The former PRIDE champion and UFC star, banned from the sport by the Nevada Athletic Commission after running away from an out-of-competition drug test in 2014, spoke with MMAFighting.com about a long list of topics.
In an exclusive interview, "The Axe Murderer" discussed the current status of his lawsuit against the NAC, Anderson Silva’s drug test failure, the lawsuit filed by UFC veterans against Zuffa, and -- among other topics -- why he considers out-of-competition drug testing to be "against the constitution."
"If I’m going to fight you today, I have to be clean today," Silva said. "There are anti-inflammatories and painkillers that are considered doping, but are not. I’m against steroids. Steroids are bad. But the fighter has a right to do anything he wants out of competition. That’s his right. You can’t get into his life and take his blood to see what he’s doing. I’m against all types of drugs and steroids, but the athlete has the right to have a private life. He has to be clean on the day of the competition. Out of competition, that’s his life."
Check out the complete interview below:
You always mentioned something big for your 50th MMA fight. Are you disappointed that you won’t be able to do it after all?
I was a little upset for not reaching my 50th fight, but that’s a protest against the current scenario of the MMA world.
Do you still feel that the UFC has taken away your desire to fight?
They did, they did. We have to change everything that’s happening with this embarrassing commission. They are f---ing everything up. They don’t know what they're doing. A guy never tested positive for anything, the (athletic commission) has no jurisdiction whatsoever over him, he hasn’t signed a bout agreement, and they ban him. On the other hand, a guy who was caught several times is cleared to fight for the title? I was always clean in my fights and they want to ban me. I don’t accept this punishment. This commission has no jurisdiction over me, but they took away my desire to fight. It’s also weird that the president of this promotion says one thing and then the commission decides to do the exact same thing. It’s like he knows exactly the result of the trial before the actual trial.
Do you think the UFC has any influence over the commission?
I heard that Fertitta was the president of this commission before. And I ask you -- who names those guys to be part of the commission? Who pays those guys? Where does the money come from? And I'll ask you further -- how can an athlete get caught (in a drug test) a month before the fight and still be allowed to fight? If an unknown fighter, who is starting his career, fails a drug test a month before the fight, he would get destroyed by the owner of this promotion like he always does in press conferences. He likes to show off. He goes there and rips the fighters. Why didn’t he do the same thing with this fighter that was caught a month before the fight?
Do you think the UFC and the commission knew that Anderson Silva failed a drug test but still let him fight?
The problem is that they let a juiced fighter compete against a clean fighter. They didn’t fight in equal conditions. On fight night, you have to be clean. You have to be clean on fight night. That didn’t happen, but he fought anyway. Why? Because it was the main event of one of the biggest pay-per-view cards of the year. This is not a sport, this is a circus. This is all set up, and we don’t accept that. The problem is not about this or that punishment, the thing is the punishment should be the same for everybody, from the preliminary card to the main event.
Why do you think the athletic commission treats you differently?
Because I’m going against the president of this promotion, and because I won’t shut up. People ask me why I haven’t spoken about it before. I haven’t because they would have cut me if I did, and they have a monopoly. There’s no other option. If there was any other option, I doubt they would treat fighters like that. We have nowhere to go. Now I’m free, now I can speak the truth. Everything I’m saying is the truth. The UFC isn’t this whole glamor everybody thinks. They don’t pay you right. Nobody will speak out about it, but I get messages from fighters that are uncomfortable with the situation but can’t speak or they will lose their jobs.
In fact, I want to know if it’s true that that Canadian journalist [Brian D'Souza] who asked Jose Aldo about his money was fired from his website and nobody talked about it. I didn’t see it anywhere. Why? Journalists should be united. Tomorrow the same thing can happen to you. Will you shut up? I’m pissed at this. Everybody should be united, from fighters to the MMA media.
You always seemed to be a good relationship with Dana White. When did it change?
I was always a soldier for the company that I work for. I worked hard for them, fought the best way possible. Almost every single one of my fights was the fight of the night and the public was always interested in watching me compete. I always did what I had to do. It all started to change with the video game deal. I was in the video game and didn’t get paid anything for it. But okay, I signed the contract. Every fighter signs this contract and they get paid nothing. I just played it at a friend’s house and I was in the game, but I didn’t receive anything for it, while they make $300 million out of it. And the promotion won’t talk about it. They will say they paid all the fighters, but they will always pay you less than what you really deserve.
I came from PRIDE and I was well paid there. I came as one of the best fighters in the world, but I’m fighting for the new athletes that can’t make enough money to have their own house and car. I’m fighting for them. I could just sit on my couch and say that’s not my problem, but I’m here to fight for them because it’s not fair the way they’re treated and how much they are paid. We had no voice, but now we do. Now I’m pissed. I’m fighting for all fighters, and I will fight until the end. I’m not scared of this promotion or this promoter. I will show the world everything that’s wrong and has to change. If he was a smart man, he would call me and ask what he needs to fix in the sport. I’m sure the promotion would make more money if they paid fighters better.
Some UFC veterans filed a lawsuit against the UFC. Did you consider joining them?
This lawsuit has to be well explained because they are representing every fighter. It’s embarrassing. We should have complained when they created the sponsor tax. "You can’t have that tax, we depend on this money." But we had no voice. And [the UFC] saw we didn’t do a thing about it, so they bring this brand and took away all fighters’ sponsors. How much is [Reebok] going to pay the athletes? Five thousand dollars per fight? And how about those four or five sponsors that pay fighters monthly? If we don’t get together, we won’t have a voice and they will continue to treat us like that. I will be this voice. I will get all the fighters together to show this promotion that we own the show.
How much money would you lose with the Reebok deal, if you were still active?
"If" doesn’t exist.
Do you have any update on your lawsuit against the Nevada Athletic Commission?
That’s one of the reasons why I’m fighting for change at this moment. The commission does its own laws. They catch a guy in a drug test and let him fight, but ban others. What the f--k? Why is the law different from fighter to fighter? I don’t owe this commission anything. I was always clean. It’s a bunch of bulls--t.
But how is the lawsuit?
I’m still working on that, but I will make Dana White release me from my contract for free. If he doesn’t do that, he will regret it. I’m getting pissed and fighters are getting united. He will spend more money with this instead of just letting me walk.
If you could go back in time, would you do anything different to avoid this situation?
I don’t regret anything I did. I heard some things that the commission did to fighters…it looks like they showed up at the champion’s house at 6:50 a.m. to test him. What the f--k is that? Is this a joke? I also heard they forced a famous fighter to undress in front of everybody in order to be tested. What is that? We are being violated. They are taking out our rights as citizens. The test has to be done on the day of the competition. You have to be at the same level of your opponent on fight day. That’s against the constitution. You can’t have this law. They are not athletes and they don’t know what we have to go through to be there and put on a show.
The UFC asked the commission to increase the out-of-competition testing. You disagree or agree with that?
If I’m going to fight you today, I have to be clean today. There are anti-inflammatories and painkillers that are considered doping, but are not. I’m against steroids. Steroids are bad. But the fighter has a right to do anything he wants out of competition. That’s his right. You can’t get into his life and take his blood to see what he’s doing. I’m against all types of drugs and steroids, but the athlete has the right to have a private life. He has to be clean on the day of the competition. Out of competition, that’s his life.
If everything goes your way and you clear the air with the UFC and the commission, would you consider fighting again for a different promotion?
Today, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t. But I don’t know about tomorrow. The thing I know is that I won’t work for those guys again. You know why I have this beef with them? When all those rumors about the test came out, [Dana White] didn’t talk to me. He didn’t call me to talk about it. You know how I found out about it? Through the media, with one of his "little shows," his interviews. I was like "I’m done -- I won’t work for him anymore." I was always loyal, but he took away my desire to fight.
What’s your next step?
I’m focused on fighting for the fighters, so they don’t have to go through everything I’m going through. I’m learning, studying about the unions, how it works. It’s sad when a MMA fighter talks to an NFL or NBA player about how much money they make. That’s embarrassing. You tell them how much you make and they laugh. Do you think that’s cool? I want the MMA fighter to make as much money as the NBA and NFL players. We are as professional as they are, we are on the TV too, but we don’t get paid like they do. That’s my focus now. I will make fighters get paid better.
Would you create your own promotion in the future?
No. Right now, I won’t, but I will help with promoting other companies that take good care of their fighters and want to do business the right way.
Last question: How do you want to be remembered? What’s your legacy in the sport?
As a fighter who fought for the fighters. A fighter who always put on a show for the fans and now wants to bring some dignity to the sport. My dream is that young fighters don’t have to go through everything I’ve been through. Do you see anyone leaving [the UFC] on a high note? Do you see anyone receiving compliments from this promoter? No. They take you down before that. It didn’t happen to me because I left on a high note, after the fight of the year and the knockout of the year. They tried to erase my image, but failed because fans are with me.
And I tell you more, the war is just beginning. MMA is going down because of them. There are no more epic classics, no more fights that the whole world wants to watch. Everything that took years for us to build is falling apart. A former champion of this promotion [Mark Coleman] is asking for money to undergo a hip surgery and this promoter won’t call him to offer help. "I know you sustained some of those injuries fighting for my promotion, so here’s some money." He didn’t do that. These guys that are fighting now, earning their show money, have to understand that this guy will talk trash about them in the future. You have to get together now that you’re all strong, or we will be oppressed in the future.