Wanderlei Silva makes his long-awaited return to Japan to fight Brian Stann in a light heavyweight main event. Silva returns to 205 pounds following a middleweight stint while Stann moves up for this one-time appearance. Silva was last seen at UFC 147 in June, dropping a decision in a rematch with Rich Franklin, and he is 2-3 over his last five fights. Stann comes in off a loss to Michael Bisping at UFC 152 in September and is in the midst of a 3-2 stretch in his last five fights.
Fight Breakdown- These two fighters have different approaches to fighting as Silva is wickedly aggressive while Stann stays calm under pressure. Both hit very hard with Silva having much-regarded knockout power while Stann has his own power in his hands. Both have a penchant for exciting finishes and in a five-round fight, this does not seemed destined to go to the finish. Silva is a brawler who mixes punches, kicks and knees well while Stann has evolved from being a brawler to being a very technical striker. Silva is still plenty capable of blitzing an opponent, and if he gets Stann in trouble, he will look to finish. Stann has solid recovery abilities, and Silva can get worn down by trying to finish a fight as evidenced in his last fight with Franklin. He had Franklin down and almost out but wore himself out trying to score the finish, and Franklin capitalized and took the rest of the fight.
Stann’s biggest weakness in his fights have been his takedown defense. He was schooled in the takedown game by Chael Sonnen, and while he has improved a little bit in that area, Bisping was still able to take Stann down, especially late in the fight, in their bout in September. Silva is not the type of fighter who will constantly shoot for takedowns, but it is a possibility since Silva is not afraid to show some ground work, though he always prefers to keep the fight on the feet and make it about the striking exchanges. Silva’s biggest weakness is his chin as it has taken a beating in its’ day, and Stann’s heavy hands and furious knees will put that chin to the test.
Five round fights put an emphasis on conditioning, and Stann has never been five rounds in a fight. Silva has, including his last fight against Franklin. He faded late in that bout, but the weight cut could have played a factor in that fight. Neither fighter is cutting much, if any, weight for this fight, and with the brawling styles both like to employ, going the full 25 minutes will likely not happen. Stann being more technical and patient will play to his hands, though Silva still has the chance to blitz to a finish. It will be wild and may be crazy, but the makings for a knockout on either side are there.
Why It Matters- For Silva, fighting in Japan in the twilight of his career will be a special moment. He wants to continue fighting following this fight, but that likely depends on the amount of damage he takes. A knockout could force UFC President Dana White to send him into retirement ala Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes. Silva fights because he loves to do so, and the emotion he brings into a fight is captivating. Win or lose, Silva is a legend in the sport and fans will keep their eye on him whether he rides to the octagon again or rides out into the sunset.
For Stann, he is fighting his hero in Silva. It is a fight he has been wanting for years and he’s finally got it. A win would be huge for when he makes his move back down to middleweight following this fight. A win over a legend gets him back into the mix for a title shot, but a loss would hurt a lot. Silva won’t be fighting for titles any longer, but Stann can still fight for them. Stann needs a win here if he ever intends on fighting for the middleweight championship.