Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Anderson Silva celebrates after defeating Chael Sonnen (not pictured) during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
What a tangled web we weave.
Well, not all of us, just "The Spider" (Anderson Silva) himself, who, for some reason, decided to head down memory lane during a recent interview, where the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight Champion decided to reveal the fact that he took it easy on Thales Leites at UFC 97 in Montreal, Quebec on April 18, 2009.
Apparently, Silva also inferred that the reason he didn't try and secure a finish versus Leites, was because of his fondness for Leites' camp, Nova Uniao, where he claimed to have spent some time training.
That didn't sit well with Leites or with his Nova Uniao brethren, who are all now rallying around the fact that Silva was not friends with Leites or any of the rest of them, for that matter.
Here's what Leites had to say in response (via Tatame):
"First of all, I would like to say Anderson has never been or went to Nova Uniao. I have never seen him around, we were never friends, only professional colleagues. No doubt, he is a great fighter. If he says he was easy on me because he considers me to be his ‘friend,' I don't agree. The fight was not finished because neither of us could do it. People criticized me a lot after the fight with Anderson, I really should have done more and gone for it, but the guys who came after me did not do things much different. The ones who tried to stand-up with him got exposed and were knocked out, and the one who used the game plan of taking him down was defeated on the judges' decision, like me. I think it's funny a champion that always talks about respecting each other and martial arts would say something like that. I am a fighter, and I respect everyone. I know what a fighter goes through to get there. We all have good and bad moments in our career. It's just a big rollercoaster with ups and downs. But, we have got to stay humble and stay quiet about subjects that do not add anything. There is no superman, we are all human beings."
And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Nova União head-coach, Andre Pederneiras also commented on the situation, in an open letter sent to Tatame. The message? Silva is a great fighter, and he's welcome at Nova Uniao any time -- but he's never been there, and they'd like him to show a little more respect to the fighters who regularly train there:
"To begin with, I would like to thank the great champion Anderson Silva for having mentioned our team on the show. We are very flattered. On the other hand, we do not agree with what he said about training with the team during the preparation for that fight and, mainly, the way he mentioned our athlete Thales Leites. We are sad to hear him say he took it easy on the guy. Nova Uniao trains its athletes to become the best in the world Sometimes we are successful, and others we are not, like with Thales VS. Anderson.
I ask the champion that if we have another contender, in the future, do not take it easy on him. We do not believe that is what actually happened. Anderson did not finish the fight because he could not. It is very bad for us, years after that fight, to hear a speech undermining our work and everything we have done for the sport, like training, tactics and everything else. Undermining a team, a coach and mainly an athlete. Actually, these kind of statements do even more: they undermine the 20 others guys Thales has fought and came out as the winner, well known athletes who fight on the worldwide MMA circuit.
Champion, Nova Uniao will always root for you. Congratulations for your success.
P.S.: The first thing I told to my athletes Eduardo Dantas and Marco Loro, when the pairing up was confirmed, was that they should fight for real when the Bellator title fight comes. Go there and fight, and then we will all eat pizza together, but during the fight, do your best to finish the fight. MMA fans deserve that and so do your friends and teammates. That is it.
Graciously, Andre Pederneiras"