The infamous TUF Brazil brawl between Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen has finally been released to the public. To put it lightly, it couldn’t have been any worse for Silva. Silva is one of the most beloved fighters in the sport of MMA, but his actions towards Sonnen have rightfully made a large portion of the MMA fan base think of him in a lesser light.
The brawl took place before two of the show’s competitors weighed in for their quarterfinal bout. The scene opened with Silva staring at Sonnen, punching his hand, and telling Sonnen, “Soon.” Sonnen responded by asking, “How do you feel saying crazy things like that when I’ve been challenging you for years?” Things quickly escalated, resulting in Silva trying to make Sonnen flinch by punching his hand right in front of Sonnen’s face. Sonnen responded by asking Silva to “please stop,” but had to push Silva away after he kept walking forward. Silva then threw a punch that didn’t land and was quickly taken down. All hell broke loose as Silva’s assistant coach Andre Dida whacked Sonnen a few times in the back of the head and Sonnen’s jersey was ripped from his back. After the brawl, the cameras cut to Silva and Dida in their locker room bragging about the fight.
There are two contributing factors that make Silva’s actions even worse than they already are. First, Silva is upset with Sonnen over his comments he made about Silva himself and Brazil. Silva needs to realize that Sonnen’s quips are nothing more than comical nonsense to hype a fight. I mean really, he’s upset with the same guy who made a joke about Rogerio Nogueira feeding a carrot to a bus. Instead, Silva should learn from the best salesman in combat sports and make himself a quick buck before his career is over.
Second, this isn’t the first moment that Silva has shown extreme aggression towards Sonnen. Silva once tried to incite a fight with Sonnen at a fitness expo in 2013.
Does Silva really think it’s necessary to get in a street fight with another professional fighter? I understand that Silva has a reputation as a lethal killer inside the cage, but come on, there’s no need to assault a guy who is signing autographs for his fans. If Silva wants to be considered one of the sport’s greats, he needs to act like a champion outside of the cage; not like a punk kid.
Some of MMA’s most beloved legends like Fedor Emelianenko, Dan Henderson, and Mirko Cro-Cop are not only loved for their skills inside the cage/ring, but for their attitudes outside of competition. None of the aforementioned fighters have ever been caught portraying thuggish behavior like Silva has exhibited during his feud with Sonnen. MMA fans appreciate that and appreciate the sportsmanship that usually runs rampant throughout the sport. As of now, it’s virtually impossible for Silva to put himself with the likes of an Emelianenko.
On the flip side of things, I’m sure that Silva’s antics have been great for the UFC. The only promo I’ve ever seen for this season of TUF Brazil revolved around the on set fight. In all honesty it was a genius move by the UFC. The desire to see the brawl between Silva and Sonnen play out definitely gained the UFC a significant amount of Fight Pass subscribers.
Still, the point remains that one of MMA’s brightest stars has fallen. The damage to not only Silva’s reputation and image, but the sport’s, is completely unfix-able. MMA needs great and respectful fighters at this critical point in its young life. Silva’s actions will only give MMA’s detractors more ammo in their efforts to ban MMA.
Silva was once the fighter that the sport needed, a brutal finisher who loved to fight. But, those days are long gone. The sport needs a fighter who can be the face of the franchise and paint the sport in a positive light, not a fighter who will initiate street fights for little reason.
Wanderlei Silva needs to take a step back, examine his actions, and take his good buddy Chael Sonnen’s advice: “Please stop.”
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