Today, July 3, is the 35th birthday of one of the greatest legends of MMA. Wanderlei César da Silva, aka Wand, set into his turning of age the way he likes to: with an ice pack resting on his aching body.
But the joy ends there: in the video, it was time to rewatch the disheartening knockout he suffered at UFC 132 to the heavy-handed Chris Leben, the opponent the Brazilian was hoping to put away before heading into a violent encounter with the big-mouthed Chael Sonnen, before taking on former rival Vitor Belfort.
While he repondered his plans and licked his wounds, Wand asked forgiveness of his followers on Twitter. A plain-put and emotional, “Sorry, my gang”, made his disappointment clear. The fans rushed to salute the myth, among them a number of Jiu-Jitsu and MMA world champions.
“You don’t need to apologize to anybody.” “Keep your head up.” You’re our hero,” were some of the messages sent by Rômulo Barral, André Galvão, Gesias Cavalcante, Antonio Pezão, Rolles Gracie and a number of other big names from the world of Jiu-Jitsu and MMA as well as lesser-known fans, among the 100,000 followers who keep up with Silva on the social networking site.
In the crowd at UFC 132, Chael Sonnen commented to MMAFighting.com about the 27-second knockout – and was respectful of the moment the former Pride FC champion was going through.
“I was rooting for Chris, but I sincerely hope Wand is ok; I don’t want anything bad to happen to him. But he really doesn’t have what it takes to do this anymore,” said the fighter, one of the forces in the middleweight ranks of the UFC, confessing that he was surprised at how quickly the fight ended.
“Really, the only guy capable of putting him away quicker was me. But now it doesn’t make sense to fight him, and I don’t want to be the next one to send him to the doctor; he’ll have to find another fight. I don’t want to fight Chris [Leben] either; I’d rather face that karate guy, Machida, before fighting for the middleweight title again. We’ll see,” he said.
“The interesting thing about this fight with Wanderlei was that Chris was certainly inspired by him – and today he beat him. That’s big praise for the Brazilian, and I hope he sees that as consolation right now,” said Sonnen signing off elegantly.