Wanderlei Silva: Too Old To Change?

Hey guys,

This is my first article at my new job with Bleacher Report! I tried to keep it as true to my format as possible, but I'm still very much learning to use the BR photo cropper and formatting. 

As promised though, no slide show or top 10 list, just analysis. Hope you don't mind clicking the link and now more than ever your feedback is very much welcome!

Cheers,

Jack

 

Wanderlei Silva and Brian Stann are men who are cut from a similar cloth: that of the traditional sprawl and brawler. We all know the type - the man with cinder block hands and gritted teeth who will walk forward throwing heavy strikes and hoping to land a big blow before he is forced to dig for underhooks and smash his hips down on top of his opponent as they attempt a takedown.

While Silva's failures in recent years have largely been excused by his deteriorating physical attributes and continuing decline in technical variety—Stann's can be seen as something of an indication that this forward moving, punch and pummel style just doesn't work at the highest level anymore for men who lack a great wrestling pedigree.

Today we will look at why the method of sprawl and brawl which Wanderlei Silva pioneered in PRIDE just doesn’t work at the highest levels any more.

 

The Evolution of Takedown Prevention

I don't want to get too bogged down in how takedown defence has become more about pre-emptive avoidance but I will explain a little today to frame this piece. In the early days of MMA the style of counter wrestling which came to the fore was that of backing the opponent up, running in with strikes—looking for a knockout with each—and then dropping the hips hard and pummelling for underhooks (or looking for the double collar tie which Silva used to land knees so famously). It was an exhausting and strength based game.

In recent years the majority of MMA organisations have moved to cages rather than a ring, and this opens so many more options for the striker or BJJ exponent who lacks a wrestling pedigree. Firstly men who lacked the ability to sprawl on opponents and often got cornered in a ring now had the option of moving freely without the risk of ending up in a corner—fighters such as Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida experienced enormous benefits in their move from rings to cages. Distancing and footwork are now the most important elements of takedown prevention where even the enormous PRIDE ring made life claustrophobic for strikers due to its tight corners.

Further to that more and more fighters who lack a wrestling pedigree now feed their opponent a single leg takedown by widening their stance and making it difficult to pick up both legs then hop to the fence and use it to support them as they pummel for position. Moreover walk walking and bridging off of the fence are now commonplace. Just take a look at B.J. Penn feeding Diego Sanchez one leg and hopping to the fence. (This being my first article with Bleacher Report I hope you will excuse my lack of experience with BR's photo cropper).

http://bleacherreport.com/images/pixel.gif

 

This tactic is now commonplace particularly among members of the Nova Unaio and Black House camps. Feeding the lead hip is largely responsible for the successes of southpaws Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva simply because of the distance which a southpaw vs orthodox encounter creates—but that is a story for another day.

From here a striker can use a number of counter offensive methods while using the cage to support himself. Looking for the Thai style double collar tie is becoming more popular—Michael Bisping stifled Chael Sonnen with it, and Anderson Silva troubled Yushin Okami in the same way.

The switch is also becoming more commonplace. Threading the arm between the opponent’s inside arm and leg can be used to place tremendous pressure on the opponent’s arm, and can force a reversal of positions, open a path to the back or simply be used to break the opponent’s balance. I’m sure you can all recall Jose Aldo using this method in a great many of his matches, and recently Carlos Condit hit one on Georges St-Pierre.

Silva and Stann—strikers without a great wrestling pedigree who walk forward with their strikes and attempt to react to takedown attempts, rather than those who stand at range and look to make the opponent engage—are fossils in MMA, and I doubt that we will see many fighters without a great wrestling pedigree make this style work at the highest level again. Silva’s success in PRIDE, while legendary, was due to the circumstances under which he fought—most notably the level of striking ability among grapplers and their inexperience under fire and the tight corners of the ring into which he would rush his opponents and force a desperation shot right into his double collar tie.

 

The Wanderlei Silva Method

Wanderlei Silva’s striking was based in aggression and unpredictability in terms of what he would throw in his flurries. Often Silva began with a jab then would swing broadsides in from bizarre angles, mixing in the occasional high kick (which a couple of unfortunate opponents ducked on to) or a chopping low kick if he was feeling unusually patient.

It seemed like the entire goal of Silva’s striking, however, was to grab on to his opponent’s head and set to work with the knee strikes which he is infamous for. The swarming punches simply served to get his opponent covering or force them to duck toward his waist in desperation. At this moment he would slide his forearms in front of their collar bones as he took a grip on the back of their skull.

Below, against the enormously entertaining, durable and underappreciated Daijiro Matsui, Silva rushes Matsui into a corner, connecting a couple of solid punches, forcing Matsui to duck at his waist. From here Silva manages to back up far enough to slide into his double collar tie and begin landing knees.

Continues in further detail at: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1545683-ufc-on-fuel-8-brian-stann-vs-wanderlei-silva-is-silva-too-old-to-change

 

 

Ok. I read it and it's good.

The sport has evolved past Wanderlei.
I get it.

However, Wanderlei is and always will be my favorite fighter of all time, and the nicest guy in the world.

Good luck Jack.
WAR WANDERLEI! Phone Post

NomoRomophobia - 

Ok. I read it and it's good.

The sport has evolved past Wanderlei.
I get it.

However, Wanderlei is and always will be my favorite fighter of all time, and the nicest guy in the world.

Good luck Jack.
WAR WANDERLEI! Phone Post



Definitely the best fighter to his fans. Guy seems like the coolest dude in the world.



I used to be desperate to see Nogueira and Wanderlei retire because I didn't see the point in them getting hurt for money, but then I realised both have lucrative merchandising  and coaching deals and are fighting because they love to fight - you can't fault them for that.

ChokeEmOut - 

Not too bad, Rampage got KOd in one round Jack, there ess no second round in their first fight

Glad to see you point out what made Wanderlei so dangerous while being so damn aggressive.

Speed and power were his attributes. Winging hooks only to get someone to duck and cover so he could clinch to deliver knees

He is simply no longer has the same speed and power any longer. When he thinks out there, he can still give anyone hell Phone Post



Whoops =P Thats because I started writing about the second fight but then couldn't find footage of it! 

Great read Jack. Win or lose, Wandy has already cemented his legacy as one of the greatest in MMA. I truly hope he goes out in a blaze of glory, but I won't ever be dissapointed in his performances.

The guy comes to fight everytime and it will always be an honor to watch him perform. Phone Post

In recent years the majority of MMA organisations have moved to cages rather than a ring, and this opens so many more options for the striker or BJJ exponent who lacks a wrestling pedigree. Firstly men who lacked the ability to sprawl on opponents and often got cornered in a ring now had the option of moving freely without the risk of ending up in a corner--fighters such as Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida experienced enormous benefits in their move from rings to cages. Distancing and footwork are now the most important elements of takedown prevention where even the enormous PRIDE ring made life claustrophobic for strikers due to its tight corners.

Further to that more and more fighters who lack a wrestling pedigree now feed their opponent a single leg takedown by widening their stance and making it difficult to pick up both legs then hop to the fence and use it to support them as they pummel for position. Moreover walk walking and bridging off of the fence are now commonplace. Just take a look at B.J. Penn feeding Diego Sanchez one leg and hopping to the fence. (This being my first article with Bleacher Report I hope you will excuse my lack of experience with BR's photo cropper).


Tell this to guys like Haulport who insist the cage has ruined MMA by making it impossible for strikers to strike, because they just get pushed to the fence and taken down. So many claim the cage is tailor-made for wrestlers.

orcus - 
In recent years the majority of MMA organisations have moved to cages rather than a ring, and this opens so many more options for the striker or BJJ exponent who lacks a wrestling pedigree. Firstly men who lacked the ability to sprawl on opponents and often got cornered in a ring now had the option of moving freely without the risk of ending up in a corner--fighters such as Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida experienced enormous benefits in their move from rings to cages. Distancing and footwork are now the most important elements of takedown prevention where even the enormous PRIDE ring made life claustrophobic for strikers due to its tight corners.

Further to that more and more fighters who lack a wrestling pedigree now feed their opponent a single leg takedown by widening their stance and making it difficult to pick up both legs then hop to the fence and use it to support them as they pummel for position. Moreover walk walking and bridging off of the fence are now commonplace. Just take a look at B.J. Penn feeding Diego Sanchez one leg and hopping to the fence. (This being my first article with Bleacher Report I hope you will excuse my lack of experience with BR's photo cropper).

Tell this to guys like Haulport who insist the cage has ruined MMA by making it impossible for strikers to strike, because they just get pushed to the fence and taken down. So many claim the cage is tailor-made for wrestlers.

 

I think in the old days it did until folks started using the fence to hold themselves up. It's something we see constantly nowadays.

 

Back in the old days if you got someone against the fence you just reached down and scooped up both legs. Now fighters, good ones at least , know how to stand against the fence for ages and fight their opponent's hands.

Anyone remember how the slope of the Yamma was supposed to make it harder for wrestlers and in fact just made it super easy to lay on someone on a slight incline? ;)

Jack Slack - 
ChokeEmOut - 

Not too bad, Rampage got KOd in one round Jack, there ess no second round in their first fight

Glad to see you point out what made Wanderlei so dangerous while being so damn aggressive.

Speed and power were his attributes. Winging hooks only to get someone to duck and cover so he could clinch to deliver knees

He is simply no longer has the same speed and power any longer. When he thinks out there, he can still give anyone hell Phone Post



Whoops =P Thats because I started writing about the second fight but then couldn't find footage of it! 


You can watch the second fight here for free

http://www.ufc.com/media/ufc-bestofpride-101

Sick article by the way

I know Wanderlei isn't nearly the same fighter he used to be and isn't as quick, doesn't have the chin, however in my opinion he could've won fights he lost in the UFC had he used his mt clinch more often.

 

Seems Wanderlei got some of the Rampage kool aid and started getting comfortable with his striking from a distance instead of using it in the clinch which is at one time, his bread and butter and clearly better than anyone else in the game.

D241 -

I know Wanderlei isn't nearly the same fighter he used to be and isn't as quick, doesn't have the chin, however in my opinion he could've won fights he lost in the UFC had he used his mt clinch more often.

 

Seems Wanderlei got some of the Rampage kool aid and started getting comfortable with his striking from a distance instead of using it in the clinch which is at one time, his bread and butter and clearly better than anyone else in the game.

Indeed bro. You can say the same for Shogun. I have yet to see Rua implement his Thai clinch in the UFC. Wandy kind of touched on it in the Le fight, but your right, he should definitely go back to that more often now...especially since his career is on a time limit. Phone Post

Subd Phone Post

The Gumball Kid - Cool! Will read at lunch unless ya got an audible version for me nowsers!


No audible but maybe a podcast soon ;)

orcus - 
In recent years the majority of MMA organisations have moved to cages rather than a ring, and this opens so many more options for the striker or BJJ exponent who lacks a wrestling pedigree. Firstly men who lacked the ability to sprawl on opponents and often got cornered in a ring now had the option of moving freely without the risk of ending up in a corner--fighters such as Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida experienced enormous benefits in their move from rings to cages. Distancing and footwork are now the most important elements of takedown prevention where even the enormous PRIDE ring made life claustrophobic for strikers due to its tight corners.

Further to that more and more fighters who lack a wrestling pedigree now feed their opponent a single leg takedown by widening their stance and making it difficult to pick up both legs then hop to the fence and use it to support them as they pummel for position. Moreover walk walking and bridging off of the fence are now commonplace. Just take a look at B.J. Penn feeding Diego Sanchez one leg and hopping to the fence. (This being my first article with Bleacher Report I hope you will excuse my lack of experience with BR's photo cropper).


Tell this to guys like Haulport who insist the cage has ruined MMA by making it impossible for strikers to strike, because they just get pushed to the fence and taken down. So many claim the cage is tailor-made for wrestlers.


There are advantages and disadvantages to each, the overall structure and ruleset favor the wrestlers(the cage) because strikers have less weapons to fend off takedown attempts and people use the cage as a weapon in itself. Defensive strikers like Lyoto and Anderson would be less effective in a ring because they could get cornered like Jack said, but more offensive strikers like Wand and CroCop are more effective because they can cut you off and corner you.

The overall structure of the cage and the ruleset clearly favor wrestlers but defensive strikers like Machida who rely on movement actually benefit from it because of the lack of corners

You're insane if you think the cage is BETTER for the striker. The giant sprawling cage combined with the unified rules are the main reason wrestling is so important in the UFC.

Pugilist82 - You're insane if you think the cage is BETTER for the striker. The giant sprawling cage combined with the unified rules are the main reason wrestling is so important in the UFC.

 

Depends what kind of striker you are. If you're the rush at them then try to sprawl type the corners of the ring might be better for you.

 

But for strikers who move and backpeddle there is no way that the cage, with no significant corners, isn't a massive advantage. Anderson, Lyoto, Aldo - none of them would be half as effective at dissuading takedowns against elite wrestlers in a ring where they could be cornered. Half of their game is just never being in a position for the opponent to shoot on them.

 

Add to it that you can't bridge off of or wall walk against a ring.

Pugilist82 - You're insane if you think the cage is BETTER for the striker. The giant sprawling cage combined with the unified rules are the main reason wrestling is so important in the UFC.

Agreed that makes no sense

Jack Slack - 
Pugilist82 - You're insane if you think the cage is BETTER for the striker. The giant sprawling cage combined with the unified rules are the main reason wrestling is so important in the UFC.

 

Depends what kind of striker you are. If you're the rush at them then try to sprawl type the corners of the ring might be better for you.

 


But for strikers who move and backpeddle there is no way that the cage, with no significant corners, isn't a massive advantage. Anderson, Lyoto, Aldo - none of them would be half as effective at dissuading takedowns against elite wrestlers in a ring where they could be cornered. Half of their game is just never being in a position for the opponent to shoot on them.


I know but in terms of overall ruleset and structure it favors the wrestler, defensive strikes like Lyoto who are far and few in between benefit from it but generally speaking it clearly favors the wrestlers

epic hero - 
Jack Slack - 
Pugilist82 - You're insane if you think the cage is BETTER for the striker. The giant sprawling cage combined with the unified rules are the main reason wrestling is so important in the UFC.

 

Depends what kind of striker you are. If you're the rush at them then try to sprawl type the corners of the ring might be better for you.

 

But for strikers who move and backpeddle there is no way that the cage, with no significant corners, isn't a massive advantage. Anderson, Lyoto, Aldo - none of them would be half as effective at dissuading takedowns against elite wrestlers in a ring where they could be cornered. Half of their game is just never being in a position for the opponent to shoot on them.


I know but in terms of overall ruleset and structure it favors the wrestler, defensive strikes like Lyoto who are far and few in between benefit from it but generally speaking it clearly favors the wrestlers

Oh definitely, but personally I believe all MMA set ups favor the wrestler. It just seens that a different type of striker succeeds at the highest level in the cage than in the ring.

Jack Slack - 
epic hero - 
Jack Slack - 
Pugilist82 - You're insane if you think the cage is BETTER for the striker. The giant sprawling cage combined with the unified rules are the main reason wrestling is so important in the UFC.

 

Depends what kind of striker you are. If you're the rush at them then try to sprawl type the corners of the ring might be better for you.

 


But for strikers who move and backpeddle there is no way that the cage, with no significant corners, isn't a massive advantage. Anderson, Lyoto, Aldo - none of them would be half as effective at dissuading takedowns against elite wrestlers in a ring where they could be cornered. Half of their game is just never being in a position for the opponent to shoot on them.


I know but in terms of overall ruleset and structure it favors the wrestler, defensive strikes like Lyoto who are far and few in between benefit from it but generally speaking it clearly favors the wrestlers


Oh definitely, but personally I believe all MMA set ups favor the wrestler. It just seens that a different type of striker succeeds at the highest level in the cage than in the ring.


With the way the rules are and how the judging is I agree, in a cage I feel it's much worse however, look at Cain vs JDS Cain could just rush him with reckless abandon that wouldn't work in a ring because of being able to strike a downed opponent

put wandy on TRT plese.......