In the history of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), no fighter has dominated quite as much as former middleweight champion Anderson Silva. While the Brazilian has fallen on some hard times inside of the Octagon at the age of 41, he remains a promotional staple. But for Silva, UFC, a company he has called home since 2006, is beginning to shy away from competitive sport and transform into an entertainment organization.
"It's a company that is worried about entertainment. It's not a company with a history in martial arts, the philosophy of the fight," said Silva regarding WME-IMG in a recent interview with Brazilian TV show Combate News. "That's one of the reasons why ‘Jacare' is not fighting for the title because, for them, it's not something profitable, that will bring the entertainment they need.
"This is what they did their entire lives, work with entertainment. We have to understand that. It's hard because we think about the martial arts, what is correct. For the show, some fights make sense and others don't. They end up losing some fans but gain some.
"I think they are trying to make it more entertainment and and less martial arts," added Silva. "MMA doesn't have the martial art philosophy, but it's becoming less sport and turning into entertainment."
Silva certainly makes some valid points. Over the past few years, even before WME-IMG took over for Zuffa, UFC has begun to put on money-making fights instead of the ones that make the most sense when it comes to divisional matchmaking. Rankings are cemented in front of fighters like free samples, yet are rarely followed closely when mapping out divisions. The Brazilian superstar also seems to think that the dynamic is beginning to shift due to the absence of former CEO Lorenzo Fertitta.
"I think they just took a big risk because the face of the UFC was always Dana (White) and Lorenzo," said Silva. "When you don't have Dana and Lorenzo, the good cop and the bad cop, it's kind of up in the air. But let's be positive. I believe everything will be alright."
For now, Silva will have to let his fighting do the talking. He's still one of the bigger draws in the promotion and could certainly fall under this new entertainment-driven model, but he must first defeat Derek Brunson at UFC 208 on Feb. 11 from Brooklyn, New York. If he can do that, Silva will have a few things up his sleeve.
"If I fought for the title and won, I'd leave the division," said Silva. "Maybe fight one or twice more, move up (to light heavyweight) or go down (to welterweight). We've done some tests with my team and the lowest weight I made was 170, 171, so that could be a possibility."