In early 2011, there was a bit of a meme going around the MMA world that Wanderlei Silva was afraid to fight Brian Stann. This is because, around that time, just about every up-and-comer looking to make a name for himself in the UFC’s middleweight division made it a point to call out Silva, in hopes of getting a potential win against the aging veteran. Brian Stann was such an up-and-comer, and many people were opining about how great a fight between him and Silva would be. However, Silva refused said fight and instead would take on the likes of Chris Leben and Cung Le.
Wandy wasn’t without reasons for turning down the fight. As you will see in this interview with Karyn Bryant, he had a laundry list of them. Pardon my ability to understand Portuglish (a cousin of “Spanglish”), but I believe Wandy was pointing to the fact that such a fight did not fit in with his training schedule, that he would rather fight Vitor Belfort or Chael Sonnen, and that Stann is an American hero who Silva respected too much to fight. But in that interview, Silva made painfully clear that he was not afraid of Brian Stann, and that he would fight him at some point before retiring.
Well, that point is now here. Or at least it will be on March 10, as the bout has been announced as the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 8, which will be held in Japan on that date.
I am happy to see Wandy stick to his promise and finally agree to fight Brian Stann, because the notion that Silva was afraid of anyone in MMA is absurd. Fear and Silva’s trademark aggressive style do not go hand-in-hand. Plus no offense to Brian Stann, but Silva has fought just about everyone there is to fight, and it was hard to imagine that a fight against the relatively un-proven Stann would strike fear in his heart. Besides, if Silva was afraid of taking a fight where he could end up getting knocked out, why on earth would he have instead agreed to fight Chris Leben, who ended up doing just that to him?
The Silva-Stann fight should be a very exciting one, and I cannot wait to see the reaction Silva gets fighting in Japan for the first time since a 2006 defeat in Pride to Mirko Cro Cop. It should be special, and it should ensure high Japanese-fan interest in the proceedings. Whether or not Silva can beat Stann may be a different issue because, even though the fighters are going to go at it at 205 instead of 185, Stann should have a considerable size advantage and may be able to bully Silva around the cage. Plus, as Stann has proven, he definitely has the knockout power to test what’s left in Silva’s chin should Wandy decide to abandon all defensive strategy and try to turn the bout into a slugfest.
All in all, looks like another exciting fight for the first quarter of 2013. And, no matter what happens, I am glad that Silva took the bout and officially closed the chapter on the “Wanderlei is afraid of Brian Stann” nonsense forever.