29 April 2014

Baddest Motherfuckers Ever- Wanderlei Silva

October 1998, fresh off a solid bout of dysentary contracted in China during a summer of study abroad, I'm finally back up to a reasonable bodyweight and am invited by a badass broad I'd only just met to join her at her friend's house to watch UFC Brazil.  Tank Abbott was, at the time, the living embodiment of Godzilla's unstoppable juggernaut persona mixed with a white trash bar brawler's total lack of respect for his opponent and utter disregard for sportsmanship.  He was, to a college-age asshole, the greatest fighter of all time- Mike Tyson with less rape and more humor.  Thus, in honor of that fat-assed, drunken, 600 lbs bencher, my buddies and I blasted bench, then headed to Hooters to drink in the bloody spectacularity that was Tank.

There we sat, soaking up the bloodsoaked goodness of UFC Brazil, when the pre-fight promos for Wanderlei Silva vs. Vitor Belfort started.  We'd not heard of either guy, but the intro made it look like the fight of the night, and we were not disappointed.  Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva was billed as the only fighter in history who earned his nickname and didn't give it to himself.  After seeing the fight, many years later, that earned him that moniker, it was no wonder the announcers thought this fight was going to be insane- Wanderlei had a reputation for nearly killing himself in an effort to mangle his opponents, and did so with about as much regard for his phsyical condition as Honey Boo-Boo has for her own.  You have to admire that kind of ferocity in a fighter, and the UFC's announcers definitely did... at least until Vitor Belfort beat Wandy half into a coma in what was one of the fast beatdowns in mma history and what will go down in history as the most effective modified straight blast in history.


Clearly, this was not an auspicious start for Silva, who later earned a reputation for being an utter fucking beast in the Japanese promotion Pride but struggling whenever his soccer kicks and stomps were taken away.  Silva, however, continued to forge ahead, pulling down the most wins in PRIDE history, the longest undefeated streak in PRIDE history, the most knockouts in PRIDE history, the Sports Illustrated 2004 Knockout of the Decade, and a 35–12–1 record in a fighting career that has spanned almost 20 years, three weightclasses, and just about the entirety of modern mixed martial arts.  Additionally, Silva's founded his own fight team, opened a free mma gym in Paraiba, Brazil, and intends to run for Brazilian Congress in 2014.

That about sums up the awesome that has been Silva's career.

Two factors have played heavily into The Axe Murder's success- psychotic, unrestrained, bloody foam-at-the-lips aggression, and brute strength.  As to the former, you need look no further than Silva's fights- they're almost invariably ten seconds of staring, followed by Silva getting punched and then losing his fucking mind in an effort to end the offending puncher.  Silva's so aggressive taht I used to joke he'd have to be caged backstage to prevent brawls from breaking out in the locker room, and the Japanese treated Silva much in the way they would have a prized rabid fighting dog or Musashi the famed, unwashed hobo of a Japanese swordsman- they feared him just enough to throw an endless supply of tiny fearless Japanese into the ring with him to prove their mettle by nearly dying at the hands of an indomitable foe.  

One pundit from Bleacher Report Characterized Silva thusly,
"In a sport filled to the brim with violent and scary men, Silva is the scariest. He has an aura of violence. He doesn't just commit unspeakably monstrous acts in the ring—he exudes malice"(Snowden).
That's the kind of guy Wanderlei Silva is- not only does he give zero fucks, but he intends you to reduce his opposition to a state in which they're incapable of giving a fuck about anything ever again.  In case you're new to mma and think Wandy is overrated, you need watch nothing more than Wandy's fight with former IFC, Superbrawl, and UFC fixture Eugene Jackson, whom Wandy dismantled with extreme prejudice in short order under very loose Brazilian vale tudo rules.

Beyond Silva's aggression is his strength, which is legendary.  According to UFC legend Tito Ortiz, Silva is one of the two hardest punchers he's ever faced, and given that Ortiz has a head so large that he'd not look our of place standing on a grassy knoll in Easter Island, that's high praise.  A quick glance at any of Silva's fights shows he manhandles even opponents who outweigh him considerably, like Mark Hunt, and a look at his record is a written testament to Silva's strength- twenty seven of his thirty-five wins are by way of knockout.  

Though you'll see much is made these days of circuit training with elite fighters and the "fact" that these fighters eschew traditional strength training methods, that's simply not the case- Matt Hughes, who built a career on his strength, relied heavily on bodypart training and heavy weights (Hughes); George St. Pierre does heavy snatches and incline bench pressing as regular parts of his training (Bornstein); low-kick knockout artist and overall monster Pat Barry trains heavier than most powerlifters; and the guy who KO'd Barry in under a minute, Shawn Jordan, who benches 610lbs and power cleans 440lbs.  Despite what the 135 lb "experts" on the forums might assert,  brutal power comes from brutal training, and Wanderlei Silva is no exception.  Though Silva's career has spanned about as much time as most of the readers of this article have been alive, his methods have hardly been stagnant.  Instead, Silva's been on the cutting edge of training methods for years, mixing unorthodox and new styles of training in with the tried and true. 

When you're looking at Wandy's much ballyhooed conditioning routine of late, you must bear in mind one thing- he's doing this routine as a circuit with his nose taped shut, wearing a weighted vest, and breathing through a snorkel.  This training style, called hipoxia, is the latest training method in experimentation under Wandy's strength and conditioning coach, Rafael Alejarra, and complements his regular strength training.  Not unlike Sean Sherk's training, Wandy's conditioning consists of heavy-bag body slams, incline sprinting, battling ropes, light olympic lifting, and the modified viking presses you'll see American football linemen doing, in addition to other, even less fun drills and lifts... all while wearing that snorkel and vest with his nose shut.  After watching the video, I concluded I'd be dead within minutes of cardiac arrest, and thus forgave Wandy what on the surface seemed like baby weights.

Circuits 1 and 2 should be done twice in a row, and circuit 3 should be completed three times.  The entire thing should take no more than 25 minutes, and should be be conducted four times a week with a 45 pound vest, one's nose taped, and the snorkel on one's face.  The point here is not simply conditioning- it's to get an athlete to tolerate massive amounts of lactic acid in the blood.  Wandy's trainer has tested this extensively and has presented the results to the Brazilian Masters of Exercise Biochemistry board to demonstrate the extreme increase in the conditioning of both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.

Circuit 1

  1. Clean and Jerk: 8 Reps x 110 lbs
  2. 1 Meter Jump: AMRAP x 30 seconds
  3. Punching Machine: 15 Reps x 55 lbs
  4. Run 3 Flights of Stairs

Rest for 40 seconds between circuits

Circuit 2

  1. Pull Downs: 12 Reps x 200 lbs
  2. Resistance Bands: 4 Wrestling Shots
  3. Lateral Box Plyometric Push Offs: AMRAP x 30 seconds 
  4. Run 3 Flight of Stairs

Rest for 40 seconds between circuits

Circuit 3

  1. Clean and Jerk: 8 Reps x 110 pounds
  2. Pulldowns: 12 Reps x 200lbs
  3. 5 Sprawl Drills
  4. Run 3 Flights of Stairs

Rest for 40 seconds between circuits

While that's all well and good, you might be thinking, it hardly sheds light on Wandy's knockout power.  That, it seems, comes from his strength training workouts, which are generally structured like Matt Hughes and Sean Sherk's- bodypart workouts consisting of supersetted exercises to train maximimum volume and opposing muscle groups in minimum time.  Additionally, he trains with bodybuilder/fighter Phil Baroni, who uses a push/pull/legs split in his routine.  From videos of his training, the lifting itself doesn't look particularly interesting outside of the fact that it is all done in commercial gyms, and incorporates a lot of machine and cable work.  Wandy's rep ranges seem to stick to the 6-8 rep range are done with fairly loose form, emphasis being on the weight moved and the speed of movement.  That would fall in line with the study conducted by Mack, et al, which showed that hand velocity was an excellent indicator of strike force- explosive force is much more important than static strength or power in terms of determining punch force.

In summary, Wanderlei Silva is one of the baddest motherfuckers to ever walk the Earth- aside from being one of the hardest punchers on the planet, he will headbutt an opponent until his face is falling off simply because his opponent's head still seems to be attached, will happily soccer kick a small Japanese man in the face for a paycheck, employs training techniques that border on medieval torture mixed with auto-erotic asphyxiation, and has the single greatest pre-fight staredown in the history of pugilism.  If that isn't inspiration for all of us to harden the fuck up, I don't know what is.  Go wreck something.

Bornstein, Adam and Abby Lerner.  Georges St. Pierre's UFC Workout.  Men's Health.  Web.  29 Apr 2014.  http://www.menshealth.com/celebrity-fitness/slideshows/georges-st-pierres-ufc-workout-slideshow

Hughes, Matt.  Training.  Matt Hughes.  Web.  29 Apr 2014.  http://www.matt-hughes.com/training.html

Jon, Mikhail.  Wanderlei Silva's extreme conditioning workout.  Mixedmartialarts.com.  27 Oct 2009.  Web.  9 Apr 2014.  http://www.mixedmartialarts.com/?go=blogs.Detail&gid=20846

Mack J, Stojsih S, Sherman D, Dau N, Bir C.  Amateur boxer biomechanics and punch force.  Int Con Biomechanics Sport. 2010, (28): 1-4.

Rousseau, Robert.  Biography and Profile of Wanderlei Silva.  About.com.  Web.  29 Apr 2014.

Snowden, Jonathan.  UFC 147 Preview: 10 Moments That Made Wanderlei Silva MMA's Scariest Man.  Bleacher Report.  18 Jun 2012.  Web.  29 Apr 2014.  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1225793-ufc-147-preview-10-moments-that-made-wanderlei-silva-mmas-scariest-man

Top five MMA training routines.  Joe.ie.  2011.  Web.  9 Apr 2014.  http://www.joe.ie/health/exercise-of-the-week/top-five-mma-training-routines/

Wanderlei Silva training MMA.  Pro Fighter Workouts.  Web.  9 Apr 2014.  http://www.profighterworkouts.com/wanderlei

Wanderlei Silva’s Training Methods Are Unconventional.  Cage Potato.  1 May 2008.  Web.  9 Apr 2014.  http://www.cagepotato.com/wanderlei-silvas-training-methods-are-unconventional/


  1. He trains with cables and machines in a commercial gym because that's all we have here in Brazil.

    1. It's funny you say that because this is the nicest gym I've ever seen and it happens to be in Brazil

    2. This is the exception to the rule, most gyms here are complete piles of shit, they never have power racks or oly barbells.

    3. Holy shit, that gym seems awesome. It's a piece of shit that I live on the other side of São Paulo.

      Igor is right. It's really hard to find a rack and even harder to find someone who squat more than 300lbs.

  2. He's waiting for someone to call him a pussy to his face...Any takers?

  3. He's made my brain automatically associate Sandstorm with a little of the old ultra violence.

  4. Are there people who claim Wanderlei was overrated? Seriously?

    Silva was very talented. He simply eschewed his fighting skills pretty regularly because he was a bloodthirsty sadist and wanted knockouts. I think the most obvious example of this is when he caught Sakuraba in a triangle choke but let it go.

  5. Amazing BME! This guy is the definition of Badass. He had to have reconstructive surgery done on his nose from over a decade of brawls, just so he could breathe haha. Now he looks like a vampire or something. They also spar at 100% with no head gear, and get knocked out on the regular. Which is unheard of for MMA training in North America. My buddy's and I train with no gear except for a mouth guard and MMA gloves. It is such a primal adrenaline rush, I've always been amazed by the development of his shoulders and upper back, especially his traps when he has his hands up in fighting stance. My favourite fighter is Vitor but he doesn't have the never say die attitude that Wandy represents.

    Check out this staredown! Gives me chills everytime: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsAbeYpK-6w

    1. He needs a rematch with Vitor! That would be a wild fight. Did you watch Wanderlei knock Brian Stann the fuck out?! If not you should look er up

  6. Here is an example of Wandy Sparring a Heavyweight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2qGSHdPWYw

  7. Oops retarded mistake there... Buddies not buddy's haha

  8. That is maybe useful from a training point of view but I always liked the far less-talented convicted child molester Pat Smith.

    1. I'd probably be more inclined to do one on Art Jimmerson, if we're taking it back that far. Frankly, one on Hammer House's training in the early oughts might be interesting.

  9. Will you do an article on Crocop as well?

    1. Do one on Viacheslav Datsik if you haven't already.

    2. Isn't he in the nuthatch now? I don't think I could outdo Seanbaby's writeup on that nutter.

    3. I might do one on Crocop at some point.

  10. Just stumbled across this gem lol You must have been so frustrated


    06-06-2012, 10:13 PM

    Once more- Mark Rippetoe, if you happen to read this, I owe you a beer. It was unfair to judge you on the basis of what I'd read online. While you and I might fundamentally disagree on a great many of your points in Practical Programming, I apologize for any disparaging remarks I might have made about you.

    Your fanbase, on the other hand, should be sent to the fucking camps.


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