Manager: Money issues aside, 'Bigfoot' Silva's 'big heart' would've made him take GLORY 64 fight

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You’d be hard pressed to find a voice in the MMA community that actually got behind the idea of Antonio Silva’s meeting GLORY heavyweight champion Ricco Verhoeven in a kickboxing match.

And “Bigfoot” Silva (19-12-1 MMA), who’d been knocked out in four or his five previous MMA bouts, wasn’t the only one catching heat for the move. As it often happens in these cases, those close to the athlete also take some of the blame for allowing them to put themselves at risk. Silva’s manager, Alex Davis, wasn’t spared.

Speaking to MMAjunkie at the time, Davis, himself, expressed his concerns about the matchup. But, though he could offer his advice, the decision was ultimately up to his fighter. And the UFC vet, it turned out, was in no position to turn down the fight purse.

Even if that wasn’t the case, though, Davis thinks “Bigfoot” would have gone ahead with the GLORY 64 encounter.

“As a manager, my obligation and my contract is, I have to give these guys any offer that comes to my table,” Davis told MMAjunkie Radio. “I can tell them, ‘Listen, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Or, ‘I think it’s a good idea.’ But, at the end of the day, who decides it’s the fighter, it’s not me.

“And ‘Bigfoot,’ even if he had been really smart with his money and he didn’t need to fight, he would still have taken the fight. Because he’s got a big heart. And he always wanted to test himself in a K-1 style fight.”

The offer that came to the table, Davis said, just so happened to be against the very best athlete the division could offer. And while Silva was once more knocked out, the fact that it took Verhoeven more than one round to do so was met with some level of surprise.

“Everybody was throwing stones and bricks at me because of the Rico Verhoeven fight,” Davis said. “But ‘Bigfoot’ actually carried himself very well in that fight.”

According to Davis, the idea to lure the GLORY champ into an MMA match has been shot down by Verhoeven’s manager. “Bigfoot,” in turn, recently underwent knee surgery. But Davis’ tone indicated that, while he’s “in the twilight” of his career, we haven’t seen the last of him just yet. (via Instagram)

Instagram Photo

To hear from Davis, check out the video above.

And for more on the upcoming MMA schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Colby Covington doesn't care about Amanda Nunes or any other Brazilian ATT fighters he offended

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You didn’t really think Colby Covington would be worried about hurting his Brazilian teammates’ feelings, did you?

By calling Brazilians “filthy animals” after defeating Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night 119 in Sao Paulo, Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) has incurred the wrath of many, including from folks at American Top Team, the gym he calls home.

Head coach Ricardo Liborio, who is Brazilian, condemned Covington’s actions while also announcing his departure from the team. Brazilian ATT competitors have also spoken out against Covington, most notably UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and heavyweight Antonio Silva.

Instagram Photo

That doesn’t seem to faze Covington one bit.

“I don’t really care about Amanda Nunes. I don’t really care about ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, you know,” Covington on Monday told MMAjunkie Radio. “They’re not my friends. They never have been my friends, and they never will be my friends.”

Considering these Brazilian fighters are teammates who work out alongside Covington, you might think “Chaos” would show at least a little concern for offending them. But that apparently couldn’t be further from the truth.

“It’s not a team. I’m not part of a team,” Covington said. “… We’re not in a points-scoring system like basketball or football, where it’s a team. This is an individual sport. I do represent American Top Team, but I don’t represent any other fighters in that gym.”

Plus, the way Covington sees it, there’ a lack unity in the gym that already exists.

“There’s always been a dividing line between the Americans and the Brazilians,” Covington said. “I’ve said this since Day 1: There’s a lot of clicks in the gym. If you go back through my interviews, then you know this is nothing new that I haven’t said before. So it is what it is.”

None of this should come as a surprise after Covington’s flippant apology.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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After TKO loss in GLORY debut, 'Bigfoot' Silva wants rematch vs. Rico Verhoeven – but on his turf

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It wasn’t exactly a closely contested affair, but for what it’s worth, Antonio Silva managed to take one of the best kickboxers in the world to the second round in his debut.

“Bigfoot” Silva (19-12-1 MMA) met GLORY heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven (52-10-1 kickboxing) in a non-title headliner at today’s GLORY 46 SuperFight Series event in Guangzhou, China.

The bout, scheduled for three three-minute rounds, was called to a stop early in the second after a flurry by Verhoeven had “Bigfoot” cornered against the ropes.

Verhoeven relied heavily on low kicks in the first round – a strategy that seemed to pay dividends as Silva twice struggled to keep his footing. A low blow by the GLORY champ, however, caused the fight to be paused for a bit.

The beginning of the end would come in Round 2 – courtesy of a swift head kick that sent “Bigfoot” to the mat. While he did get back to his feet, Verhoeven would soon start to unleash, following a spinning kick with some punches to prompt the referee to intervene 47 seconds into the round.

While a rematch in the ring doesn’t seem all that likely, how about one in the cage? According to Silva’s longtime manager, Alex Davis, “Bigfoot” would be glad to make it happen.

“Antonio went out there and did his first kickboxing fight against the current GLORY champ and legend, Rico Verhoeven,” Davis told MMAjunkie. “And not even himself expected to win. But he fought like a lion. Nothing to be ashamed of. And nor was it the manslaughter everyone predicted.

“Now, Antonio thinks that it is Verhoeven’s turn to debut in MMA. And since he took the first challenge, he now respectfully invites Rico to do the same in MMA. Bigfoot would be more than happy to welcome him.”

In any case, the Brazilian heavyweight seems to be taking the loss like a champ. In his social media, Silva said it was “an honor” to share the ring with his foe and made it clear that he would like other opportunities to perform under the GLORY banner. (via Instagram)

Instagram Photo

“Bigfoot,” 37, was a massive underdog going into the fight, which, given the current trend of the fighters’ careers, wasn’t exactly received well by fans, media and even Davis himself when it was first announced.

Not only was it Silva’s kickboxing debut, the UFC and Strikeforce vet has lost his past five MMA fights – the last one, which ended in a knockout, took place in Russia in June. The 28-year-old kickboxing veteran Verhoeven, in turn, is now riding an eight-fight streak.

Check out the full fight, which streamed live on UFC Fight Pass, above.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Behold, Antonio 'Bigfoot' Silva, GLORY kickboxer

With just one victory in his past 10 MMA appearances, Antonio Silva (19-12-1) is trying something different.

As MMAjunkie previously reported, Silva has elected to try his hand at kickboxing, instead, and “Bigfoot” is jumping in the deep end, taking on current GLORY heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven (51-10 kickboxing) in the main event of Saturday’s GLORY 46 SuperFight Series event in Guangzhou, China.

The bout streams free of charge globally on UFC Fight Pass Saturday morning at 6 a.m. ET, meaning a monthly subscription to the UFC’s digital streaming service is not required to view the Glory 46 SuperFight Series card live – or on demand for one week following the event.

Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva

It’s destined to be an uphill battle for Silva, who oddsmakers have pegged as a massive underdog and makes his kickboxing debut in a non-title fight against one of the world’s best strikers.

“Rico is one of the best in the world, a champion, and has a lot of power and explosiveness – but I’m very relaxed about this fight,” Silva stated. “I’ve fought the best strikers in the world – Mark Hunt, Alistair Overeem and others from kickboxing – and I believe one punch will finish this fight.

“I have kicks in my game, but I really believe in the power of my hands. If I can put one punch on him, I will put him down.”

Can “Bigfoot,” who weighed in at 285 pounds for the contest, pull off one of the greatest upsets of all time? Or will Verhoeven prove too much, too soon for his Brazilian foe?

Antonio Silva and Rico Verhoeven

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Twitter Mailbag: UFC's decision to sideline Mark Hunt against his will is a tricky one

If you make your struggle with the effects of brain trauma public, how surprised can you be when a promoter won’t let you fight? But if the promoter won’t let you fight, what do you get to do?

Plus, what’s the fight of the year so far in 2017? And does the UFC flyweight champ need to jump up a division now?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

I’m torn on this. On one hand, you want the UFC to be proactive about fighter health and safety. If a fighter tells us that he’s slurring his words and struggling with short-term memory – both major red flags – you don’t want to put that person in a cage to fight for money.

On the other hand, Mark Hunt is currently suing the UFC for what he alleges is a failure to look out for fighter health and safety, so we can’t ignore the context of this move by the UFC.

It’s also worth asking if the UFC just set a precedent that it’s not willing to stick to. Georges St-Pierre has also described issues with his memory (which he attributed to possible alien activity, which is not necessarily any less concerning), but he was never pulled from any fights, and is slated to return for more in November.

Then there’s the question of what you do with a fighter who you’ve deemed medically unfit to fight based on a column he wrote for a website. How can you keep him under contract if you’re not going to let him work?

And if you do release him, does that mean any fighter can get out of his contract by publicly proclaiming his brain to be damaged, only to pop up in Bellator a couple months later declaring that, actually, he’s feeling much better now, thank you?

These are uncharted waters. This wasn’t an athletic commission that pulled Hunt from the fight. And, as far as we know, the decision to pull him wasn’t based on any actual medical testing. UFC officials just read a column with Hunt’s name on it and yanked him, which forces us to wonder about the true motives here.

(Also, if talking openly about brain trauma leads to a de facto suspension, what you’ve really done is ensure that fighters will stay quiet about their symptoms if and when they do appear.)

But again, if Hunt really is experiencing the symptoms he wrote about, he shouldn’t be fighting. I wish the UFC had done more to confirm and investigate that before acting. I also wish it hadn’t decided to make this unprecedented principled stance with a fighter who’s currently battling the promotion in court. Then it would have been a lot easier to know what to make of it.

Are those the only two choices? Because if you told me right now that Rory MacDonald has a goat who he cares for and talks to and secretly feels is the only one in this world who understands him, I would believe that in a heartbeat.

First of all, that’s awesome. Second of all, if ever there was a situation where you don’t want to walk around with an imported IPA in your hand, loudly discussing the superiority of Japanese motorcycles, this is it. Third of all, Roy Nelson? Now that’s natural sponsor synergy, right there. Fourth, remember to have a good time. Fifth, but not so good that you forget to apply sunscreen and end up with the inevitable tank top tan. That’s experience talking, my friend.

Is this love? That you’re feeling? Is this – and here I’m just thinking out loud – the love that you’ve been waiting for?

But I know what you mean. Watching Demetrious Johnson pull off a brand new submission reminded me of one of the things that I’ve always loved about MMA, which is that it’s a sport that’s always growing and changing.

Remember 15 years ago when Tito Ortiz would take somebody down, wedge their head against the fence, and elbow a hole in their face? At the time that felt like a new answer for the relatively old problem of the jiu-jitsu guard. Now it’s the first step to having someone wall-walk their way to an escape.

The nature of MMA – just two humans trying to hurt each other in a cage, with relatively few rules restricting them – makes it an environment that allows for a lot of creativity. The opportunities for evolution are everywhere. New attacks lead to new counters, which then breed new variations on the old moves. Every once in a while, an artist appears to blaze a fresh trail.

You don’t really get as much of that with most other sports. Instead you get people who do the old stuff slightly better than their predecessors. This is one of the things that makes MMA special. I hope we never lose that.

Since we’re talking about a health and safety issue, I’m not sure we want to use “try something – anything!” as our mantra here. Some proposed fixes, like same-day weigh-ins or lengthy suspensions for missing weight, are likely to make things worse, because fighters are still going to take the risks even when it’s a bad idea, and you’re not going to punish your way out of this problem.

I think the best hope for a solution is something along the lines of what California is trying to do, using hydration testing and other methods to determine a safe fighting weight for every athlete, then making the fighters stick to those guidelines even when they don’t want to.

Even that system won’t be perfect. There will be times when it feels like regulatory overreach for a commission to tell someone like Renan Barao that he doesn’t get to be a bantamweight anymore.

Plus, fighters’ bodies change. They get old. Or they just let themselves get out of shape. Just because you determine a safe fighting weight, it doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of fighters trying for last-minute, extreme weight cuts. And if you think it’s a bummer when a fight is scratched due to someone missing weight, wait until a big one is called off because someone is too far from the target weight for the commission to even let them try.

Still, this is obviously an issue. Fighters can literally die this way. Not to mention, it’s just insane to put athletes through that kind of intense depletion a day before the competition. There’s no doubt that performances suffer as a result. Careers are probably shortened, and for what? Just so fighters can face someone roughly their own size in the end?

I support athletic commissions that are serious about changing that culture, but it can’t just be one or two of them. As with anti-doping efforts, this needs to be something the whole sport does if we’re every going to get anywhere.

Ultimately? Antonio Silva is. But I see your point. It’s madness to me that GLORY would even book this fight. What’s the point? To let Rico Verhoeven show out against a big, slow punching bag of an opponent for the sake of some memorable violence? What, to prove some point about kickboxing vs. MMA? Is this some kind of sad, off-brand attempt at a Mayweather-McGregor-esque cross-sport challenge? I don’t get it.

Ideally, the people who love and care about Silva would stop him from doing this, but for various reasons I wrote about back when this fight was announced, that’s not happening. Instead we’re just charging ahead with this like these mismatches aren’t very dangerous, which they are.

I like face-punching and knockouts as much as anyone, but I won’t watch this. I can’t. As viewers and fans, that feels like the least we can do to make this sort of matchmaking stop.

 

Really, that’s your list? There’s something to spoil every one of those, and I’m pretty sure the last one is a cartoon.

If you ask me to pick a fight of the year that I can still feel good about as of this writing, I have to go with Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson. No one got popped for drugs. The judges didn’t screw it up (because Gaethje didn’t give them a chance). The fight was competitive and rational from a matchmaking perspective.

And if that’s not enough, the action was just bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

That’s not a call for the UFC to make; that’s up to the athletic commission. And no, based on precedence alone, that’s not something that merits an official punishment. We’ve seen fighters get away with much more egregious shots after the bell (looking at you, Germaine de Randamie) and there was no punitive action beyond whatever the referee was willing to do in the fight itself, which is usually nothing at all.

He doesn’t have to, because weight classes exist for a reason. But man, it sure would be great if he did, wouldn’t it?

I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by the thought of watching Johnson keep beating up the same flyweights over and over, all while the UFC has to reach further down the rankings ladder just to find fresh opponents. It feels too easy for a fighter as good as Johnson. He needs a challenge. I’d argue he needs it more than he needs another victory. It’s just a question of whether or not he sees that – and whether or not he cares.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Antonio Silva is on a troubling career trajectory, and there's no one who can stop him

Here’s what Antonio Silva’s career looks like over the past two years: Win (TKO), loss (TKO), loss (KO), loss (KO), loss (decision), loss (KO).

He’s been stopped by strikes in seven of his past 10 bouts. He has just two victories since 2012 – one over Soa Palelei, and one over Alistair Overeem, who was beating him soundly until a sudden third-round comeback by Silva.

If you do some combat sports math on the 37-year-old “Bigfoot,” what you see is a fighter on a dangerous trajectory. That path took him out of the UFC and into two fights for smaller Russian promotions, both of which he lost. His last knockout loss was two months ago.

So why did Silva (19-12-1 MMA) just sign on for a kickboxing bout against GLORY heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven (51-10-1 kickboxing) in China this October?

“Obviously, it’s not a good fight for ‘Bigfoot,’” Silva’s longtime manager Alex Davis told MMAjunkie. “Jumping right into (GLORY) to go against the current champ, who’s a murderer? Yeah, we get it.”

But Silva’s doing it anyway, and for reasons that are as old as the fight game.

For one, he thinks he can win. According to Davis, “Bigfoot” is back on testosterone-replacement therapy, which he used somewhat controversially for a time in the UFC, before the practice was effectively banned.

Now, fighting in places like Russia and China, and for organizations whose anti-doping policies are notably less stringent, he’s free to resume the use of synthetic testosterone, which makes “a huge difference” for him, Davis said.

“And also he needs money,” Davis said. “He can’t turn down fights at the moment for that reason. If it was up to me, he would not take this fight. But at the end of the day, my job is to inform him, give him my advice, and the one who has to make the final decision is him.”

Here we get into a persistent problem for fighters and fight sports. No one can tell Silva to stop. They can suggest and argue and recommend. Promoters can cut him and trainers could refuse to train him. Even Davis, a longtime friend, could stop managing him.

But as long as Silva can find someone willing to pay for his name and his willingness to walk face-first into someone else’s fists, he gets to keep going.

It was the same with Gary Goodridge, another MMA fighter who turned to kickboxing later in his career. He lost about twice as many kickboxing bouts as he won, but his appeal for promoters was that, when you booked “Big Daddy,” you knew someone would get knocked out – even if the someone was usually him.

For Goodridge, those years of damage contributed to brain trauma that eventually left him unable to remember conversations moments after they’d ended. By the evening, he couldn’t tell you what he’d done during the afternoon.

But Goodridge also needed the money. Even when he knew he shouldn’t fight anymore, he was a man in his forties with no real work history outside of cages and rings. What else was he supposed to do?

According to Davis, Silva’s brain health has been closely monitored with testing done at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas.

“Physically, ‘Bigfoot’ has no problems whatsoever,” Davis said. “He has no brain damage. We’ve done extensive research and testing, even before he left the UFC. So he’s OK on that end.”

But then, some signs of degenerative brain diseases like CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which researchers have found in the brains of deceased fighters and football players, are sometimes not apparent until years after the actual trauma.

And clearly, Silva is doing himself no favors. He went less than five months between knockout losses in 2016. You’d have to go back to 2010 to find a single calendar year in which he didn’t suffer at least one knockout.

This fight against Verhoeven doesn’t promise to be any easier on his brain. Verhoeven is younger, faster, and riding a winning streak that’s about as good as Silva’s losing streak is bad. If anything, the kickboxing rules will likely only lead to Silva absorbing more punishment than he would in an MMA bout. And then what?

Soon the paycheck will be spent and Silva will face the same questions about his future that he faces now. So far, he only seems to know one answer.

“I’ll be very sincere and tell you, I can’t defend a man from himself,” Davis said. “If he fights and doesn’t manage his money, he’ll go looking for the next fight. This is a very common problem with many fighters, not just ‘Bigfoot.’ That’s what creates situations like Gary Goodridge.”

As for Goodridge, he also had people telling him he should stop. Then he had people telling him that there was something troubling happening to him. The damage “sneaks up on you,” he said later. When he finally realized the full extent of it, it was too late to stop it.

“I had no idea it was coming,” Goodridge said in 2012. “You don’t know. Everyone around you tells you it’s happening, but you don’t notice it yourself.”

For more on the upcoming MMA schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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'Bigfoot' Silva moves to kickboxing, meets champ Rico Verhoeven at GLORY 46

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Antonio Silva has struggled in MMA of late, so now he’s moving to kickboxing to fight one of the best in the world.

“Bigfoot” Silva (19-12-1 MMA) has signed with GLORY kickboxing and will jump right into the fray with a matchup against heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven (51-10-1 kickboxing) in a non-title affair at GLORY 46 in October.

A GLORY official confirmed the matchup to MMAjunkie following the announcement from Silva on social media (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

GLORY 46 takes place Oct. 14 at Guangzhou Gymnasium in Guangzhou, China. Silva vs. Verhoeven headlines the SuperFight Series portion of the card, which streams on UFC Fight Pass.

Silva has suffered five consecutive losses in MMA and owns just a single win in his past 10 fights dating back to May 2013. Moreover, he’s suffered seven knockouts in that stretch. His most recent fight was a second-round knockout loss against former Bellator champ Vitaly Minakov at Fight Nights Global 68 in June.

Verhoeven, meanwhile, is riding a seven-fight winning streak in the kickboxing ring. GLORY’s heavyweight titleholder has defended his belt five consecutive times and is coming off a unanimous decision win over Ismael Lazaar at GLORY 41 in May.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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