On May 22, it was announced that MMA legend Wanderlei Silva had signed with Battlefield Fighting Championship as an honorary ambassador, helping to promote the organization’s second event Battlefield FC 2, which takes place July 27 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel Macau in Macau, China.
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Having signed a notable list of UFC veterans to compete on the card, the Korean promotion is looking to make waves in the industry after a two-year hiatus from the sport, believing that the “Axe Murderer” will bring both attention and top-tier talent to the company. In an exclusive interview with The Body Lock, Silva said he plans on doing just that.
“My agents contacted me to be ambassador of this event… to open the doors to the Brazilian fighters [and] help make Battlefield FC 2 one of the biggest events in the world,” Silva said. “I’ll [bring] the best fighters in Brazil to fight in Battlefield. We’re going to bring two to Macau, two of my best guys, and we’re gonna work on social media and make the event more famous.”
While his work in the cage speaks for itself, in recent years Silva has begun managing and coaching fighters from Brazil in an effort to build the next generation of talent. Aware that he is in the twilight of his fighting career, the former Pride middleweight champion hopes that with Battlefield he can help create the next star of the sport.
“I want to bring the best fighters in the world to fight in Battlefield… Try to put these guys on the best events in the world. I hope we can bring someone and make a new Wanderlei Silva in Battlefield. I know what the guys need to do.”
Bringing Battlefield FC to Brazil
It should come as no surprise that the Brazilian legend believes his home country is where that next star will be found. Brazil has a storied history with mixed martial arts, producing various champions and elite fighters over the past several decades, though few more notable than Silva himself. It’s for this reason that the 42-year-old veteran believes Battlefield should not only visit his homeland but the rest of South America as well.
“I would love to bring Battlefield to Brazil. Brazil is a huge market; we are 235 million people.” Silva said, “We can bring Battlefield [to] all South American countries…Brazil, Paraguay, a lot of countries. [There are] a lot of fighters over here, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile…these places don’t have big [events] like Battlefield. I think we can do a great job with Battlefield here in South America.”
Although building a fan base in South America would help Battlefield gain a foothold in the increasingly saturated MMA market, it will need to attract worldwide viewership in order to compete with bigger promotions. The “Axe Murderer” knows this, but believes that given the current state of technology, showcasing the promotion to a global audience won’t be a tough task.
“Now is a new moment for the sport. We have a lot of platforms to show the event. If we make one system to show the event on [the] internet live, around the world, and make good fights, for sure we’re gonna be big.” The Brazilian legend said, “We have a lot more opportunities today, a lot of good fighters in the world, and I’m [here] to help make Battlefield big.”
Whether or not Battlefield Fighting Championship will become a real player in the market is yet to be seen. The promotion has faced heavy criticism for taking over a year to pay its athletes after its inaugural card and has created its own cryptocurrency that can be used for live betting during its events. The additions of names like Will Brooks and Bryan Caraway to its active roster is promising for the Korean promotion, but it will need more than that to reach the level of prestige that “Mad Dog” has envisioned.
Fighting for Battlefield FC
As for Silva’s fighting future, things remain very much in flux. Since returning to active competition he has yet to be victorious, dropping a unanimous decision to Chael Sonnen in 2017 and losing via TKO against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson last September at Bellator 206. Admitting that he is showing signs of CTE, Bellator President Scott Coker has stated that Silva will have to be cleared by experts before he can fight again for the Viacom owned promotion.
With all that being said, Silva expects to keep fighting, and believes one day he could move from ambassador to competitor under the Battlefield FC banner.
“I have a contract right now with Bellator. When this contract is finished, maybe I can fight for Battlefield.” Silva said, “Why not? I like the event, I like the promoters, I like the way the guys treat me over there.”
But for the moment, Silva’s just focused on making Battlefield FC 2 a success.
“I’m very happy to meet all [the fans] over there. We’re gonna make it a really really really good [event] together.”
Patrick is a consultant turned journalist who loves the fight game and everything to do with it. Focusing on the politics, business, and general state of MMA are his mainstays, though he'll dabble in analysis and best bets when he can. He also enjoys football, basketball, baseball, and great jokes in general so feel free to reach out and berate him on social media whenever you disagree with him.