Paving the Way For Anderson - Wanderlei Silva's Vale Tudo Career

A classic shot between two great Chute Boxe fighters.

Oh, hello. Welcome back! Today is fourth installment of the critically acclaimed series "Paving the way for Anderson". In part one I discussed the impact of the Gracie Family with the creation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Part two was a look at the career and influence of Marco Ruas, a Vale Tudo fighter who is credited as the first to blend Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The third part was a look at one of the No Holds Barred legends of Brazil Jose Landi-Jons, a fighter who perfected the Chute Boxe style. Today will continue where I left off with a look at Wanderlei Silva and his Chute Boxe focused career in Japan. 

When one thinks of Chute Boxe, the first name often associated with the legendary camp is Wanderlei Silva. Silva grew up as a street fighter before enlisting in the army and refining his already impressive Muay Thai. It was after his enlistment ended that he began to enter the various Vale Tudo events around Brazil. Silva quickly made a name for himself as a vicious striker who constantly overwhelmed opponents with power punches. He was one of the first fighters out of Chute Boxe and was a direct student of head coach Rudimar Fedrigo. 

As Fraser Cofeen touched on yesterday, the IVC was planning to become the Brazilian equivalent of the UFC by holding one night tournaments. The bare knuckle nature of these fights often meant that fighters suffered broken hands. It also meant that the overall damage was a lot more significant. It was here that Wanderlei cut his teeth as a fighter. Wanderlei entered the second IVC event and picked up two wins on the night before the finals ended in controversial fashion. It was in the finals of this tournament that showcased the killer instinct that would be his reputation through his career. Though he blasted Artur Mariano with power shots, a cut over his left eye forced the ringside physician to stop the fight. 

This fight and more Wanderlei vale tudo fights after the jump.

He returned at IVC 6 to challenge the IVC 4 tournament winner Mike Van Arsdale. Though fans today know Van Arsdale as the trainer of Rashad Evans, when he entered the world of NHB/MMA in 1998, he was considered one of the best pure athletes in the sport. A NCAA D1 champion, Van Arsdale had the wrestling credentials to become a force in MMA. When he faced Silva in Sao Paulo on that August evening, his career came to a premature halt. Unable to secure the takedown and maintain top control, Van Arsdale resort to side kicks to keep Silva off balance and at a distance. When Wanderlei finally laid hands on Van Arsdale, he collapsed to the ground. A well placed soccer kick to the back of the head that would make Ronaldinho smile ended the American's night. Van Arsdale wouldn't return to fighting for four years.

The win caught the eye of the UFC who invited Wanderlei to participate in the UFC Brazil event in 1998. His opponent was UFC poster boy Vitor Belfort. Vitor came out and blitzed Wanderlei with what seems like 50 punches knocking the Chute Boxe fighter silly and ending the fight in 44 seconds. The loss sent Wanderlei back to the Brazilian Vale Tudo scene and IVC. It also made him more vicious than he was before. His opponent Adrian Serrano was outgunned and outmatched. Silva swarmed him with a 1-2 combo and ended the fight with a soccer kick.

IVC rewarded Silva with a title fight against the 9-1-1 American Eugene Jackson at IVC 10. Wanderlei reached a level of violence that he had never achieved. Utilizing the clinch, he landed knees and then swarmed the downed American with ground and pound. In just over 30 seconds he was the IVC light heavyweight champion. This fight marked the end of his IVC career.

Wanderlei had one more fight in Brazil before making the permanent jump to PRIDE FC. Meca World Vale Tudo 2 was a card promoted in Curitiba, Brazil. Earlier in the evening his Chute Boxe teammates found success in all but one fight. Anderson Silva and Murilo Rua were young in their MMA careers and showed dominance in their wins. It was up to Wanderlei to finish the night strong against Todd Medina, a Jiu Jitsu fighter training under Carlson Gracie. The fight is perhaps the most one sided beat down in the history of MMA. Medina landed zero strikes and was kneed 13 times before dropped face first to the mat. The Axe Murderer was born that evening. 

Following the win, Wanderlei became a full time PRIDE fighter. His success in the organization opened up the doors for his Chute Boxe teammates who would debut shortly after. His streak of wins was unmatched by any of his contemporaries and he was the best light heavyweight in the world from 2000-2006. His training sessions at Chute Boxe became stuff of legend. Where most gyms scoffed at the idea of sparring at 100 percent, the men in Curitiba perfected their craft in what many would mistake for fights. For Wanderlei, this full speed sparring has had negative effects on his career later in life, but during his reign of terror, it was responsible for maintaining his killer instinct.

Though Wanderlei and Anderson don't share similar fighting styles, their Muay Thai skills that have carried them during their careers were developed and sharpened at the Chute Boxe Academy. Anderson's departure from the gym in 2003 could have prematurely ended the camp. He, along with Assuerio Silva and the Rua brothers felt like they were being taken advantage of by Rudimar. Fedrigo caught wind and allegedly paid the Mauricio and Murilo to stay. Anderson started the Muay Thai Dream Team and left for Rio to train with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Following the departure Wanderlei saw Anderson as an enemy. He would hold this grudge until his return to the UFC where the two eventually made peace.

Tomorrow is the final day of this series where I discuss the career of the greatest Brazilian fighter not named Anderson Silva. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and his career before Fedor Emelianenko

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