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Wanderlei Silva sticks up for Chael Sonnen, slams UFC 'freak show' for paying pennies

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Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

Wanderlei Silva recently came out of nowhere and announced his retirement from mixed martial arts (MMA), bashing his longtime employers over at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the process.

See his bitter farewell speech here.

His comments caught most people by surprise, as Silva had been a longtime favorite fighter of UFC President Dana White and seemed to have a good working relationship with the promotion.

But that didn't stop the Las Vegas fight boss from offering a rebuttal, saying that Silva was merely setting up a "smoke screen" to distract people from the bigger issue, which was his upcoming hearing with Nevada State Athletic Commission for dodging a drug test a few months back.

A hearing that resulted in a lifetime ban for Silva, prohibiting him from ever competing in the state of Nevada. They also hit him with a hefty $70,000 fine, something UFC color commentator Joe Rogan called "ridiculous" when you consider what's going on over in the NFL.

Speaking to Combate (via Bloody Elbow), Silva took the time to explain why he came to the decision to walk away from MMA and why he has hard feelings toward the higher ups at ZUFFA.

He unloads:

"The main reason is how MMA has been managed, the disrespect with the athletes. It's becoming a freak show. The promotions turn one fighter against another and don't want to pay anything. If a guy refuses to fight, an executive makes a statement and tries to show himself as a more important person. It's shameful. The guy has never been slapped in the face and tries to be more important. A fop that has never been hit says: 'You are good. That fighter don't want to fight you, he's afraid'. No, nobody is afraid. Everyone that steps in ring deserves respect and to be recognized but that isn't the case. They try to turn our fans against us. People believe in some of what is said: 'This guy is over, he doesn't want to fight that other guy'. They don't want to pay us, just pennies. You ask for more money and they say that they don't have. What do you mean? They have, they don't want to pay. And they say that someone is afraid? I'm upset about it."

Though Silva didn't divulge any incident where he himself felt disrespected by the promotion, he didn't hesitate to stand up for his fellow fighters. That includes former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao, who Silva says was living in a small house in Brazil, despite the fact that he's one of the best fighters in the world.

What that tells Silva, is that UFC was not compensating the former 135-pound kingpin very well.

"Barao was in a 32 fight unbeaten streak, undisputed champion, best pound for pound fighter in the world. I'm not talking about numbers but I was told he was living in a favela until little time ago. I've seen a picture that he was in a very poor house with his UFC belt beside him. If I was the promotion's owner, I would feel ashamed to pay him little money and charge him so hard. These guys are bad characters to call a guy a kid, like they did with Barao. We don't have voice, but it's going to change."

"The Axe Murderer" wasn't just speaking out in the defense of his fellow countrymen. In a surprising move, he even took the time to stand up for bitter rival Chael Sonnen after UFC cut all ties with him.

He also didn't feel that NSAC was fair to "American Gangster" when handing down his punishment; saying that Vitor Belfort got less for the same thing.

"It was gentlemanlike. I haven't spoken with Sonnen but people say that he's a nice guy. He was wronged by NSAC. I think it's unfair if you punish one and don't punish the other guy. It was even worse because the guy said himself that they were friends but Sonnen was fired from FOX. He was cut, fired and they tried to forbid him to fight Jiu-Jitsu. He can't work anymore? Who is going to pay his bills? To help him? Nobody helps anyone. They use us, kick our asses and do whatever they want. But it will be over. His punishment was unfair. We don't know what is behind this commission. In the same audience, Sonnen was punished and other guy (Vitor Belfort) that was caught with extremely high levels of testosterone on February was released to fight in December. Both of them had the same number of incidences. It was the same case. One of them was banned and the other is free to fight. We have to know who regulates this commission, who controls it, because it's like a circus. They do what the want and we have nobody to complain to. Nobody knows who controls this organization. They don't respect their own rules. It's complicated."

Read all about Sonnen and Belfort's issues with the NSAC here.

Silva did admit that he had a "good salary" while fighting for UFC, but refused to sign a new contract he was unhappy with when it was presented to him. He also didn't appreciate the fact that UFC would charge a company $50,000 for the rights to sponsor a fighter.

Money Silva says stayed in ZUFFA's pockets, not the athletes.

While he won't be stepping back into the Octagon, it seems Silva has another fight on his hands, as he looks to lead the crusade for his former colleagues in an effort to earn them more respect and money.

Not to mention he has some unfinished business with the "sons of bitches" who felt banning him for life was a good idea.

War Wand?