http://ufcjunkie.com/ Performify back with some big news from the world of PRIDE Fighting Championships. PRIDE’s Wanderlei Silva declared that he will take off the rest of 2007 to focus on training. In an in-depth interview posted today in the Gazeta do Povo, a newspaper from Silva’s hometown of Curitiba, Brazil, the former PRIDE 205-pound champion expressed that he would not return to the PRIDE ring — or the UFC Octagon — until sometime in 2008. From the interview:O aguardado retorno do lutador paranaense Wanderlei Silva aos ringues do Pride (ou ao octagon do Ultimate Fighting Championship) pode não acontecer neste ano. Pela primeira vez no ano, Wandeco – como é chamado pelos amigos – admitiu que o seu retorno pode acontecer apenas em 2008. Loosely translated from Portuguese:The eagerly anticipated return of Southern Brazilian fighter Wanderlei Silva to the ring of Pride (or to the Octagon of the Ultimate Fighting Championship) will not happen in this year. For the first time in the year, Wandeco — as he is known to his friends — admitted that his return will wait until 2008. Among the some reasons raised for the Chute Boxe Academy fighter’s sabbatical was his contractual situation and the need for a period of rest and improvement. Silva also said he is not directly under contract with either the PRIDE organization or the UFC. However, he said he had spoken to UFC president Dana White since the acquisition but the two had not discussed a contract. Silva was quoted as saying (translated) “I am training without a specific fight for the first time in my life, therefore I am training at a lower intensity, and I am using this time to my advantage to relax and to improve some things in my fighting style”. Silva did go on to say that despite the announcement that he wouldn’t fight for the remainder of 2007, he would not rule out competing in a “SuperBowl of MMA” event between the UFC and PRIDE if one were to be announced later in the year. However, with the lack of progress on the PRIDE acquisition and the way the UFC is scheduling UFC events even further into the future than ever before, it’s unlikely we see such a “SuperBowl” event until 2008 anyway. Silva — known by the fearsome nickname “The Axe Murderer” — is widely considered one of the most dominant fighters in the world at 205-pounds. While he’s best known for his reign of terror in the PRIDE organization, Silva actually fought three times in the UFC. His first trip to the Octagon resulted in a dramatic first-round knockout loss to Vitor Belfort — when he was still young, dominant Vitor — at UFC Ultimate Brazil (known as UFC 17.5) in September 1998. Silva then returned to the Octagon to defeat Tony Petarra at UFC 20. Then, in late 1999, Silva made the jump to the fledgling PRIDE organization for PRIDE 7 and 8 and the opening round of the PRIDE 2000 Grand Prix and won all three fights in what would be the start of a dominant string of victories in the PRIDE organization. The following year in 2000, Silva was selected along with Tito Ortiz as the top competitors to fight for the UFC light heavyweight belt, which had just been vacated by Frank Shamrock. (Prior to this point, the 205-pound title was actually called the middleweight title, as it still is in PRIDE). At the time of this fight, the division and the belt were renamed to the current “light heavyweight” division and title. After a five-round war at UFC 25 (Ultimate Japan 3), Silva lost a unanimous decision to Ortiz. Ortiz became the first official UFC light heavyweight champion while Silva then returned to PRIDE, where he would take over the 205-pound title and continue what would eventually become a 20-fight streak in the organization without a loss. In this time period, Silva racked up 18 wins, one draw (against Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic) and one “no contest” in which he accidentally kicked Gilbert Yvel in the groin at the start of the fight. Silva reigned as PRIDE’s middleweight champion (again, that’s actually 205 pounds, equivalent to the light heavyweight division in the UFC) from 2001-07. Along the way, Silva racked up several notable wins, including two very dramatic knockout victories over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. We all have seen how hugely traumatic knockouts can have a major effect on a fighter, sometimes derailing a career entirely. In his last two fights, Silva suffered very vicious knockouts, which are probably playing a notable factor in this decision to take some time away from fighting. In the finals of last year’s PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix, a PRIDE open-weight tournament in which fighters of any weight class can compete, Silva suffered a traumatic first-round knockout courtesy a deadly “Cro Cop” left head kick. In his subsequent fight, Silva suffered another setback, losing his 205-pound title belt to PRIDE 185-pound champion Dan Henderson when Henderson knocked out him out with a tremendous left hook at PRIDE’s second event in the United States, PRIDE 33. It was reported after the fight that Silva was suffering from strep throat; however, the Brazilian has refused to point to that as a factor, acknowledging that Henderson was simply the better fighter that night. Personally, I feel taking the time off is a great move for Silva. Some time to rest, recover, and more importantly, focus on training with that vaunted Chute Boxe academy may be just what “Wandy” needs. Silva can rebound from here and can still be a dominant force at 205-pounds in 2008 and beyond.