DALLAS -- Like many in mixed martial arts, UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis was hit hard by the news of Anderson Silva's multiple failed drug tests. Silva popped positive for a variety of banned substances both before and after his UFC 183 comeback victory over Nick Diaz, including two failed tests for the anabolic steroid Drostanolone.
Pettis, 28, hadn't yet made his debut as a professional fighter when Silva brutalized Rich Franklin and began his historic run as UFC middleweight champion, and considering his flashy style, it should come as no surprise that Pettis idolized the Brazilian as he carved his own path to lightweight greatness. So when Pettis hears Silva claim to have had no knowledge of the banned substances that were found inside his system, he takes Silva at his word.
"I just can't see him consenting to cheating," Pettis said on Wednesday. "I don't think that's something he would do. I mean, when you're at that high of a level, people want to see you back, there's money to be made if he fights again, so somebody had to be in his ear or somebody had to be giving him stuff that he didn't know what it was. I hope he had no idea what it was."
Pettis echoed that sentiment to Brazilian outlet LanceNet, stating his belief that, "people in [Silva's] camp, his doctors ... I think they probably didn't tell him the truth about what he was taking and that happened. It happens in every sport."
Silva is scheduled to plead his case to the Nevada Athletic Commission at a hearing later this month, where reports indicate that Silva intends to admit to using the banned substances to "aid in his recovery" from the grisly broken leg he suffered at the hands of Chris Weidman in late-2013.
Pettis, like the rest of the MMA world, is taking a wait and see approach as Silva's team prepares his defense. But in the meantime, Pettis is bothered by the rush to judgment he's seen from many observers who diminish Silva's entire record-breaking run as UFC middleweight champion as tainted, despite Silva never once failing a drug test throughout his 16-fight win streak from 2006 to 2012.
"I mean, that's a guy, you can't take away what he's done for the sport for one mistake that maybe he didn't even make," Pettis said.
"The casual fans (are doing that), you know? Like, ‘oh, he's been cheating his whole career.' They have no idea, watching him in the UFC when it was just his first fight, they don't know what it takes to get where he's at. So people are so quick and easy to judge, and nobody knows what's going on."