In late September, Sherdog.comís Marcelo Alonso sat down with Wanderlei Silva to review ďThe Axe MurdererísĒ MMA career.
Topics included the bare-knuckle days of the IVC, training at Chute Boxe, the baddest man heís ever known, whether Lyoto Machida is unbeatable and who he thinks will knock off Brock Lesnar.
At the time of the interview, Silva was training but not allowed to get hit due to a recent surgery on his nose. By now he is preparing for his next bout, which is expected to come against Yoshihiro Akiyama early next year.
Sherdog: How was your adaptation to Vegas?
Silva: Itís been two years that Iíve lived here. In the beginning it was really hard, but now Iím fine. Unlike most parts of the USA, we donít have too many Brazilians here, like in Boston or Florida, so I had to develop my English and try to build a new life for myself. When I arrived here, I first tried to live in West Palm Beach (Florida), but it was a new academy and I didnít have training there and I had my fight against Liddell already scheduled, then I decided to come to Vegas, where Couture welcomed me and helped me a lot in the beginning. Later I decided to open my own gym and I had a really hard time doing so because here you need to get permission for everything and I didnít speak English at that time. It was really hard. But building that academy was like making my dream come true, so I did everything I could to reach this goal. Thank God I was able to do what I want in the way I want. The American market is really fabulous, and Iím really happy with the result.
Sherdog: Who are your coaches here?
Silva: Rafael Alejarra, one of the best coaches in the world, helped me a lot in my last fight. Iíve been with him for a long time and heís my friend, but heís a great professional and showed me a lot of heart. Rafael Cordeiro and I have started a partnership with his new gym, Kings Muay Thai. Heís a very respectful guy and is becoming even more like a master, not only inside the ring but outside too. He always taught many lessons to me. He was by my side for the most important moments in my life, some hard times, when I was kicked out of the gym and had to look for another team, but he managed my return to the team too. It happened many years ago. I left the team and they helped me, asked to let me go back to the team, so I decided to go back and train there.
Sherdog: What do you have to say about your last loss to Rich Franklin?
Silva: I think I won this fight against Franklin. I did my best, and even the American fans told me I won. I got a little bit upset about that because I did a very nice show and I thought I won.
Sherdog: So when will you return to the ring?
Silva: When God wants. For the first time in 13 years, I stopped a little bit. Ö Iíll stop a little bit and get focused on my academy, on helping my guys. Develop myself as a manager and trainer. I opened two new classes where Iím teaching. Because anyone who wants to work in martial arts has to learn about all areas, and teaching is one of those. Thank God Iím seeing that outside of the ring can be as profitable as the inside of the ring. Actually, in my case, it doesnít even come close, but letís say I can make good money to pay the bills.
Sherdog: People in Brazil were really impressed after you invited Paulo Filho and Arona to train.
Silva: For sure. The times of rivalries are over, and when you come to live outside (Brazil), your patriotism grows. Which leaders wouldnít like to have Arona and Filho representing his team? My academy is open to anyone who wants to train. Iíve already received here names like Forrest Griffin, ďMinotauro,Ē Gilbert Yvel, Heath Herring, Werdum, Demian. So everybody is welcome here. Every Tuesday and Thursday I have an open sparring training where guys can come from (their academies) with their coaches from other academies. If I open space to people that I donít really know, for sure the doors of my academy are open to the new talents from Brazil or Japan. Actually Iím using all the promotion around my name here in the USA to promote the new talents who are coming from Brazil or Japan.
Sherdog: On Aug. 22 we had the opportunity to see you for the first time as a coach when your fighter Jorge Lopez defeated a student of Josh Barnett by unanimous decision. After such a successful career as an athlete, how do you feel about winning as a trainer?
Silva: Iím very happy Jorge is our revelation. This is his seventh fight. I told him, ĎWhen you have 15, Iíll put you in the UFC.í Today, besides him, we have a lot of new talents on Wand Fight Team, like Mike Whitehead, Vitor Vianna and other newcomers. Iím very happy that Iím able to pass to my students the winning philosophy that I received from my master, Rudimar, during my whole life.
Sherdog: After you left Chute Boxe, did Rudimar ever visit you?
Silva: No. Actually I would like to thank master Rudimar for everything I am. Iíve already told him that Iím waiting for his visit. I always teach my students to respect the master and I really respect my master.
Sherdog: How do you reflect on your IVC fights?
Silva: That event was unbelievable, one of the biggest in the world at that time. At that time, we didnít have Pride, and UFC wasnít as big as it is today. That was crazy, one 30-minute round. Ö I didnít kick my opponentís balls because I didnít want to, but they allowed that. (Sergio) Batarelli was a great manager and did some great fights, like Fabio Gurgel against Mark Kerr. A fantastic fight. Gurgel showed a lot of heart. ďPelťĒ fought against Chuck Liddell. That fight was awesome. Pelť almost knocked Liddell out. (Peleís) fights against ďMacaco.Ē IVC was historical.
Sherdog: Do you think it was an important stage to get the sport where it is today, or do you think, ďHow did I do this?Ē
Silva: I donít really care about being injured and all that stuff. I didnít have any fear or self-protection instinct, and thatís why I think my career is like this. I actually started my career when I was 13, and I became professional at 15. From 15 to 33, where I am today, I never stopped. I was always fighting four, five times a year, and now two or three. I never had free time, so now I gave myself that free time for the first time to take care of myself and return with everything next year. To tell you the truth, I stopped now because I have to, because Iíd to like to be back to training. Something I always say is that I love to train, and you have to be inspired to do it. Itís like making love: The man canít fake it. Sometimes itís good and sometimes itís not, and we canít fake it. And Iím like this: If I do something, I do it for real.