Wanderlei Silva didn’t attend a planned press conference last week in Los Angeles. At the time, Bellator officials said he didn’t make the trip to promote Bellator NYC because he was under the weather.
But on Tuesday during a media conference call, Silva confessed the real reason why he didn’t get on a plane to the United States. The Brazilian star said it would be dangerous for him to be in the same room as Chael Sonnen before they step in the cage in the main event of the big pay-per-view card June 24 in New York.
“The truth is I no go to the press conference, because I don’t want to do what Cyborg do to that girl that talked sh*t about her,” Silva said. “When I [see] Chael, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I’m a professional, but this guy crossed the line with me and played with the wrong guy.”
Silva was, of course, referencing an incident in which Cris Cyborg punched fellow UFC fighter Angela Magana last month during the UFC Athlete Retreat. Magana had been running down Cyborg on social media for some time. Cyborg is being cited for misdemeanor battery in Las Vegas.
Silva and Sonnen have actually come to blows before, and not in the cage. The two got into a brawl while filming The Ultimate Fighter Brazil as coaches in 2014. That was supposed to lead into a fight at UFC 175, but both ended up getting doping sanctions in Nevada. Now, they are each signed with Bellator and ready to commence the grudge match.
“I’ve been wanting to fight Wanderlei since he was in PRIDE,” Sonnen said. “I’ve been wanting to fight Wanderlei while I was still fighting down at the dog park in front of my mom and dad and aunt and uncle and nobody else was there. And I’m watching this guy on TV. I’ve just always wanted to fight Wanderlei Silva. I’ve been poking my finger in his chest before anybody else. Wanderlei went through a very long period of his career where he was the scariest guy out there and nobody ever called out Wanderlei. I was calling him out back then. I was calling him out back when it was unfashionable.
“To finally get the match, man, it’s the only match that I want. I love to participate in this sport, I’ll go out and compete with anybody, but they’re not always ones you want to. Sometimes they’re just the match that you have in front of you. I want to fight Wanderlei.”
Silva didn’t show to a press conference at Madison Square Garden earlier this year to promote the blockbuster fight. On that day, Sonnen teared into Silva, who was on a television screen via satellite, and said his shoe would be taking Silva’s place on the dais. This time around, Bellator cancelled the press conference altogether.
Sonnen, 40, said he was already in the car on the way to the airport and had to make a u-turn when he found out the news. “The Bad Guy” said he was a bit concerned that Silva was missing another promotional event.
“A little bit,” Sonnen said. “He’s 0-for-2. There’s only one trip left, which is the fight. I trust that he’ll make it, but I can’t deny that he didn’t come.
“I think there’s some obligation when you’re on top of the bill. It is a long trip for a press conference to have to sit there and be treated like a fool. I understood that part of it, too.”
Silva, 40, said he was feeling a bit ill last week, but the primary reason he didn’t come was because he wanted to avoid another incident with Sonnen. “The Axe Murderer” said he wasn’t even sure if he’d want to do any press events with Sonnen when the two arrive in New York next week.
“For me when I saw Chael in the same room it’s better we have security, because something is gonna happen,” Silva said. … “I’m professional. I hope I saw him just inside the cage.”
Silva has been vocal and angry about some of the things Sonnen has said about him over the years. It extends to some things Sonnen has said about Brazil. This is a rivalry that has been burgeoning for some time.
“He knows what he’s doing over here,” Silva said. “He knows what he deserves. He knows I’m right and he’s wrong. He did a lot of bad things for me here and now it’s time to pay back.”
Sonnen shot back that it was ridiculous that Silva is talking about right and wrong when the two men are about to fight each other in a cage.
“Be right, I’ll be wrong,” Sonnen said. “What’s the goddam difference? Let’s just fight on June 24. How about that?
“Wanderlei Silva, you attacked me. That happened. If you attack me, I’m gonna do some very bad things to you within the rules. If you attack me in front of my wife, there are no rules.”
Sonnen then clicked off the media call.