On Thursday, former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva was suspended and fined by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) for drug test failures related to testing from his January fight with Nick Diaz at UFC 183. The details of his punishment are available here, but what matters is how truly unusual, comical and downright embarrassing the entire ordeal was for Silva as well as others.
Here are five things we learned from today's NAC hearing with Silva.
1. This was an absurd, hilarious moment in combat sports.
This was worth the cost of an entire year of Fight Pass alone. For the sad souls who had the misfortune of not catching it live, it goes like this. The commission uses a speakerphone to interview witnesses or sports officials who need to testify in some capacity, and let the media call in to hear them speak. The speakerphone can be heard from the commissioner's microphone in the room. It's difficult to mute everyone when interviewing someone on the phone, so someone (or many) figured out how to call in and play music while the hearing was being conducted. The choices ranged from Shaggy's 'It Wasn't Me' or 2 Live Crew's 'Me So Horny' to Salt N' Pepa's 'Let's Talk About Sex'. There were others, but you get the idea. All of it was timed perfectly and served as quite a bit more than comic relief, but commentary on the event.
The NAC fashions itself as the Adults In The Room, deeply-concerned chin strokers who parade their patriarchal sense of knowing what's best for everyone in the most overly serious, moralizing of ways. Their job is important, but their sense of entitlement is outrageous. If their proceedings call out for anything, it's pranksters who aren't required to buy into their brand of enforcement, preferring to liven up the atmosphere instead. These heroic phone DJs seemed to have an uncanny sense for picking sexualized, recognizable songs that thematically matched the proceedings, all of it serving as the perfect antidote to furrowed brows and finger waging from the commission.
2. It's better to just admit guilt, maybe even if you're not guilty.
Silva did admit guilt when it came to taking anti-anxiety medication, but essentially wanted either leniency or clemency when it came to being caught taking a sexual performance enhancement product his Brazilian friend procured in Thailand. I am not making this up. Either because he didn't know what he was taking or didn't realize it'd be problematic in some capacity or whatever the case, Silva and his team tried to argue there were extenuating circumstances. That they did it so clumsily (more on this in a minute) didn't help their cause, but neither was the attempt at pushback at all.
If the NAC values anything, it's genuflection before their might. Two boxers on the docket at Thursday's hearing prior to Silva essentially accepted blame and walked off with sentences as light as seven months. Silva, by contrast, tried to argue there was basically more to the story or that the state of Nevada didn't always follow proper procedure. None of that worked. It possibly made things even worse and in the process, apparent details of Silva's sexual life were laid bare for the world to see. It is extremely difficult to imagine how confession of wrongdoing, even in the case where you haven't committed it but can't prove otherwise, isn't the better option to take.
3. Anderson Silva's attempt at defending himself was remarkably bad.
When the NAC is running circles around your defense, underscoring inconsistencies, highlighting your naïveté and more, you know you've made more than a few regrettable choices. Stated plainly, Silva's defense was shockingly bad. Witnesses were unprepared, documents to substantiate claims were missing, translation from two sources was all over the place and in direct contrast to one another and worse. In the words of Peggy Noonan, it was a rolling calamity.
If you're going to reject and challenge the NAC's accusation, the least you can do is provide as much documentation as is humanly possible to substantiate claims. Or maybe provide a witness who has credentials the commission recognizes. Or have clear timelines memorized about usage of supplements or drugs in question. Or really, do anything that's helpful, which is precisely the opposite of what Silva's team did on Thursday. It's instructive to think of Silva as a first-time offender because it looked like his team were entirely unfamiliar with the terrain of Nevada commission hearings, beaten down by the elements and by the time a decision was rendered, utterly willing to accept any judgment so long as they could put a stop to the beating.
4. In the end, the punishment was fairly light.
Silva is a bit lucky he's working under the pre-Draconian NAC rules about drug usage, not the newly-adopted rules that fly in the face of basic sanity. In the end, he is suspended from competition for one, retroactive to January 31. He's been fined his win bonus of $200,000 as well as 30 percent of his $600,000 base pay. In the end, $380,000. That's no small sum, but won't break the bank either.
This, though, just compounds the previous argument about accepting blame and moving on. Silva's team asked for a number of continuances or delays. Had he just found a way to fall in line with the commission's whip cracking, he could've been ready to compete in a matter of months and likely would've faced a similar or even smaller fine.
I have no idea why the commission expects tearful remorse since such a thing can so easily be faked, but damn if it isn't an effective tool to lessen punishments.
5. Nick Diaz is in big trouble.
The UFC welterweight and middleweight had better expect very bad things to happen to him. For starters, this is his third-time running afoul of the same Nevada commission. Silva's punishment isn't terrible, but part of that reason is because he is a first-time offender in the state. Second, Diaz has previously tried to challenge commission authority. That may not necessarily play a role as he saunters up to the table to talk about his marijuana usage, especially if he's compliant this time around. But if his previous run-ins and Thursday prove anything, if you don't have the commission dead to rights - and even if you do, really - any attempt at undercutting their jurisdiction or authority is not taken favorably. Last, if Diaz thinks marijuana will soften the blow the NAC will offer him, he's under a profound delusion. In part because of his prior offenses and in part because their view of marijuana runs in complete contravention to facts of medical science, they'll treat his use of it just as badly if not worse than Silva's magic aphrodisiac from Thailand.