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Wanderlei Silva's return to his home, the Saitama Super Arena, is nothing short of heartwarming. The iconic walkout, the raucous Japanese crowd and the intense staredown seconds before the fight had this down as a classic-in-the-making before it even started.
"Either one of these fighters could wake up with a flashing in their face asking 'what happened?'" - Joe Rogan
The fairytale return for Wanderlei threatened to be over when an initial brawl with Brian Stann sees the Axe Murderer knocked down in the opening minute. 30 seconds later, Wanderlei was down again.
The fight was electric for as long as it lasted, chaotic in every exchange, but Wanderlei was not out.
After surviving an early onslaught, Wanderlei cracked a smile at Stann and motioned for the American to enter his striking range for another brawl. Stann accepted and thus we were treated to one of the craziest and most violent brawls in UFC history.
After a sustained slugfest, and with less than a minute left of the first round, Stann wobbled Wanderlei who returned with a shovel hook to drop Stann and open up a nasty cut. Stann was leaking profusely over the canvas as the referee separated both men to signal the end of the round.
Wanderlei, aged 36, had somehow survived the opening round. This would end up being the final fight of his UFC career and a moment he'd cherish forever.
The second round spelled more of the same chaos and carnage until Wanderlei caught Stann pressing forward and dropped him in a devastating fashion. The follow-up shots were reminiscent of Pride-era Wanderlei. His fairytale night concluded with a happy ending.
UFC Fight Pass subscribers can watch the fight here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/30009/wanderlei-silva-vs-brian-stann-ufc-fight-night
The fight is also available on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43RDwgOKfNg