In July, the UFC filed a defamation lawsuit against legendary fighter Wanderlei Silva over two posts he made on Facebook, in which Silva alleged—ludicrously, it should be said—that the UFC fixed fights. Now Silva is trying to get that lawsuit thrown out of court, arguing that there is proof of his allegations, and that the UFC can’t actually sue him for defamation.
The motion filed Friday (first reported by our friends at Bloody Elbow) takes issue with the UFC’s interpretation of Silva’s Facebook posts. They were written in Portuguese (Silva’s native language), and the suit claims the UFC is suing based on their flawed translation and interpretation of Silva’s words:
In fact, Silva’s “cheating” and “fight-fixing” statements were geared towards the now public evidence that the UFC allowed fighters who had failed drug tests to compete and the practice of pushing fighters to compete when injured an (sic) unable to properly train.
What is that now public evidence that the UFC allowed fighters who had failed drug tests to compete? A Deadspin report from a couple of weeks ago detailing how the UFC allowed Vitor Belfort to fight Jon Jones in UFC 152 even after a privately administered pre-fight drug test had come up with problematic results. (UFC flack Dave Sholler dismissed that report after Saturday’s fight card, calling any claim that the UFC had covered anything up “categorically false.” We did not make that claim.)
Silva’s motion questions what it says is the unusual timing of the suit, noting that the UFC didn’t sue Silva after other incendiary remarks he made in September of 2014. The July lawsuit came two months after a Nevada court overturned the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s lifetime ban and fine of Silva for avoiding a drug testing official, and one month after a class action lawsuit filed against the UFC by three former UFC fighters was transferred to the District of Nevada. That timing raises some questions:
Given the coincidental timing, one has to ask if this lawsuit is truly a defamation lawsuit for two Facebook posts in Portuguese, or is this a lawsuit aimed at chilling Silva’s free speech related to the NSAC Case and the Class Action? Moreover, is this lawsuit a way for the UFC to make an example of Silva? After all, if the UFC will retaliate and threaten someone as revered and renowned as Silva, who is retired, what will it do to any other MMA fighters who are putative class members and dare to participate in the Class Action?
Bloody Elbow has more analysis of the filing; you can read the full thing below.
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