Many fans and critics thought it to be a foregone conclusion that Rich "Ace" Franklin would knock Wanderlei "The Axe-Murderer" Silva into retirement, the same way he handed Chuck Liddell a career-ending defeat two years back.
In the end, Franklin may have earned a unanimous decision victory, but Silva did more than enough to quiet the critics by proving he has plenty of gas left in the tank.
Silva, a 35-year-old Brazilian who has been knocked out four times since 2006, was seconds away from a ref stoppage when he floored his opponent with a right hook in the final minute of the second round.
Referee Mario Yamasaki looked like he was about to jump in to stop the fight with 39 remaining in the frame, as Silva worked some serious ground-and-pound to the delight of the thousands of Brazilian fans on hand at Estádio Jornalista Felipe Drumond in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
In fact, I would argue that Franklin was saved by the bell. If there was another 30 seconds left in the second round, Silva would have definitely finished the fight to earn the victory and then there would be no argument about his impending retirement.
Even with Silva's solid performance in the second round, some would say that he has been in so many standup slugfests since 1996 that he should hang up the gloves before his long-term health is affected.
Others would say that he has nothing left to prove in the sport.
In my view, he did enough in the tilt with Franklin at UFC 147 to prove that he has plenty of fight left.
Unlike some fighters who stayed in the game too long - the Ken Shamrocks and Chuck Liddells of the world - Silva had a little spring in his step and didn't look washed up at all.
The "Axe-Murderer" showed that he can still take a punch, and Father Time hasn't quite caught up with him just yet. He may not be a title contender anymore, but the UFC should let him leave the sport on his own terms.
Wrapping up his career against Vitor Belfort makes plenty of sense, as there is a legitimate score to settle. It may not be a fight with title implications, but a brawl to settle a long-standing personal "beef" is just as exciting.
As for Silva's health, I don't think one more fight will cause any more permanent damage than what has already been done.
Give him and the fans one last hurrah, and grant Silva a shot against Belfort. "I have a lot of pressure in all the fights," Silva said in an interview with MMA Weekly Radio. "Right now, all the fights I need to prove I can still fight. All the time I need to prove, and I'm going to prove it again that I'm still a really good fighter and can put on a really good show."
Silva wants the fight with Belfort very badly, and it's a tilt that the fans would love to see. "He can run, but he can't hide," Silva said of Belfort ducking their scheduled tilt at UFC 147 due to injury. "Sooner or later, we're going to fight."
Should Wanderlei Silva retire? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong UFC fan and supporter of the sport of MMA. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
- Sports & Recreation
- Martial Arts
- Wanderlei Silva