(Anyone who isn’t a fan of Wand, isn’t a fan of MMA.)
Fighters Only spoke to Wanderlei Silva last night about his painful decision to pull out of his UFC 116 bout with Yoshihiro Akiyama. "The Axe Murderer" revealed that he had torn ligaments in his knee a few weeks ago, but said he was planning to fight with the injured joint anyway. He says that the combination of his knee injury and a trio of broken ribs he sustained while training on Friday made it impossible to continue his camp, let alone fight in a week and a half.
“I tried training more upper body and boxing; I kept losing weight and I was gonna fight no matter what. Last Friday, during sparring, I injured my rib. It was very painful and the next day I had an x-ray and an MRI. I discovered I had three broken ribs.
“After years of fighting, my body made me stop this time. I am here to tell you that I cannot fight on this card. I am very sad because I trained for four months. This is a very difficult time for me. Now, I know that I need to have surgery on my knee. I have no option."
Explaining the series of unfortunate events that led to him bowing out of the heavily-anticipated bout, Wanderlei further demonstrated the never give up warrior spirit that has endeared him to so many fans from back in his days as a dominant PRIDE champion through to his three years in the UFC Octagon.
"I am here to talk about my last few days. I went through a very tense and difficult weekend and had a very hard decision. Two weeks ago I felt pain in my knee while I was training wrestling. I had an MRI of my knee and three doctors told me my knee was torn. I took medicine to help with the pain, and although my knee felt loose, I said "no," this date is very important to me and I continued training. I tried training more upper body and boxing; I kept losing weight and I was gonna fight no matter what. Last Friday, during sparring, I injured my rib. It was very painful and the next day I had an x-ray and an MRI. I discovered I had three broken ribs."
“You cannot imagine how much I wanted to fight on this card. It was my birthday, I had friends and family from Brazil and around the world coming to see me and now I cannot fight. I am not the kind of fighter who fights just for the money and I will prove to you now – I could have entered the Octagon, received one punch, and said, ‘That’s it, I have broken ribs.’ But I fight to give you a big show. When I fight I always give one hundred percent and I fight to show everybody real MMA and to help the sport grow and to excite my fans."
Although obviously disappointed, Silva remains optimistic that he will be able to quickly bounce back from the setback.
“I am going to work hard to return. I know my God is with me and He is going to bless me one more time. I am praying a lot and I know that God is going to bless the surgeon. I am going to be one hundred percent and will fight many more years.”
Apologizing for letting down his fans, although his injury was outside of his control, he asked that his supporters keep him in their thoughts and prayers and that they remember all of the stumbling blocks he has overcome in his life and storied MMA career.
“I apologize to all my fans. I ask for your prayers for a successful surgery and healthy body. I will be back in shape to fight again and to give you more excitement. A big hug for all of you and be with God. My fans know that my life was tough since the beginning. I want to ask for your strength and support one more time. This is a very, very, very hard moment for me. This is my livelihood, my job and I already put in a lot of time and effort into this fight. This was a fight I really, really desired."
Lastly, Wand gave kudos to Akiyama, who will now face Chris Leben in his stead, expressing his desire to reschedule their meeting for after his injuries have healed.
“This is the reason I cannot compete on this card. I apologize to my opponent. I have had opponents cancel fights. I hope they find you another opponent. I hope that I can fight with you in the future. You are an amazing fighter."
Fighters Only has set up an email account for fans to send well-wishes and personal messages to Silva. If you would like to send one of your own, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.