Wanderlei Silva Believes He Will Be Licensed By NSAC, But Should He Be?

By Jay Anderson
UFC President Dana White separates Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen during UFC 175 face off
Getty Images

Brace yourselves — there’s a good chance we may see history repeat itself come Aug. 21, when UFC fighter and Pride legend Wanderlei Silva goes before the Nevada State Athletic Commission to explain why he dodged a surprise drug test earlier this year in the lead-up to Silva’s hotly anticipated match with rival Ultimate Fighter 3 Brazil coach Chael Sonnen.

The test dodge, news of which was originally broken by Sonnen himself on UFC Tonight, resulted in Silva being pulled from the bout, which was to have taken place at UFC 175 in July. When Sonnen later failed multiple drug tests of his own, Silva was all but forgotten — but in just ten days time, he’ll have to explain his actions once more and face the music. That explanation will likely be the determining factor in whether or not Silva fights again at all this year, or even in early 2015.

Here’s the key to the issue: Silva initially claimed that a language barrier was to blame for the failed test, going so far to release a video statement with the claim, only to later change his story and admit that he had been on diuretics (banned in competition as they can mask performance enhancing drugs) for a broken wrist. That came to light at his initial NSAC hearing in June; he now awaits word of his fate at the upcoming hearing.

Silva himself seems confident he’ll be allowed to apply for a fight license — and he has good reason to. After all, Vitor Belfort failed a drug test in February and was given no punishment whatsoever, clearing the way for his title shot against Chris Weidman this winter. Why, then, would Silva have to worry? Speaking to AG Fight during the recent WSOF 12 event, he had the following to say (translated):

“I have been preparing my defense. But there’s not much that can be done (as punishment), there’s no law covering me. I do not have a license and I’m not committed to participate in any event. I’ll make my defense, and when I have (a fight) planned, I will test and prove I’m clean to get licensed.”

The Nevada Attorney General is pursuing Silva for the cost of the investigation, and the NSAC could opt to ban Silva, fine him, or both, but will they? They didn’t with Belfort, who outright failed a test which led to the end of the TRT era in the UFC. Silva may get lucky with a loophole like his Brazilian countryman, who was out of competition when he failed his test, or he may not, but it seems that he does in fact have a fight in mind — a third bout with Dan Henderson. Hendo is open to the bout, however, Silva is calling for it to go down, if possible, in a stadium in Brazil, meaning the Axe Murderer is clearly unaware of his declining popularity in his home country, or has simply become delusional.

Then again, you might think he was delusional in believing he’ll face no punishment from the NSAC for his test dodge — if only an ugly precedent hadn’t already been set.

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