It’s the UFC’s move now.
Anderson Silva gave the promotion an ultimatum on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. The legendary former champion told Ariel Helwani that he wants to fight Yoel Romero for the interim middleweight title at UFC 212 in Rio or he’ll retire from fighting.
“The guys no give this fight for me for the interim belt, I’m done,” Silva said. “I’ll go be with my family. I’m done.”
Silva was supposed to face Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 212 on June 3, but Gastelum failed a drug test for marijuana and was pulled from the bout last month. Silva acknowledged other options on the table for him, but he doesn’t think any of them make sense. And if Romero, the division’s top contender, is going to make the trek to Rio de Janeiro, Silva believes it should be a bout for the interim belt.
“I say, ‘OK, I go fight Yoel Romero,’” Silva said. “Because I know I respect Yoel Romero, he’s a great fighter. He’s No. 1 in the ranks. But one thing — why Yoel Romero come to Brazil for fight me for nothing?”
Romero called in to The MMA Hour while Silva was on the phone and said he was on the same page as “The Spider.” He’ll come down to UFC 212, but only against Silva for the interim title.
“I fight only with Anderson for the interim belt,” Romero said. “If not for him, I wait for my time for the belt.”
Silva, 42, is furious at the UFC for not giving him a desirable fight at UFC 212 after Gastelum pulled out. He said he has spent money on a training camp in Rio for that date and doesn’t want to upset his fans who have already purchased tickets to see him.
“I stayed here for a long time for training,” Silva said. “This is not my fault for Gastelum to go out of the fight. This is not my problem. My problem is training hard for fight in Brazil for my fans. What happens to my fans now? What happens to the people who paid to see my fight in Brazil. This is the second time this happened. I’m tired of this.”
Silva (34-8, 1 NC) is coming off a unanimous decision win over Derek Brunson at UFC 208 in February. It was the all-time great’s first official victory since 2012. However, Silva had a very close, competitive fight with Michael Bisping, the current UFC middleweight champion, last year. And Silva is the greatest UFC titleholder of all time, compiling 10 straight title defenses (now tied with Demetrious Johnson for the record) an 16 consecutive victories from 2006 to 2013.
“The Spider” believes his space among the immortals in the sport owes him a least a modicum of backing from the UFC. He doesn’t believe he’s getting that right now.
“This is perfect bullshit,” Silva said. “I’m tired. I’m so tired. I’m respectful long time. Everything, I never talk about bad situations in UFC. … I think I’m done. I fight for long time in my life. And I’m tired, bro. I’m so upset. I have my legacy, I have my story. It’s very frustrating, because this is the second time I’m not fighting in my country.”
Silva was referring to pulling out of a fight with Uriah Hall last year at UFC 198 due to gallbladder surgery. The Brazilian striker was able to return in July 2016 to save a UFC 200 fight with Daniel Cormier when Jon Jones pulled out on just two days notice.
Silva certainly does not believe he’s been paid back for that. And his patience seems to be running thin with the UFC and MMA. If he doesn’t get Romero for the interim belt next month, one of the greatest ever says he’ll walk away.
“I’m far too old and I’m done, bro,” Silva said. “I’m sorry. I know I need to respect my fans — I respect my fans. I’m sorry guys. I love the sport. I love fighting. Fighting is my life. But it’s too much bullshit.”