Dana White is the first to admit Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva was a stitch away from forced retirement.
“Just to clarify, Wanderlei Silva is a guy who we in this company respect and care about very much,” said White after Silva’s UFC 139 stoppage victory over Cung Le.
“He’s a very good person. He’s been a great asset to us.
“But I said it about Chuck Liddell and I’ll say it about Wanderlei Silva: When guys start getting consecutive knockout (losses), we can’t keep them in there fighting.”
The straight-shooting UFC boss said exploiting the former Pride legend would be disgraceful.
“Can we keep Wanderlei Silva rolling and keep him in there fighting? Of course we can. But I don’t want to make one dollar of that kind of money,” said White.
Silva was coming off a devastating first-round knockout loss against Chris Leben and White — as well as many MMA pundits — openly mused about his impending withdrawal from the cage.
“We’ve seen it in boxing and I don’t care what anybody says or what anybody thinks, we’re not going to see it here in the UFC,” said White about the idea of keeping Silva in the cage despite the damage he’s incurring.
“I want to make sure Wanderlei Silva is healthy. He has a great business in Las Vegas. He’s got a gym and a school. When it’s time, I will sit down and talk with these guys and talk about options and we’ll go from there.”
White said that like former light-heavyweight champ Liddell, Silva will always have a place with the UFC.
“We’re not the type of promoters to say ‘Okay Wanderlei, it’s over. Time to get out of here and good luck to you,’” said White.
“Wanderlei Silva has been a very good guy to all of us in this company. We respect him. We care about him and we don’t want to see him stick around inside the Octagon too long. And that’s why I talk about guys hanging it up when I think it’s time.”
Silva saved his job in convincing fashion, finishing one of the most unorthodox strikers in MMA and earning fight-of-the-night honours.
“I couldn’t talk about the last fight before this,” Silva said of the 27-second loss to Leben.
“It was an embarrassing loss for me.”
But the 34-11-1 Brazilian knows there’s little room for error in his next fight.
“These are the best fighters in the world and there is no space for faults,” he said.
“I know what I have to do and there is no space for faults.”