The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) is a bit tight-lipped regarding Wanderlei Silva's confusing licensing situation that has apparently moved the UFC to remove him from the July 5 UFC 175 card and a fight against rival Chael Sonnen. In a self-produced and released video, Silva responded to reports that he refused a random drug test by the NSAC and/or missed a hearing with the NSAC by saying that unidentified man in a suit came to his gym recently, asking him to sign paperwork in English and that the fighter refused to without his lawyer present to aide him in understanding the language.
Cagewriter spoke with new NSAC executive director Bob Bennett Friday and asked him to explain the specific nature of Silva's licensing problems with Nevada - where the fighter has lived and owned a gym for several years. "As far as Mr. Silva, the only thing I can comment on - in an effort to be fair to all involved -is to say that he is not licensed in Nevada," Bennett said.
"He can still put in for a license. If he’d like to, we'd welcome this application."
Bennett said that he didn't know, off-hand, how long it had been since Silva had been licensed by Nevada. When asked whether the NSAC had indeed attempted to collect a sample of some sort from Silva recently, to test, (as they are authorized to do of fighters in Nevada, in and out of competition) the executive director declined to comment.
"I'm not going to go there at this point in time," he said.
"If that’s Mr. Silva’s position, he hasn’t contacted me. We look forward to an application from him if he wants to put one in. I don't know that he will, though. We'd be more than willing to look at his application. If he doesn't apply, he knows why."
Silva, a former Pride champion, has never been known to have had licensing issues in the past. The Brazilian was scheduled to fight Chael Sonnen, who has previously failed a post-fight urine test in California after UFC 117.
The UFC is reportedly hoping to replace Silva with Vitor Belfort, who tested positive for a banned steroid in 2006 and gave up a scheduled middleweight title shot bout in May shortly after the Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) that he's used for years was effectively banned from the sport. Belfort is also not currently licensed by Nevada to fight.
In February, the NSAC conducted a random test of Belfort. After seeing the results of the test, Belfort decided not to go ahead and apply for a fighter's license in Nevada and so the NSAC said that it was not going to release the test results.
Belfort and his camp have dodged questions about the February test results ever since. Belfort has reportedly applied for a license to fight in Nevada again, in order to replace Silva against Sonnen at UFC 175.
Asked of the likelihood of Belfort having difficulty getting licensed in Nevada once more because of his past steroid bust and long absence from fighting in the state, Bennett simply said that "The Phenom" will get his hearing like anyone else.
"Mr. Belfort is scheduled to come before the commission June 17. He can come in person or conference call in. I'm sure the commissioners will address issues like those and ask any relevant questions of Mr. Belfort at that time," he said.