Of all the men and women who call fighting their profession, few are as passionate, emotional or as damn intense about is as Wanderlei ‘The Axe Murderer’ Silva. It’s what makes him so exciting, dangerous and vulnerable every time he sets foot inside the ring or cage. It’s also what makes him so susceptible to being riled away from the fighting arena, something Chael Sonnen, his opponent on June 24, has exploited to the nth degree in the last four years.
It started four years ago when both appeared as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Sonnen goading, Silva rising to it. Only, in this instance, there was no fight to end the feud. Silva got himself injured and Sonnen then failed a drug test. So on it went, this rivalry, this bad blood, until Bellator MMA announced a recycled Sonnen vs. Silva grudge match for their inaugural show at Madison Square Garde, New York on June 24.
Now, following years of back-and-forth, two 40 year olds can finally look forward to trading strikes rather than barbs.
“After what this guy has been doing, I want to beat him so bad,” said Silva, 35-12-1 (1 NC), on Tuesday. “I don’t know why. He did a lot of bad things over here in Brazil in the programme. I will give him what he deserves in ten days. I’m going to catch you, motherfucker.
“When I see Chael, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m a professional, but this guy has crossed the line with me. He’s playing with the wrong guy.”
Sonnen and Silva have so far avoided crossing paths in the weeks and months preceding their headline slot at MSG. Sonnen has showed to press engagements; Silva has not. But the reason for this, Silva says, is simply that he can’t trust himself to be in the same room as a man he wants to punch square on the jaw, a man he knows brings out the very worst in him.
“When I see Chael in the same room, it’s better if we have security,” he said. “Something is going to happen.
“I’m a professional. I hope I see him just inside the cage.
“He did a lot of bad things to me here. He knows I am right and he’s wrong. Now it’s time for payback.”