Wanderlei Silva announced on Wednesday that he’s going to face his longtime rival Quinton Jackson for a fourth time in the Bellator cage on Sept. 29, and his coach is confident that “The Axe Murderer” will be successful once again.
Andre Dida has worked as Silva’s head coach for his last four fights, including knockout wins over Cung Le and Brian Stann and decision losses to Rich Franklin and Chael Sonnen. He sees the 50-fight veteran as being as motivated as ever.
“Keeping that flame on until the fight, he will surprise ‘Rampage’ and everyone else,” Dida told MMA Fighting. “He’s working hard, dedicating for this fight. Wanderlei is really hungry.”
Silva and “Rampage” fought three times in the past, and the current score is 2-1 in favor of the Brazilian. Two of the biggest stars in the now-defunct PRIDE promotion, Silva stopped Jackson a couple of times in Japan, but “Rampage” got his revenge with a first-round KO in the UFC in 2008.
An emotional fighter, Silva will attempt to return to the winning column after a disappointing decision defeat to Sonnen, another longtime rival, in his Bellator debut in 2017, and his team thinks Jackson’s fighting style is perfect for the Brazilian striker.
“We know he likes to brawl, and that’s great for the fans, who will watch a great fight, and for Wanderlei, because the style matches up well for him,” Dida said. “Wanderlei has many weapons to beat Quinton Jackson. Every time Quinton Jackson tried to break Wanderlei standing, Wanderlei went there and broke him. He always tries to go toe-to-toe and ends up dying. We know what to do. Wanderlei is aggressive, everybody knows that, and we’ll keep him at his best for the fight.”
“We know what went wrong,” Dida said of the 2008 loss to “Rampage”. “Wanderlei fought in a way and Quinton Jackson fired back. If Quinton Jackson does that again, we’ll catch him. Wanderlei Silva is hungry. It’s a new fight. Wanderlei is happy, living and training in Brazil again, and we’ll make sure he has his hands raised in the end.”
The fourth clash between Silva and Jackson will be at heavyweight, Silva said, and Dida believes it helps both fighters “a lot.”
“Cutting weight is not good for Wanderlei Silva anymore,” Dida said. “Wanderlei Silva is stronger and heavier today, and he would need more time to cut weight. It’s good for Quinton Jackson, too. They both will be fit to do their best in there without draining their bodies.”
Silva and “Rampage” finished the vast majority of their opponents with knockouts, and have collected some violent ones throughout their legendary careers, so it’s no surprise that Dida expects a knockout to end the four-fight rivalry between two veterans.
“I think it’s a one-round fight,” Dida said. “Wanderlei Silva’s hands are quick. We couldn’t show much against Sonnen, but when he did he knocked him down. Wanderlei’s timing is great, and I can get his best in the gym. Speed, knees, aggressiveness. ‘Rampage’s’ style favors us.”
“We’re doing everything to have him sharp for the fight,” he added. “We also know ‘Rampage’ can try to wrestle him during the fight, but we have plenty of time to get him ready for all areas. Wanderlei Silva has heavy hands. He touches and the guy goes down.”
The Brazilian striker will turn 42 in July, but Dida doesn’t think it’s the last fight for “The Axe Murderer”. Silva is also expected to run for a seat at the Brazilian congress at the 2018 elections in October — he mentioned the possibility in 2014, but didn’t officially launch his candidacy that year.
“Wanderlei Silva could have stopped a while ago if he wanted, but he keeps fighting,” Dida said. “I think that as long as there are legends fighting legends, we can do it. Wanderlei and Dan Henderson, Wanderlei and Fedor (Emelianenko). There are several guys to fight.”