#13 - Wanderlei Silva vs Rampage Jackson 2 - Pride 28 - Oct 31st 2004
This one’s a bit of a no brainer. One of the most memorable and legendary rivalries in MMA history and this is the best fight of the bunch.
It all started at Pride 25 on the night of March 16th 2003. Rampage had just beat Kevin Randleman and after the fight he gestured to Wanderlei, who was Pride’s Middleweight champion at the time, sitting at ringside. Wandy being the nutcase he was back then, jumped straight in the ring and chaos ensued...
The ring quickly filled up and it nearly kicked off a huge battle royal style brawl. And from there, it was on. Lots of shit talking and threats back and forth. Mostly from Rampage. This video was everywhere at the time following the push in the gif above.
Rampage never shut up about it. As soon as Wandy shoved Rampage, that fight was inevitable. It was everything Pride loved and it fell right in their lap. But they both had other business to sort out before they could square off. They were both entered into the Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament which was kicking off in the summer. At Total Elimination in August, Wanderlei knocked out Sakuraba (again) and Rampage edged a close decision against Murilo Bustamante to advance to the Semi Finals in November.
At Final Conflict, Wandy beat Hidehiko Yoshida and Rampage battered Chuck Liddell into crumbs in front of a heartbroken Dana White. The finals were set. Wanderlei and Rampage would finally go nose to nose.
And Wandy beat the absolute shite out of him. It was all over in about 6 minutes. And the final onslaught Wand unleashed on him was insane. Rewatching now, 17 years after the fact, does nothing to lessen the brutality of it. Watching the finish again just now, from the beginning of the final flurry until the referee waves it off, I counted 17 unanswered knees to the head and body, a bunch of punches and a few soccer kicks thrown in for good measure. It was a complete mugging and Rampage was all lumped up after the fight.
They both moved on. Wandy continued wreaking havoc by scoring a quick knockout over Ikuhisa Minowa and stomping Yuki Kondo’s head in. Rampage bounced back well with his own win over Minowa plus the highlight reel powerbomb KO of Ricardo Arona.
The shit talking had never stopped between Wandy and Rampage this whole time. Rampage had his excuses for the loss the first time, as he always did. And Wanderlei seemed to welcome the opportunity to get to smash his face again. The bad blood had only intensified and with both coming off strong wins, the rematch was set. And this time it would be for the title.
“Personally, I don’t think anything about him. I just don’t like him. I’ll face him like any other opponent. I’m going to knock him out again and this will be a very aggressive fight.” - Wanderlei Silva
— — — — —
“I’m not here for people to like me. I’m glad he don’t like me. He’s been on a winning streak too long. You can’t be on top forever. He’s had his day, now it’s time for him to lose. He whooped my ass! It’s time for me to return the favour.” - Rampage Jackson
Wanderlei Silva (c) vs Rampage Jackson - Middleweight Title
Pride 28: High Octane
October 31st 2004
How fitting, after the horrifying finish in the first fight, that the rematch would go down on Halloween night.
National anthems first. Always liked that little touch for the big title fights, GP finals and stuff. Rampage is trying to be all cool, getting his phone out in the corner and pretending to be talking to someone when the Brazilian anthem starts. Cock. Wandy still looks like he’s chewing a wasp while he’s being all patriotic. Round 1: And we’re off! Like the first fight, Rampage gets off to a solid start, peppering Wand with knees to the body and dirty boxing from the clinch. Doesn’t take long for it to break down into all-out warfare though. Both have their moments early on but nothing hugely significant from either man. It’s good stuff though. You can just feel the hatred there and it’s just a matter of time until it really erupts. Wand starts opening up with the Thai clinch knees again and Rampage takes him down. Rampage works from the top but Wandy defends pretty well off his back and the ref eventually stands them up. It’s been fairly even on the feet until the last minute when all of a sudden...
Rampage drops Wanderlei! He follows up with some ground and pound as Wand just tries to defend and survive the round. Rampage with a big knee to the head on the ground and some punches to put the exclamation point on a great opening round.
Round 2: There’s a real sense of urgency now from Wanderlei and he comes out all guns blazing and just windmilling rights and lefts at Rampage’s big basketball head. After a brief spell on the ground they’re back up and Wandy’s going to town with the old soccer kicks.
Back on the feet and they’re trading heavy leather now. This must’ve been incredible to watch live. Sadly, we had to make do with getting tapes weeks and often months after the fact from online traders, by which time you’d know the results. Anyway, they’re both slinging bombs and Wand slips a right hook through that connects flush against Rampage’s head. This bastard...
On the video you hear the thud of it clearly and, even knowing Rampage had a concrete noggin back then, I’m amazed he didn’t drop from that punch. But he’s badly rocked and that’s all Wandy needs to see. The floodgates have opened and Wand is swarming all the fuck over him with a barrage of strikes. He gets the Thai clinch and starts with the knees. He throws about 5 hard knees, most of them are hitting the arms but then one gets through and connects clean, sending Rampage’s limp body face first like Apollo Creed after the final Drago death blow.
Needless to say, Rampage is out cold before he even hits the ground. It’s all over. Wanderlei Silva is still the Pride Middleweight champion. Still unbeaten in his 4 years in Pride. Winner - Wanderlei Silva by knockout. Round 2 - 3:26. ”WANDERLEI SILVA! DOES ANYONE POSSESS THE KRYPTONITE TO STOP PRIDE’S MIDDLEWEIGHT SUPERMAN!” - Mauro Ranallo
I’ve always loved this fight. The whole series between them has been a hell of a ride but this is the best fight of their rivalry by far. Unlike the first fight, they both came in fresh and it was more competitive and entertaining as a result. Not to mention the finish.
That image is up there with the most memorable and iconic in Pride history.
With Wandy 2-0, the feud seemed dead in the water at this point. They both finished out their Pride stints with mixed results before jumping over to the UFC in 2007. Wandy lost to Chuck Liddell then rebounded by mauling Keith Jardine in seconds. And in the meantime, Rampage had won and lost the UFC Light Heavyweight strap and had that mad episode where he stayed up all night on energy drinks then thought he was in GTA and got the police chasing him through the streets of California.
In late 2008, it was announced that Wandy vs Rampage 3 was going down.
Rampage finally got one back. It wasn’t much of a fight. They circled, circled some more, circled even more, then bang. A colossal left hook from Rampage connected and Wandy was flat on his back with his legs all stiff. Whole thing was done and dusted in 3 minutes. I was gutted. Wanderlei was fading by this point and I hated that he’d lost his perfect record against Rampage. He’d already won the trilogy 2-0. This just fucked that up. But it was some KO punch.
After that, they went on different paths for years. Wanderlei dropped to 185 and had a very up and down run. As always though, wildly entertaining. His fights with Brian Stann, Cung Le and Rich Franklin were awesome. But ultimately he went 3-4 after the KO loss to Rampage, got himself mixed up in USADA controversy and returned in 2017 to get blanketed by Chael Sonnen to a lopsided UD. Rampage had a few big fights with the likes of Jon Jones and Rashad Evans but it became clear by 2010/11 that he was pretty much done at the top level.
Then in 2018, out of the blue Scott Coker just said fuck it and booked Wanderlei vs Rampage 4 in Bellator. At Heavyweight! Bonkers. Still can’t quite believe it actually happened.
By far the weakest fight of the rivalry but I’ll never not be drawn in by these two facing off. I don’t care. You could take a camera to a retirement home when they’re both in their 70s and I’ll still watch them scrap over the last Werther’s Original. Anyway, Rampage evened the score with a second round stoppage...
Like I said, it wasn’t the best. They were both visibly older, slower, fatter versions of their once great selves and it showed. It wasn’t a bad fight, just nowhere near the bar their previous fights had set.
What a mad journey. A rivalry that spanned what 15 years, and 3 major MMA promotions. And despite the declining quality as the series went on, one thing you could count on is a big finish every time. And with it all tied now at 2-2, don’t be surprised to see Part 5 somewhere down the road. It’s going to happen, isn’t it? Probably in that Bare Knuckle fed. They should’ve both retired already but, sick as I might sound, I actually wouldn’t be opposed to Wanderlei vs Rampage 5 as both their swansong. A double retirement. It’d be oddly fitting for them to go out in one last fat old man brawl against each other. I don’t even think they hate each other anymore. You can tell there’s an underlying mutual respect there these days. And rightfully so after knocking lumps out of each other over the best part of the last 2 decades.
But it’s 2-2. They might as well settle it.