The last thing I want is for what I say here today to come off as mean-spirited.
That's not my intention at all.
But this must be said, and it must be said before it's too late. It's a demand I want to make of all fighters, especially the ones in the UFC with big follower counts on Twitter.
Next year, when April Fool's Day rolls around, would you please avoid the requisite "Hey guys, I'm fighting (fill in the blank) at (fill in the blank)" tweets and Facebook posts? Because they aren't funny. I know you think they're cute and clever, and perhaps they would be if, you know, every single other fighter on the UFC's roster didn't use the same April Fool's "joke."
Wanderlei Silva, I'm looking at you.
Yesterday, Silva tweeted that he'd be fighting Gegard Mousasi on Saturday night, replacing the apparently injured Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC on Fuel 9. UFC fans were estactic, of course, as well they should have been. Silva is quite literally the best possible replacement opponent I can think of on such short notice. If he took the fight against Mousasi, the fans attending the live event and those watching from home could all consider themselves winners.
Tweeting such a thing is one thing. It IS Twitter, after all, and it's not exactly known as a bastion of truth. Taking everything that you read there with a grain of salt (or a bottle of salt) is a pretty good guideline for managing your Twitter news expectations. And that becomes an even better guideline when it's April Fool's day, the one time of the year when lying suddenly becomes hilarious to every single person on the Internet.
So yes, Silva tweeted his "news," and he probably found it pretty hilarious. Good for him. But then he took it one step further and began privately telling journalists—some of whom have known "The Axe Murderer" for years—that yes, it was true, and that he would be fighting Mousasi. In fact, he was leaving for Sweden on Tuesday to get ready.
He was asked directly if his tweet was an April Fool's joke. No, he said. It was real. So these journalists ran with the story, as they are supposed to do; a verbal confirmation from one of the participants, while not as ideal as the double confirmation that I'm personally comfortable with, is enough for some folks to go on when, for bragging rights or some other internal ego-building logic, they're trying to play the game of getting news out in front of readers before anyone else.
And then today, Wanderlei tweets that it was, of course, all just a joke.
Hilarious. So very hilarious.
Here's the thing, and I want everyone to listen to me: April Fool's can be fun. It can be creative and inspiring and interesting. But there's a difference between an April Fool's joke and an outright lie.
April Fool's gives you a license to play pranks on your friends without having to worry about repercussions. They might retaliate in the heat of the moment, but then they realize that hey, it's April Fool's Day and everyone has a big laugh. Good times had by all.
But April Fool's doesn't give you the license to outright lie to your fans or to anyone else, for that matter. Saying that you're taking a fight against Gegard Mousasi on Saturday night, and getting your fans all worked up in the process, isn't a joke. It's a lie.
And I'm begging you, Wanderlei—and every other fighter that reads this—to please remember the difference between joking and just making stuff up.