Wanderlei Silva is a legend in MMA. The personification of violence in a cage (or ring), “The Axe Murderer” is remembered for his impressive winning streak in Pride and for being a part of some of the greatest rivalries of all time. It’s too bad that the final chapter seems to be overshadowing the first half of the narrative.

The whirlwind that has come to describe the Chael Sonnen-Silva match-up reached a conclusion not in the cage, but on a piece of paper. Silva no-showed his medical tests and, according to Sonnen, literally ran out the door as the Nevada State Athletic Commission came to give a random drug test. While Sonnen’s anecdote is entertaining, it’s likely not the true story. However, what is true is that Silva’s image has taken such a massive hit in the past year that some are going to unfortunately forget the performances the legendary fighter put on during his career.

Silva and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson had some of the most violent clashes in MMA history, with both men leaving lasting images at the other’s expense during their rivalry. “The Axe Murderer” also became the poster boy for Pride in its war of words with UFC President Dana White and star Chuck Liddell.

However, that was then. This is now. And now is Silva looking increasingly bad by the day in his rivalry with Sonnen. It started off with the usual WWE-style hype that Sonnen has mastered. Silva’s “hype videos” where he discussed the unspeakable acts he planned to commit against Sonnen in a cage gave the rivalry some much-needed intensity. His pseudo-ambush of Sonnen at the Arnold Palmer event raised a few eyebrows despite the heavily scripted nature of the incident.

And then The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 happened.

Going into the series, most MMA fans were legitimately concerned about Sonnen’s well-being while filming. He’s not exactly the most popular guy in Brazil and has directed his fair share of insults towards the people of Brazil. But most fans (and fighters) have realized it’s all part of the “Chael P. Sonnen” persona. Anyone who’s seen Sonnen in his analyst role during UFC on Fox broadcasts knows he’ll give props to any fighter, regardless of where they call home. One guy who apparently wasn’t able to see that, however, is “The Axe Murderer.” Silva got things going off on the wrong foot by threatening to quit the show if Sonnen didn’t apologize for his remarks about the country of Brazil. Of course, Sonnen didn’t, but Silva ended up staying after walking out on the show.

Round one was all Sonnen.

Then came the infamous brawl between Sonnen and Silva. This “brawl” was nothing more than Sonnen getting a takedown as Silva swung at his head. The only thing that even made it worthy of being called a brawl was one of Silva’s assistant coaches hitting Sonnen on the back of the head in cheap-shot fashion. Then came the unthinkable: Sonnen was somehow becoming more popular than Silva in Silva’s home country of Brazil.

Round two was, again, all Sonnen.

Now, with Silva’s withdrawal from the fight, Sonnen has taken the final frame as well. First, it was that Silva had hurt himself in the brawl on TUF Brazil 3 which caused the fight to be bumped back. And now that Silva has been removed entirely, Sonnen finds himself in a much better situation. Despite the fact that he’s facing Vitor Belfort, one of the most dangerous fighters in all of MMA right now, the fight could have major title implications. At least that’s what Sonnen claims. Title shots are handed out like candy on Halloween nowadays, so it’s anyone’s guess as to whether that’s a valid statement from Sonnen. What is a valid claim, however, is the fact that instead of fighting a guy who’s on the tail end of his MMA career, Sonnen gets the chance to shock the entire MMA world. Belfort will likely be a huge favorite coming into UFC 175, which puts Sonnen in the underdog role, a position he’s with which he’s become very familiar.

Remember when fans refused to give him a chance against the almighty Anderson “The Spider” Silva? Sonnen talked the talk and walked the walk that night. Or when he faced Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and was the punch line for a number of “Sonnen is going to get KTFO” jokes? Instead, Sonnen not only avoided Rua’s dangerous knockout power, he actually tapped out the Brazilian. The underdog role is one that suits Sonnen to a T, and he’ll embrace that role against Belfort.

Sonnen is entering UFC 175 with nothing to lose and everything to gain against Belfort. There will be likely be very few fans who pick Sonnen over the Brazilian, and rightfully so. But if Sonnen loses, hey, that’s what he was supposed to do, right? But if Sonnen wins? Well, the MMA universe may implode as he embarks on another title bid—his third, as a matter of fact—despite a meager 3-3 record in his past six fights.

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.