Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva announced his retirement on Friday in a youtube video. After a retrospective look at his career, the former Pride middleweight champion expressed a serious discontent with the UFC’s treatment of its athletes. Silva makes a point of communicating just how hard it is to be a professional athlete in combat sports in training, recovery, and eventually in dealing with the UFC’s promotion.
He cites his own struggles with the UFC in the pressure they put on him to fight in May of this year. When he told the UFC that he was unable to be ready to fight by that date, he was offered the incentive of more money and pressured to fight in a time he did not feel he would be able to prepare for. Vanderlei criticized this action of the UFC as a way they treat their athletes, using Renan Barão as a specific example:
“Did you stop to think that Barao had to fight 3 times in 6 months? To fight 3 times in 6 months for any fighter is cutting weight and much, much more than that. Barao had no time to rest between fights, because those 6 months he could not stop training. So it was a daily battle for him. The first consequence of his body not handling it, was the loss of his belt. He lost the belt and then had to fight the rematch right away. After that, his body could not handle it and he passed out wile cutting weight. What did the promoters do? they bashed him and mocked him. They are all proud to keep saying that Barao’s going home without a dime. Is that the way to treat an athlete? Does anyone think about what he endured to try to step in there?”
Wanderlei credits the mistreatment of athletes by the UFC as the reason he lost his desire to fight. However, the opening text of the video reads “This is not a goodbye,” and it appears that Wanderlei is determined to stand on the side of athletes:
“Now, I will keep my eyes on you, and I will speak the truth!”