After nine minutes and eight seconds of unmitigated violence Saturday, Wanderlei Silva was, once again, on top of the mixed martial arts worlds.
Silva isn't about titles or decision wins or game plans. He's as fierce a fighter who has ever stepped foot into a cage, a guy who cares more about bringing the fans from their seats than having his arm raised.
He managed to do both on Saturday, sending the crowd at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo into delirium with a brutal knockout of Brian Stann at 4:08 of the second round in one of the great slugfests in UFC history.
Returning to the arena where he made his reputation as one of the sport's most exciting fighters while starring in the PRIDE Fighting Championship, Silva survived a back-and-forth shootout with the ex-Marine hero by landing an overhand right and a left hook with about a minute left in the second.
Stann went down and Silva landed four punches from the top before referee Marc Godard stepped in to halt it.
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If Silva had lost, it likely would have been his final fight. He hasn't won two in a two since 2005-2006 and he's taken a brutal amount of punishment en route to becoming one of the sport's most beloved warriors.
Instead of going out on a loss, though, perhaps it's time for the 36-year-old to walk away on his own terms. He'd be leaving after one of his most memorable wins, won while standing and trading toe-to-toe with one of the sport's most heavy-handed punchers.
Silva loves to fight – and entertain – so much that he'll probably never go willingly. Retiring is likely the last thing on his mind.
It would be, however, a wonderful way to go out, winning in Japan in a typically brutal Silva style.
"I'm so happy," said an emotional Silva, who wrapped himself in the Brazilian flag and jumped into the stands to embrace several fans before heading back to the locker room. "Thanks to [UFC president] Dana White; thanks to the UFC for the wonderful opportunity to fight here."
It was a show from the minute the bell rang until the second that Godard jumped in to stop it. For the most part, it wasn't technique or strategy. It was guts, heart, power and courage, as they stood in front of each other and fired haymakers.
Stann seemed to badly hurt Silva twice in the first round, but Silva got in plenty of his shots and appeared to break Stann's nose. Blood was gushing from Stann's nose from the early moments of the fight.
The end came when, with both men standing square to the other, their feet wide apart, Silva fired a looping right that caught Stann on the cheek. He quickly followed with a left hook and Stann fell to the canvas.
Silva landed four shots on the ground to prompt the end.
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The loss continued a disappointing trend for Stann, who has lost the majority of his most significant matches in the UFC. Stann has now lost three of his last four fights, with a knockout of Alessio Sakara his only win compared to losses to Chael Sonnen, Michael Bisping and Silva.
Stann, though, played a big role in the entertaining match and was classy as usual afterward.
"I knew what I had at risk when I signed on the dotted line to face Wanderlei, fighting here in Japan," Stann said. "Wanderlei is one of my favorite fighters ever. He inspired me to start in this sport. I'm proud to be a part of his career, as much as this hurts. My heart is broken, but I'm proud I fought him."
Stann landed hard, and hurt Silva several times. Silva has been hurt far too often in his career, knocked cold on many occasions. He's one of the classiest guys away from the cage and one of its grittiest competitors inside of it.
It would be great to see him walk away, his health intact, and go out on top.
Much like one-time rival Chuck Liddell, though, it's that love of the fight and the gunslinger's mentality that will bring him back.
It may not end pretty for Wanderlei Silva, but it was a wonderfully violent nine minutes on Saturday.
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