A few months ago, UFC light heavyweight Thiago Silva was facing two felony counts of attempted murder stemming from an incident at a Florida martial arts academy. The victim? His then-wife, Thaysa.
A police report, available here, included harrowing tales of Silva threatening his wife with a firearm — and that was even prior to the incident at the academy. The charges were later reduced to aggravated assault.
Silva was released from the UFC, with UFC President Dana White remarking, as reported by Dana Becker in this report, “This guy will never fight for the UFC again.”
But then everything changed.
A Broward County Attorney’s Office statement was released: “The victim was uncooperative, and investigators determined that she has likely moved out of the country.”
So, it seems Thaysa Silva chose to flee the country rather than pursue legal action. With the charges dropped, White has changed his tune.
“He was acquitted of all charges,” White said in a statement on UFC website. “How do you not let the guy fight again? He went through the legal process and came out of it untainted. He deserves to be able to make a living again. He’s back under contract.”
Truthfully, he was not acquitted. That’s when it’s decided someone is not guilty in a court of law. This matter did not come to trial.
Maybe that distinction isn’t important to everyone — but it’s bothersome.
It was also bothersome when White was asked about War Machine, now facing life in prison as a result of a violent incident with his ex-girlfriend:
“It’s horrible,” White said. “Horrible… and every time I’ve got to see, ‘Ex-UFC fighter’ when the stories are written. He fought twice! Six years ago! He was a current Bellator, Viacom fighter. I had my staff calling these reporters. ‘We don’t know what Bellator is’ and I said, ‘Ever heard of Viacom? That’s who he fights for. He fights for Viacom. Not the UFC.’ They want clicks. They want clicks. They want readers. Come on. How unfair is it?”
It’s frustrating to hear just a word or three decrying the attack — then a longer tirade on media noting the defendant’s tenure with the UFC.
The UFC is sometimes fancies itself “The Super Bowl of Mixed Martial Arts.”
It’s a comparison, not without merit, to how the National Football League is synonymous with professional football in the US.
Unfortunately, that league is dealing with its own domestic violence public relations disaster in the name of Ray Rice. The NFL had only initially announced a two-game suspension for Rice’s incidents. Then when film surfaced of Rice brutally punching his wife and knocking her unconscious, his team released him from his contract and the NFL has suspended him indefinitely — effectively ending his NFL career.
We don’t have film of what transpired with Silva and his ex-wife — and he maintains his innocence in recent interviews. In fact, on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Silva said the lesson he learned was: “I learned not to trust girls.”
He is, of course, innocent until proven guilty.
But — as in the NFL — there’s reason for a whole lot of concern about the way this has been handled.