Wanderlei Silva: UFC Star Ends Retirement To Compete In Bellator MMA — Will ‘The Axe Murderer’ Fight Against Other MMA Legends?

In 2015, many MMA fans got to see many veteran MMA fighters, those who are considered past their prime, end their retirements and return to action. Probably the biggest name to make his return to MMA is Ken Shamrock. At Bellator 138: Unfinished Business, “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” went one-on-one against Kimbo Slice. The hype surrounding their fight goes back to October 4, 2008, when they were supposed to fight one another in EliteXC: Heat, but could not due to Shamrock receiving a cut above his left eye.

The fight of Ken Shamrock and Kimbo Slice was nowhere near impressive, but it did draw in a 2.1 million viewership rating which is four to five times more than the average for Bellator MMA. This may be the reason why Scott Coker was a-okay with Bellator 149: Shamrock vs. Gracie, an event that featured two main event fights with older guys.

Despite what the MMA community might say, Ken Shamrock was right when he said people want to invest in “Legend versus Legend” fights. And many MMA legends are coming out of retirement for it. Now, there is news that former UFC fighter Wanderlei Silva has ended retirement, signing on to Bellator MMA. Will “The Axe Murderer” also be fighting other MMA legends?

For those who do not remember Wanderlei Silva for any reason, he is well known in MMA especially after the turn of the century. He defeated some of the biggest names in MMA including Dan Henderson, Quinton Jackson, and Michael Bisping. Silva’s last fight was against Brian Stann at UFC on Fuel TV 8 (video of full fight attached above). After a back-and-forth fight, Silva won via knock-out, 4:08 into the second round. His performance along with Stann gave them “Fight of the Night” honors.

Wanderlei Silva was supposed to fight Chael Sonnen but because Silva ran from a random drug test, he was given a lifetime ban and $70,000 fine by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on September 23, 2014. That was the beginning of Silva’s so-called retirement, even though his lifetime ban was overturned, granting him the eligibility to reapply for a licence in May of 2017.

Since then, Wanderlei Silva remained silent within MMA until he signed a multi-fight deal with Bellator MMA, as reported by ESPN. Scott Coker or Bellator MMA officials have not disclosed the specifics of Silva’s debut. We do know that he was able to sign such a contract after UFC released his contract in January of 2016. This was after Silva apologized to UFC for his “fixed fight” statement.

RIZIN Fighting Federation
Bellator MMA may use their connections with RIZIN Fighting Federation to have Wanderlei Silva fight overseas. [Image via RIZIN Fighting Federation Promotions]

As for competing, it is apparent Wanderlei Silva cannot compete in the state of Nevada until he reapplies for his license next year. The work-around would be for Bellator MMA to only schedule Silva in fights that do not take place in Nevada. MMA Fighting, however, brought up an interesting fact that may lead to where Silva will be competing. Using their connections with RIZIN Fighting Federation, Bellator MMA may have Silva compete overseas. Nobuyuki Sakakibara, the owner of RIZIN Fighting Federation and former boss of Pride FC, has expressed interest in Silva over recent months, along with several legendary fighters like Vitor Belfort and Alexander Shlemenko. They already have Fedor Emelianenko.

Wanderlei Silva competing overseas also answers the question of whether he will be facing MMA legends. Technically, he will but it seems he won’t be limited to it. Silva may become a main roster fighter for the middleweight or light heavyweight divisions, two of the divisions he fought in over the course of his career.

[Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images]