“All I guarantee is violence.” —Wanderlei Silva
Wanderlei Silva is/was one of the most beloved fighters in MMA with one of the most dedicated fan bases. And then he fell victim to the bad guy. After years of waiting for a showdown with Chael Sonnen (and vice versa), Silva decided he couldn’t wait any longer and jumped the gun… and Chael Sonnen.
It’s not too shocking to imagine that this would happen given Silva’s roots in luta livre and bare-knuckled fighting in Brazil. The guy is a vet who has been fighting before there were rules. So, when a fighter with the nickname the Axe Murderer says the only thing fans and opponents can count on is violence, it comes off like Jules Winfield quoting the gospel. It should be no shock then that Wanderlei Silva threw down in an on-set brawl with Chael Sonnen during the taping of Ultimate fighter: Brazil. What ended up surprising everyone was the reaction to the brawl. Fans, Brazilian fans in particular, began to disavow Wanderlei.
Silva blames the reaction on the editing of the TV show for the public’s negative perception of him; however, Silva’s actions, much like his words, speak for themselves. Despite the events of the last few months and the goings-on in the Ultimate Fighter set, Wandy is still a fan favorite among die-hard MMA fans.
What the impromptu fight showed fans more than anything is that the dichotomy between Silva and Sonnen is so tiny, if you squint hard enough, something comes into clear focus: Silva and Sonnen may as well be brothers from another mother. For Silva, there may be honor in defending his country’s reputation against the “mean words” used by Sonnen, but his valor is doing double duty and helping to sell their fight. As for Sonnen, he’s never been shy about the fact that what he does is take advantage of opportunities, and in the case of the on-set tussle, he gets the chance to re-brand himself as the fan-favorite and sell the fight and himself. It’s no different a tactic than when Wanderlei says things like “All I guarantee is violence.” It sounds “like some coldblooded sh*t to say” to an opponent that sells one’s self and the fight.
Wanderlei may be offended to hear it, and Sonnen will never admit it, but Wanderlei Silva is the original Chael Sonnen.