The GOAT is not happy.
And for once, finally, he outright does not care who knows it.
This week Silva took to The MMA Hour to tell host Ariel Helwani all about how he’s had entirely enough of his “f--king bulls--t job.” (Video contains NSFW language.)
If you didn’t think he was a legend before, you’d have to feel he is now.
Owner of a 16-fight win streak and 10-fight title defense streak that ran from 2006 to 2013, Silva has done more in MMA than anyone. At the highest levels with the lights shining brightest, he delivered.
And delivered again.
And with that continued success—most of it performed in an exciting, explosive manner we never saw before and probably won’t see in the future—there was an accrual of respect for him. With every great performance and every great win, the reverie became more profound and undeniable.
People either loved Silva, feared him, treasured him or were in awe of him.
Yet in response, the Brazilian was somewhat prickly.
He rarely spoke English, didn’t do much media outside of Brazil and would often react childishly when opponents were suggested or fights were booked for him. It got to the point where Dana White basically threw up his hands and submitted to Silva’s will, claiming the petulance was part of dealing with such a great artist.
The explosion this week, though, this was something different. It wasn’t prickliness or posturing. This was full-blown, unadulterated rage.
Silva railed against the UFC for its idiotic matchmaking, continued capacity to disappoint his desires to fight in Brazil and general prioritization of money and entertainment over martial arts and meritocracy.
Frankly, it’s the type of thing that many of been complaining about for months, and it’s all warranted. The UFC has proved to be a constant source of critical fodder since WME-IMG took ownership last summer, largely for the reasons Silva illuminated.
And it’s about time he did some illuminating.
In more traditional sporting environments it becomes the responsibility of veteran athletes to police their dressing rooms, their leagues and their sports. It’s done that way because it works.
Tom Brady’s voice holds more weight than Marcus Mariota’s.
Lebron James has more latitude to speak up than Karl-Anthony Towns.
People will listen to Sidney Crosby before they’ll listen to Mitch Marner.
In UFC circles, Silva is esteemed on the level of the greats listed. Like them, he’s a proven winner who has racked up championships and for a decade has made the unimaginable mundane on a per-fight basis.
He matters like no one else matters. His opinions are relevant like no other opinions are relevant. He’s unique to his vocation, and he’s earned the right to be treated as such.
Don’t mistake the outburst for pure, unfiltered altruism, mind you. As with all actions in MMA, there is a selfishness at play in his speaking out. He’s trying to get an interim title fight against Yoel Romero, which he may or may not deserve, and he’s trying to get it in his own backyard.
There’s lots of money and prestige that comes along with those 12 pounds of gold, even if it’s a belt made up on a whim to placate the greatest athlete the sport has known.
Even in that context, though, Silva has a greater right to make such demands than anyone else on the roster because he’s done more than anyone else in the cage.
At this point, it doesn’t even matter if he gets what he wants, though many fans surely hope he does. It’s about time he came out and made his opinions clearly known.
That’s worth as much as anything.