Friday, June 12, 2009 | 7 p.m.
- What: UFC's first show in Germany (Main Event: Wanderle Silva vs. Rich Franklin)
- When: Saturday, June 13, Noon PT
- Where: Cologne, Germany
- TV: Pay-per-view
Wanderlei Silva is one of the most popular mixed martial artists of all time. The Brazilian’s go-for-broke style and fearless attitude has earned "The Axe Murderer" fans across the globe.
Problem is, sometimes Silva’s ultra-aggressive attitude puts him in compromising situations where he, and not his opponent, is laying face down via a brutal knockout.
Three of Silva’s last five fights have ended this way, with him on the receiving end — including a December highlight reel KO to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at the MGM Grand.
While reporters this week in Germany seem to think the 33-year-old is closer to hanging up the gloves, Silva insists he’s not ready to be a full-time trainer just yet.
"I love to fight, this is so exciting for me. This is my life," said Silva, now training out of his newly opened Las Vegas-based gym, Wand Fight Team.
"The emotion that I have going into the Octagon and from the crowd is unbelievable. It's priceless."
And can sometimes lead to those unexpected encounters with the canvas. Granted, Silva’s four losses have come at the hands of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović, Chuck Liddell, Jackson and Dan Henderson -- elites in the sport to be sure.
But Silva thinks he can control his emotions, yet still keep his aggressive striking style.
“Sometimes I put my heart in front of my technique," Silva said. "Now my coach talks to me: 'Easy, easy, easy.’"
Silva will get his latest test against another UFC vet Saturday when he takes on 34-year-old Rich Franklin in a catch weight bout at 195 pounds at UFC 99 in Cologne, Germany.
“I’m so happy to have my first main event in the UFC,” said Silva, whose lone win in the UFC since returning in 2007 came with a first-round KO of Keith Jardine at UFC 84 in Las Vegas.
“This is great for me. I respect my opponent. He’s a great fighter. I know me and him are going to give a great show for the fans.”
While both Silva and Franklin have showed the utmost respect for one another, Franklin trained for this match with Silva’s former friend and training partner, Anderson Silva. The two Silvas have had a falling out and a win by Wanderlei could set up a future grudge match.
“I tried to keep myself out of any of the, you know, personal battle that was going on between the two of them. I was just looking for a good resource to use to help me prep for this fight,” said Franklin, who suffered two brutal losses at the hands of his new trainer partner, Anderson.
“And you know I learned a few things while I was out there, and, all in all, it was a decent camp.”
Silva is looking for more than a decent showing against Franklin, but says even if his career is on the line that he’s not ready to quit.
"A few years ago I was at the end of the line (of fighters to retire)," Silva told SI.com. "Now I am at the front of the line.
"If (UFC president Dana White) comes to me and says to stop, I will respect this. But after my next fight, you'll see, he will say, 'Please don't stop.'"
Andy Samuelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-948-7837.