After serving a one-year suspension because of a failed drug test that was later traced back to tainted supplements, Anderson Silva remains in favor of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s presence in the UFC.
The former middleweight champion, however, believes USADA should be more flexible and that the UFC should rethink its stance toward testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which was banned in 2014 after years shrouded in controversy.
In a lengthy interview with Youtube channel Rap 77 (which has a CC option with a translation in English), the 43-year-old Silva cited former foe and fellow Brazilian legend Vitor Belfort, as well as fellow ex-UFC-champ Dan Henderson, as examples to make his case.
“There are some athletes who need to make use of the hormonal replacement,” Silva said. “I think, if USADA regulated that, we’d have the sport at a high level, with athletes who have stopped fighting. Vitor, for example. Even me, though I never had the replacement. But some athletes who really need it, who are older. Dan Henderson, many other athletes who have stopped because of this.”
Although the interview was published on Tuesday, the date when it was conducted is never clearly stated. The interviewer, however, referenced the tragic Thousand Oaks shooting that occurred earlier that week, which places it somewhere early in November before Silva’s upcoming UFC 234 vs. Israel Adesanya was announced.
When Silva (34-8 MMA, 17-4 UFC) meets Adesanya (15-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) on Feb. 9 at Rod Laver Arena, two years will have gone by since his last fight. Half of that time was spent under suspension after USADA traced a positive drug test to a compounding pharmacy known for producing tainted supplements.
Despite his own problem with USADA, Silva said he viewed the authority’s partnership with the UFC as a positive. But he does believe that MMA’s specific nature should come with adaptations.
“USADA’s entrance in the UFC to control the doping situation, the way I see it, was good,” Silva said. “But, in a certain way, it ends up being a disturbance. Because MMA isn’t a regular sport like all the others. It demands from the athlete fighting training, physical training. There are other countless technical valencies that they have to maintain(like) injuries, etc.
“I’m in favor of doping control, for sure. I think no athlete should or can be, on fight day, taking advantage of some situation. But I think they need to review this. Because there are many injuries, many athletes getting hurt, many fights getting cancelled due to athletes getting injured, etc.
“… For instance, you take a Tylenol, you can get caught in the doping. You take aspirin, you can get caught in the doping. There are many things, many medicines that the athlete uses, that they have to always be policing themselves. … I’m not against USADA; I’m totally in favor, but I think there should be a certain (flexibility) when it comes to what is allowed and what isn’t.”
The meeting between Silva and Adesanya is being generally regarded as clash of generations, with a 43-year-old “GOAT” contender going up against an unbeaten 29-year-old force. But while it’s fair to say that Adesanya is the one with the most to gain by facing a legend, it’s not like there isn’t anything in it for Silva – namely, a title shot.
Given his opponent had yet to be determined at the time of the interview, Silva didn’t reference Adesanya specifically. But interestingly enough, asked about his interest in a rematch with Nick Diaz, Silva addressed what he perceives as a UFC tendency to use legends to promote younger talent.
“I think the fight with Nick Diaz would be a very cool fight, very interesting,” Silva said. “Because our last fight, both of us ended up getting caught in the doping, and it was a no-contest. So, actually, the fight didn’t exist. But I think Nick is a guy who has a name, a guy who has a history in this sport. And what we can’t accept is going into the UFC’s game of wanting to use the legends that they have to promote the young guys.
“I’ve talked about this a lot with Nick and with other athletes, as well. We don’t have an issue with fighting any of these kids. We don’t have an issue. We just want to be respected for everything we have built in this sport. Never, in my early trajectory, I never called out anyone. I always let things happen naturally. And I think it can’t be different.
“The UFC has this thing of wanting to promote new talents that don’t have the charisma with the older athletes who have the charisma and who knew how to get the machine working when we were in there. And that’s something that today’s kids can’t do. They go up there, they fight, do good fights. But, once they open their mouths, they only say crap. And they can’t get charisma with the audience. It’s no use being a good fighter and not being charismatic.”