UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva is $50,000 lighter today, as he was fined that amount for skipping out on a day of media in Los Angeles. Silva is scheduled to fight Chris Weidman at UFC 162. Ignoring promotion of that fight didn't sit well with UFC president Dana White.
"He doesn't like talking to the media, but it's part of his contractual obligation," White said to USA Today. "Everybody wants more money, more money, more money, but nobody wants to sell the fight or go out and talk to the media. Talking to the media is part of your job, whether you like it or not."
The UFC's newly instituted code of conduct opens the door for the promotion to fine fighters who engage in conduct that "puts at risk the promotion of a UFC event," including "failure to deliver, engage in or otherwise execute any and all promotional responsibilities."
Silva is hardly the first athlete to lose a whole lot of money for missing out on media obligations. In the NBA, LeBron James was fined $25,000 in 2009 for skipping a postgame press conference after his team was knocked out of the playoffs. When he was with the Washington Wizards, Gilbert Arenas was fined the same amount for not making himself available to media. Osi Umeniyora didn't go to a mandatory Super Bowl media session before his New York Giants won it in 2012, and had to pay out $20,000.
The biggest difference is that UFC athletes aren't required to make themselves available to the media nearly as often as NFL and NBA athletes are. For each of his fights, Silva will usually have to do a press conference when the fight is announced, a media conference call, one or two media events during fight week, and a postfight press conference if his health allows. For three fights a year, Silva is required to face the media 10-15 times a year.
Compare that to an NBA player like James. Between post-game interviews, post-practice interviews, and off-season interviews to help sell the Miami Heat season tickets, James has to meet with media at least 100 times a year.
Plus, UFC fighters have a financial stake in making sure their names are as popular as possible. Popularity means sponsors will pay more. It also means more fans will pay for a pay-per-view, affecting how much he will get off of pay-per-view sales.
When you combine a possible fine with other financial hits a fighter can take, it just makes more sense for fighters to put up with media. I promise. We're not that bad.
Anderson Silva gave his side of the situation early Tuesday in an interview with Brazil's Veja magazine. The segment was translated for Cagewriter by Yahoo's Fernando Arbex.
He said that what happened was a miscommunication between he and the UFC. He said he was aware of the appointment only Monday, when he was going to Los Angeles International airport (LAX) to catch a flight to Brazil.
“I've never missed a single appointment with UFC. I would never book a trip to Brazil if I knew I was supposed to be in Los Angeles. Everybody knows that I always lock in [media appearances so I can] devote myself to training, which is my priority. I’m an athlete and my focus will always be to train and be ready for the challenges”