UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva was interviewed recently by Brazilian network SporTV. The network asked Silva what he thought of UFC president Dana White’s stance on teammates and friends needing to fight. Silva made it clear that he disagreed with his Boss’s stance, believing it is just something that White cannot understand as a non-fighter.
Silva’s stance is hardly unheard of in MMA with many fighters refusing to fight friends and teammates. UFC lightweight Nate Diaz echoed a similar sentiment by saying recently he would not want to fight former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar due to their Gracie connections. Jon Fitch and Josh Koschek have taken the same stance, often to the detriment of their own careers.
Silva’s translated statement on fighting friends:
It’s funny to say that, right? If that was the case, I would like to ask him if he’d like to split the UFC with Lorenzo, each would have their own show fighting for audience and sponsorship and everything else that involves their business. They’re friends, partners… What I think is that friends shouldn’t fight. Dana doesn’t fight. He sells well the fight, he’s a good promoter, but he isn’t a fighter. I have nothing against Dana, I admire him, but he doesn’t know what this is, and he can’t say that two friends should fight. We spend more time together than with our own families. We share the pains, the frustrations, and just because he wants to sell a fight that he thinks it would be cool and that the public would like to see two companions fighting. He wants to match a fight with two friends? That’s impossible, it only happens with people who aren’t real friends. We have a philosophy in our team that, regardless of two being from the same weight class and the same objective of being UFC Champions, we know that this won’t happen. MMA is not a collective sport. It’s not normal for me to fight a guy that I live with everyday. It’s natural to him, because he doesn’t fight and hasn’t even got pinched once.”
Dana White’s reaction:
“This isn’t baseball or football. They aren’t a team. They train together, go out together, but they aren’t a team that plays together. I’d like for Anderson to tell me if I’m wrong: he has the belt, the fame, the money, and it is because of that, that there are many guys who’d like to be Anderson Silva, especially those inside his gym and are friends of his. Many friends of his would love to have that belt and they should fight for it. If they have to fight, it doesn’t mean that they don’t like each other, that they can’t be friends. It’s business, it’s what they do for a living.
If this was something I and Lorenzo would have to fight, we would. If Lorenzo has the title and I’d have to fight him, it’s what would happen. It’s not personal, it’s only to see who’s best. Imagine two famous teams in Brazil, such as Flamengo and Corinthians. Imagine if they would refuse to play against each other because they’re friends, because they like each other. ‘We don’t want to play you, we’d hurt your feelings.’ Anderson, come on…
Vitor [Belfort] used to train with him. Did you see what he did to his friend? I guarantee you that the guys that are his friends want to be like him. Your friends want your belt, and they won’t pay your bills when you’re done fighting, Anderson.”
While it should be noted that Belfort and Silva had a falling out prior to Belfort’s accepting of his title shot at UFC 126, White’s reaction has been his stance since day one on the issue.