The MMA world was up in arms when speculation spread that Wanderlei Silva avoided a prefight random drug test in Nevada, and was subsequently pulled from his scheduled UFC 175 fight with Chael Sonnen.
The storm winds blew in when it came to light that Sonnen, who submitted to the random test, failed it.
Sonnen’s failure comes with its own flavor of controversy, mostly centered on the recent testosterone replacement therapy ban and the fights that are coming off of it, which Sonnen is one of. Regardless of the details, it led Sonnen to announce his retirement earlier this week.
Silva, at that point, was but an elusive figure the fog.
He is, however, taking center stage once again, as the Nevada State Athletic Commission has requested his presence at a meeting on June 17.
Silva evading the drug test and Sonnen’s positive test are in the spotlight of the meeting.
Nearly every MMA insider is expecting the commission to come down harshly on Silva. Who knows what they will do with Sonnen? He’s sure to receive sanctions, but Silva is primed to become a poster boy for how not to handle random drug testing. (Watch the video of Wanderlei Silva trying to explain why he didn't take the test.)
“I love Wanderlei. Wanderlei has always been a great guy. (But) you don’t walk out on a drug test… especially in Nevada,” said UFC president Dana White at a media scrum on Thursday in Vancouver.
“There is no way in hell they are letting him off. No way in hell! They are going to bury Wanderlei Silva… in my humble opinion. They’re gonna bury him.”
And that is the sentiment of most people that follow mixed martial arts, either as a fan or a pundit.
With both Silva and Sonnen off of the UFC 175 fight card, and the UFC being unable to secure a new fight for Vitor Belfort, who was going to fight Sonnen in Silva’s absence, Belfort has been removed from the commission’s docket for the day.
White said it wasn’t he or the UFC that asked Belfort to be removed, but he certainly understands why he wouldn’t want to be part of the commission meeting that is likely to see guys like Silva and Sonnen in the commission’s crosshairs.
“It’s not easy to get Vitor Belfort an opponent in two-and-a-half weeks (notice),” said White. “(And) on this agenda, you’ve got Wanderlei Silva, the Chael Sonnen thing was going down. There’s a few boxers that are going in on the same agenda. There’s no fight for Vitor right now. When we come up with a fight, let Vitor apply for a license in Nevada.
“The other thing, you don’t want Vitor in there at the time all this other stuff is going down, when they drop the hammer on everybody.”
That leaves Silva and Sonnen to be the focus, and Silva will likely be the key focus, as Sonnen is retiring. Sonnen can, and likely will, still receive sanctions for his drug test showing positive results for prohibited substances, but most people expect Silva to receive the harsher punishment.
It’s one thing to submit to and fail a random drug test; it’s another matter to not even submit to the test. It doesn’t paint Silva in a good light.
Silva hasn’t fought since he defeated Brian Stann in Saitama, Japan, in March of 2013. Who would have thought at the time that it might have been the final time that we see the Axe Murderer in the Octagon?
But it very well might have been.