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In the lead-up to Bellator 131, the promotion enlisted some of the pioneering names in mixed martial arts to do appearances, sign autographs, and generally help promote Bellator's first event in its move away from its original seasonal tournament-based format.
Royce Gracie, Randy Couture, and Frank Shamrock were a big part of the festivities, and Wanderlei Silva was supposed to be a late addition to the line-up. But that was before UFC officials caught wind of the situation.
Silva, despite recently retiring and then being banned from competition for life by the Nevada Athletic Commission, is still under contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which apparently extends to his promotional activities as well as his competitive career.
Silva, in a new video released via his YouTube channel, said that he was to be paid $10,000 for two hours of signing autographs as part of the Bellator 131 promotion, but added that was quickly nullified when the UFC pointed out that he was still under contract and threatened to sue if he appeared.
That hasn't sat well with Silva, who once again railed on his former employer.
“I am retired, I don't fight anymore, I lost the desire,” Silva said. “So what stops me from generating income now? Are these people going to keep threatening me? They'll keep coming to sue me every time I work with my image? How is that going to be? This is a shame.
“These guys are doing things above the law. Because the law clearly states that every person is free to come and go. And they want to take that away from the athletes? How is that? This is not right at all; this is wrong. We can't live under this kind of control,” he continued.
“So I can't work anymore, I can't profit from the image that I built with my blood, my sweat, my heart and everything that you all witnessed?”
UFC president Dana White recently defended his company's handling of Silva, telling Brazilian media outlet Combate that “The Axe Murderer” was paid handsomely during his time in the UFC.
“Wanderlei Silva fought six times in the last five years. If overwork is to fight once a year, I do not know what to tell you,” White said (via Google Translate). “You know how much money Wanderlei won since he started fighting in the UFC? He earned $9.7 million. He says everyone is getting rich except the fighters; then what does he consider rich?”
Whatever he was paid, and however he was treated, Silva certainly doesn't believe it was as it should be. He's been extremely vocal since his retirement and subsequent ban, saying that the UFC has all the control and is using it to press fighters into contracts that he feels only favor the promotion, leaving Silva with a sour taste in his mouth.
“So I spilled all my blood for nothing.”