Have you ever wondered why Wanderlei Silva is still one of MMA’s most popular fighters despite the fact he’s dropped five of his last seven scraps? Former UFC light heavyweight champ Chuck Liddell is posting similar numbers as his illustrious career winds down, however everyone appears eager to shove him out the Octagon doors.
“It’s wonderful,” Silva told Sherdog.com of his most popular kid on campus status. “People have no idea how they’ve helped me get through difficult times. Any athlete knows that there are days when you’re happy to train and others when you’re sore, tired and have little desire to train. I went through some very difficult times mentally. Many people supported me, and that, to me, is priceless. That’s something goes far beyond money.
“There’s nothing better than that moment when fans resonate with you in the ring. When I don’t feel that anymore, I’ll stop fighting but not before then. I know I still have much to do. This sport is my life, and I love to fight.”
They say timing is everything, and if that were the case, “The Axe Murderer” should have missed the celebrity boat a long time ago. While he was disposing of the best 205-pound talent Japan had to offer during his PrideFC heydays, Liddell was making his turf stateside by posting one devastating knockout victory after another.
However, now that both icons are seemingly on the wrong end of every highlight reel finish, Liddell’s stock has plummeted while Wandy’s is at a premium.
“I know I’ve either directly or indirectly inspired many people around the world, and those people deserve my respect,” he said. “It’s a give-and-take relationship. That’s friendship. For me, it’s like a marriage. When one is not right, the other has to be good. One helps the other. My fans like me and I like them, that will last forever. The respect is mutual.”
Just to give you an idea of Silva’s Lindsay Lohan-like popularity, his Pride Edition Round 5 collectible action figure sells for six times its $12.99 MSRP on eBay.
“People often say that I want to fight to put on a show and only entertainers do that, but I disagree,” the charismatic Brazilian added. “When I’m in there, it’s about much more than winning or losing. My goal is to stir the emotions of viewers. People no longer just like the athlete who’s invincible.
“Everyone’s human and has their own ways. People feel the respect I have for them and I know how important this is for the fans.”