What unfolded in the main event at UFC On Fuel 8: Silva Vs Stann was something that will be talked about in mixed martial arts for a long time to come. Wanderlei Silva and Brian Stann touched gloves at the beginning of the first round, and came forward for nine minutes and eight seconds of glorious violence. When you add up the circumstances of having two of the classiest individuals in the sport facing each other, Silva returning to fight in Japan on the biggest stage the sport has to offer, and holding the fight on the holy MMA ground that is Saitama Sports Arena, the ingredients were all there for an epic moment in fighting history.
On his first trip to Japan UFC commentator Jon Anik got to call the fight. He was kind enough to talk to John Petit from Rebellion Media / Fighters.com about the event, and what he saw from his seat Octagon-side in one of the year’s best moments in the sport.
On Anik’s first trip to Japan, and what he learned about the fight fans and culture there:
The fight fans are very passionate. Obviously, they are a little bit different from the fans in the UK or in Brazil. They are certainly more measured and they are a respectful bunch. Not that those other fans aren’t. I would say their knowledge is right there, and they react a little bit differently, and they are measured and quiet until something major happens. Sometimes they may get more excited for the walk out than they do for the first touch of the gloves, which isn’t always the case.
Its just an interesting people and culture over there. You hear people talk about how clean it is over there, the whole society is just a tight ship. If you order room service and they say it will be there in 20 minutes, it will be at your door in 19:50. The work ethic of the people, you pick up on that right away. From the bowing to everything else, everyone is just so respectful.
Anik on calling the main event between Wanderlei Silva and Brian Stann:
We all put the Saitama Super Arena on a pedestal as MMA fans, and rightfully so, but to be in that building for a Wanderlei Silva fight and actually call the fight was for me one of the top three favorite moments of my career. I think it is going to be one that is tough to top. In one breath I would say as a fan it would be cool to just go to the show, because when you are working the show it is a different experience and you don’t necessarily get to take it all in-and you are in communication with people and everyone else, so there is a lot going on. It was a very unique experience and I had chills head to toe when Wanderlei made that walk, and that is something I will look back upon fondly, and I just hope I get to do something like that again.
Anik on contextualizing the main event between Silva Vs Stann:
Yeah man, it was nuts! I think thankfully for Wanderlei the fight was at 205 and thankfully for him he had a partner willing to trade in Brian Stann. I hope that when Brian Stann gets some separation from this that he can take something positive out of this experience. Obviously he couldn’t have been more eloquent in the post-fight interview, and talking about being part of Wanderlei’s legacy. I guess I would say that maybe we have tried to close the book on Wanderlei Silva prematurely. He is not punch drunk in most conversations I have with him, he isn’t one of these guys who can’t complete a sentence. I still think he has his wits about him, and now that he is fighting less frequently I think his performances have been better. He was very close to beating Rich Franklin and he knocked out a guy in Japan with an absolutely killer chin. Wanderlei has a very difficult style to prepare for and you can get brawlers and stuff to spar with, but you can’t go all out in sparring taking headshots in camp. I think it’s a difficult style to mimic in training, and I think maybe the moment got to Brian Stann a little bit and he got sucked in and obviously the fight materialized from there.
Anik talks about getting to know Wanderlei Silva:
There are few individuals in the world that I have as much respect for as I do for Brian Stann, and I got to ride in the van with Wanderlei to airport and we got to talk for a good hour. He is just the real article, man. That’s as genuine a guy as I have ever come across. He went out of his way to ask me about my daughter, and to compliment me on some of the broadcast stuff we have been doing, and here he is less than 24 hours away from a huge moment and he is deflecting focus and praise to me. He is a stud of a human being, and I was just happy he was able to have that moment and prolong one of the best careers this sport has ever seen.