“Bigfoot” said he was the last one to find out he was no longer fighting in Miami.
MMA Fighting reached out to Silva after news broke that Kharitonov was stepping in as a replacement. On his way to the gym, the Brazilian fighter was surprised by the news. Eagle FC CEO Rizvan Magomedov stated in a press release that they “we were certainly disappointed to lose ‘Bigfoot’ in our main event, [but] we are incredibly excited to welcome Sergei Kharitonov to our organization.”
Silva said he was first approached with the offer three weeks ago by Ronny Markes, President of Dominance MMA Brazil, and he initially turned it down since he had trained with Spong in the past. He changed his mind after hearing that Spong had agreed to it and said he signed a contract this past week.
Bigfoot had bought plane tickets to finish his camp in Germany in January planning to train with longtime friend Gleison Tibau in Europe before he found out he was no longer competing.
“I have no idea what happened,” Silva told MMA Fighting. “No one from the promotion told me anything as to why I’m out. They simply changed it, put Kharitonov in, and told me nothing.”
Silva said he heard from people in the MMA industry that the Florida State Athletic Commission “wouldn’t let me fight in the United States, but I’m not suspended by any athletic commission in the United States.” The FSAC did not respond to a request for comment.
“For a commission to ban an athlete from fighting, he must have problems in his exams, like brain, blood or eye, and those tests weren’t done yet because we’re still far away from the fight,” Silva said. “A commission can’t stop an athlete from working when he doesn’t have any health problem. I’m ready, I’m training day after day, and saying I pulled out from the fight is a lie. I still don’t know 100 percent why they pulled me from the fight.
“This promotion is from Russia, it’s Khabib [Nurmagomedov’s] company, and Kharitonov is from [Russia], and they still haven’t told me why the change. I found out about it through the media and I still have no explanation as to why I was replaced.”
Silva hasn’t fought in MMA stateside since May 2013, when he challenged Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight title. He met fellow UFC veteran Gabriel Gonzaga in a bare-knuckle boxing match in Florida in October 2019, losing by second-round knockout. Bigfoot is winless in 12 of his past 13 bouts in MMA, boxing and bare-knuckle boxing fights since 2013; in 10 of those matches, he suffered a knockout loss.
UPDATE: Eagle FC officials issued a statement to MMA Fighting on Thursday night saying Silva was “not medically fit” to compete, which is why he was pulled from the card and replaced by Kharitonov.