MMA legends Wanderlei ‘The Axe Murderer’ Silva and ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Tito Ortiz have stirred up some controversy for the UFC over the past few weeks with claims that the MMA conglomerate fixes fights.
While giving support to longtime cutman Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran, who was fired by the UFC because of his comments about the organization’s Reebok deal in July, Silva wrote two separate posts about the UFC on his Facebook page:
(Translated from Portuguese by MMAjunkie)
1st post: “They fired him. That’s right. They fired ‘Stitch’ for standing against this theft being perpetrated on the athletes. So I wonder, ‘why don’t they fire me?’ I already said I do not want to, nor will I work any more for this promotion. And they won’t dismiss me. That’s what happens to those who speak the truth in this company; they’re driven out. They have no respect for anyone. I’ve made it very clear to you all that I will never again fight for this promotion, the U.F. Circus. Fixed fights – and I can prove it! I haven’t yet dropped the bomb. I haven’t said everything I know!”
2nd post: “Either you do what they tell you, or you’re fired. I won’t give up until they free the athletes. This promoter is killing our sport. There are fighters going back to work to support their families because they can’t live from the sport alone. They’re very poorly paid. We are getting organized and soon I’ll have news for my brothers in the ring. This will not stand! Some have tried to buy me, but I am not, nor have I ever been for sale. And I will fight to the end, to unmask these promoters, who are deceiving the public, cheating, and taking the dignity and the honor from our sport! This is turning a pro-wrestling show with fixed fights. We have to stop these guys because that’s the end of the line for us!”
Within those comments, Wanderlei claimed to have proof of the fixing, but since he hasn’t shown any of that so-called proof, the UFC has decided to file a defamation and business disparagement lawsuit against him.
Ortiz, on the other hand, isn’t as headstrong about the fixes but still agrees with Silva nonetheless.
While using Periscope’s social media chat to interact with fans, the subject was brought up to which he basically responded yes. In the video, Ortiz points to his third fight with former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin to support his argument:
“Wanderlei (Silva) talking about fixed fights. I dunno, I agree with him because I kick Forrest (Griffin’s) ass the third time we fought.”
Ortiz continued “I knocked him down three times, I took him down four times, I gave him an ass-whooping. For the first time in UFC history, they give ‘strikes attempted.’ They credited him for that. What the f**k is strikes attempted?”
Ortiz ended, “Wanderlei talks about fixed fights? Possibly. That was a fixed fight. I kicked his ass. Don’t listen to Joe Rogan. Don’t listen to the bullsh*t he has to say. Turn off the audio and watch that fight again. I broke his jaw, c’mon.”
Whether or not either of the claims is true, the subject of fixing should raise some concerns for UFC fans as it has plagued the organization for years and its boxing counterpart for more than half a century. Just because there isn’t any evidence to support the fighters’ claims doesn’t mean it’s entirely impossible.
Thoughts on Fixing in the UFC
First off, rigging fights is extremely risky because it can result in bans and even jail time.
Second, the common misconception that comes from people who talk about fixing in the UFC (and other combat sports) is that they will immediately point to the judges to justify their claim that said combat sport is rigged. The problem with that idea is that those judges do not work for the UFC. Instead, an athletic commission – a completely separate entity – employs them. The athletic commission within the state that the fighters choose to fight assigns judges to the events.
For example, the Nevada Athletic Commission (AKA the Nevada State Athletic Commission or NSAC) would assign judges to professional fights taking place at the MGM Grand, a popular venue in Las Vegas, Nevada. Essentially, if a person is going to claim that an organization is rigging fights, he/she should point the finger at the state’s commission rather than the UFC because it doesn’t have control over the judges. If it did, I could see how rigging would be much more plausible.
Also, keep in mind that it would be much more difficult to rig an MMA fight as opposed to a boxing match because there are a smaller number of rounds (the most would be 5 and that only happens for a main event or title fight), because the rounds are longer so fighters can get gassed quicker, and because there are many more ways for an MMA fight to end. There is no ten count in MMA. When a fighter gets knocked down, it is the job of the other fighter to keep striking his/her opponent until the ref pulls him/her off.
However, in defense of people who claim the UFC itself rigs fights, I do agree that it does rig them but not in the way that you are thinking. Look at UFC superstar Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva for example. In his most recent fight against Nick Diaz (a win that the NSAC later turned into a no contest), it turns out that Silva failed a drug test before and after the fight. Recently, the NSAC suspended him retroactively for a year. This was his first fight since he suffered a devastating leg injury against UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. The Diaz fight took place in January and we’re just now hearing about his punishment in August. The UFC had to have known at some point before the announcement that he took PEDs. Yet, they still pushed the event and rushed Silva to get into the octagon so soon after breaking his leg.
To make a long story short, with all the money and fame that the UFC and its’ superstars garner, I think the UFC pulls some strings to make fights that everyone wants to see occur but does not actually affect the outcome of the fights themselves.