LAS VEGAS – UFC president Dana White won't discuss Wanderlei Silva's future without prefacing his comments with a glowing compliment.
A PRIDE legend who once was White's arch nemesis has become one of the UFC's best ambassadors since joining the once-rival promotion.
But following Silva's UFC 147 loss to
Rich Franklin, White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) "The Axe Murderer's" fighting career is just about over.
Silva, a 36-year-old who began his fighting career way back in 1996, has lost four of his past six fights, and he's just 3-7 since 2006 (with four knockout losses). Most recently, he headlined UFC 147 in his home country of Brazil and suffered a decision loss to Franklin in the June 23 headliner.
"Wanderlei is a guy, yeah, I want to talk to," White told MMAjunkie.com. "He looked good in that fight. He almost won, and it's not like he got knocked out. And
Rich Franklincan crack (guys). He just knocked Chuck (Liddell) out."
Silva, who now runs a fight team out of Las Vegas, has been a fixture with the UFC since rejoining the promotion in late 2007 (he had a handful of UFC fights more than a decade ago before he joined PRIDE). In addition to fighting duties, including seven headlining or co-headlining spots in his eight recent UFC fights, Silva has been a go-to guy for media, fan and promotional events.
But will he still be involved in the UFC when it comes to fighting?
"I don't think fighting wise," White said. "I think Wanderlei is coming to the end. I think he knows that too. There's nothing wrong with that. We all get old, and this is a young man's game. We'll see what happens.
"I'm not saying he needs to retire, but he's getting close."
Silva (34-12-1 MMA, 4-7 UFC) initially was slated to fight
Vitor Belfort(21-9 MMA, 10-5 UFC), his rival coach on the recently concluded "The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil," at UFC 147 before a hand injury scrapped the matchup. After UFC 147, officials mentioned the two coaches possibly fighting at UFC 153 in Brazil later this year, though UFC president Dana White subsequently said it's unlikely.
Regardless, before he rejoined the UFC following the collapse of PRIDE, Silva and Liddell were the world's preeminent light heavyweights. But multiple attempts to book the cross-promotion fight failed (even after the UFC sent Liddell to PRIDE for a pair of fights in 2003). The fight eventually took place at UFC 79, but it lost a lot of its luster. Still, White said it set the stage for Silva's current run in the promotion.
"Wanderlei Silva for so many years was my arch enemy over at PRIDE," White said. "I so wanted to do that fight with Chuck.
"But since he's set his foot in the UFC, he's been like he's always in the UFC. He's been a great guy. We love him, and he's a local here in Las Vegas, so he'll be around for a while one way or another."