Wanderlei Silva: Who’s Next?

Wanderlei Silva came through yet again with an exciting knockout victory over former WEC light-heavyweight champion Brian Stann at Saturday night’s UFC on FUEL TV 8, from Saitama, Japan, earning Fight of the Night honors. Round One between these two heavy hitters could be easily be considered the round of the year. Not only did they hit each other, both fighters even hit the ground at different times, yet somehow managed to get their legs back to a certain degree before the round ended. Then it happened, in classic “Ax Murderer” style. Silva stepped in to throw a short right hook that landed flush on Stann’s face, followed by a left hook that sent Stann tumbling backwards. After such a joyful victory in the country that made him a star, the Brazilian jumped onto the cage to greet his loyal fans.

Stann was a heavy favorite to win this bout, and after hurting Silva several times in that first round, it was clear why. He was the fresher of the two fighters in terms of miles on the odometer, and he always has immense power in his hands. Silva did not let that factor into the bout in the least bit and he made sure to let fans at home watching and the respectful Japanese crowd in the arena know that he will not go quietly into the night.

So after an unexpected victory, the next logical question is what’s next for Silva? Silva made it clear that he is planning to stay at light-heavyweight after this bout, thus it will expected that he will continue to campaign at that division. Pitting Silva against a non-top ten light-heavy is a good start, perhaps someone who likes to keep the fight standing, like Fabio Maldonado. The division has always been one of the most stacked, therefore, picking an opponent who isn’t a top notch fighter isn’t as easy or simple as one would expect.

Another potential opponent could be someone like Krzysztof Sosznynski. One thing the UFC should keep in mind when matching Silva up is to select a fighter who won’t mop the floor with him, but at the same time not choose an opponent who will be overmatched. Maldonado or Sosznynski just might be that happy medium.

Whomever Silva fights next, fans across the world will definitely be watching. If all goes well, Silva may go down in the history books as one of the few mixed martial artists who will retire on their own terms. And make no mistake about it, that’s rarified air in this sport. An unexpected, yet extremely exciting, knockout win over the always classy Stann is most certainly the right start to a successful retirement of what is already one of the most legendary careers or our generation.