By Elias Cepeda
(At UFC 147 Rich Franklin proved that he could survive even the most brutal of hair cuts and go on to win in impressive fashion)
Sometimes, while covering an event, the perfect story book ending intersects with what a writer personally wants to see happen. But most of the time, it doesn’t. At UFC 147, it nearly did, sort of.
It is time I stop hiding it because you’d undoubtedly see through me at some point, potato nation – I am a huge Wanderlei Silva fan. If he’s not my all-time emotional favorite, he’s no worse than at the 3 spot. As such, I enjoyed seeing him tear fighters apart as Pride contender and champion and, for the past six years, have watched him fight with more and more trepidation each time out, worried that the brain damage he’s sure to have accrued over two decades of professional fighting was growing with each knock out loss or even hard punch landed to his tattooed dome.
But even when a slugger’s reflexes have slowed and their chin softened, their power stays with them. So, since Wanderlei insisted on continuing to fight, and he took on Rich Franklin in the main event of last night’s UFC 147, I secretly hoped that Wand could stay safe on the feet long enough to land a bomb of his own and put Franklin out.
What a note that would be to go out on for Silva – returning to his home country to fight for the first time in twelve years, as a legend and champion, and avenging a loss in dramatic fashion in front of the largest indoor stadium crowd in Brazil. Perhaps then Wand could be convinced to retire and move on to an ambassador role for the surging sport and UFC organization in Brazil and across the globe.
I didn’t think any part of that scenario was likely, the playing it strategic and safe, the winning, the retiring, but I hoped. However, the Wanderlei Silva we saw Saturday night was much better than any we’d seen in some time and he nearly toppled Franklin before ultimately losing a unanimous decision.