At one point the former Pride superstar Wanderlei Silva won sixteen consecutive fights in terrifying fashion.
Fighting frequently and against all-comers, including super heavyweights and heavyweights, the natural 185 pounder began to lose. At first they were close decisions, then they became bad knockouts.
Since Wanderlei's streak ended, he's lost more than he's won, often by knockout. Wanderlei has gone from being perhaps the most dominant champion in MMA history, amassing those sixteen straight wins as a contender and champ, to losing nine out of the sixteen fights that have followed that reign.
Wanderlei has been struggling to win for several years now. Before his last fight he spoke to Yahoo! Sports and said he wanted to start up charities in Brazil to help underprivileged youth once he was done fighting.
He wasn't ready to say that he was ready to retire yet, and has yet to make an announcement about his future since losing to Franklin. But he'd be wise to follow the leads of two other fan favorites that also fought last weekend and announced that they'd likely be retiring - Spencer Fisher and Fedor Emelianenko.
Wand fans didn't have to wait long for an encouraging word regarding Silva's options from Dana White. White went on television and said that, fighting or not, Wanderlei had a future with the UFC.
With MMA and the UFC surging in popularity in Brazil (20 million people watched UFC 147, for example) and Wanderlei being one of the most fan-friendly personalities in MMA, he's a perfect candidate for an ambassador type job for the UFC.
Some athletes have more options than others. If the business of MMA continues to grow, hopefully more fighters that need to will have the opportunity to retire. Those that may already have that option need the people that love them to tell them hard truths and encourage them towards the best path for their health.
Usually "loved ones," is a term meant to only mean family and friends. In the case of Wanderlei Silva, the term might be a bit more expansive.
In one of his video blogs, Wanderlei told of how as a boy he was overweight, poor and without many friends. He then went on to talk about how happy he was to now have so many fans because when they came up to him to shake his hand, pose for photos with, hug him, that they were all his friends.
The once lonely and pudgy boy feels that he has earned millions of friends because he fights, because of the way he fights. He seems to fight as much for the appreciation of his fans across the world as he does for money, honor or victory.
Because he clearly loves them, it is time for true fans of "The Axe Murderer" to tell their hero that it is ok for him to hang up his battle axe. He's already more than earned their love.