Yesterday we reported that Wanderlei Silva had been forced to pull out of his UFC 116 bout with Yoshihiro Akiyama due to injury.
Today the Brazilian fighter spoke with Fighters Only to give his account of what had happened and how he’s feeling about the late call-off.
“I am here to talk about my last few days. I went through a very tense and difficult weekend and had a very hard decision. Two weeks ago I felt pain in my knee while I was training wrestling. I had an MRI of my knee and three doctors told me my knee was torn. I took medicine to help with the pain, and although my knee felt loose, I said “no,” this date is very important to me and I continued training.
I tried training more upper body and boxing; I kept losing weight and I was gonna fight no matter what. Last Friday, during sparring, I injured my rib. It was very painful and the next day I had an x-ray and an MRI. I discovered I had three broken ribs.
After years of fighting, my body made me stop this time. I am here to tell you that I cannot fight on this card. I am very sad because I trained for four months. This is a very difficult time for me. Now, I know that I need to have surgery on my knee. I have no option… I am going to work hard to return. I know my God is with me and He is going to bless me one more time. I am praying a lot and I know that God is going to bless the surgeon. I am going to be 100% and will fight many more years.”
…This is a very, very, very hard moment for me. This is my livelihood, my job and I already put in a lot of time and effort into this fight. This was a fight I really, really desired… You cannot imagine how much I wanted to fight on this card. I am not the kind of fighter who fights just for the money and I will prove to you now – I could have entered the Octagon, received one punch, and said “that’s it, I have broken ribs.” But I fight to give you a big show. When I fight I always give 100% and I fight to show everybody real MMA and to help the sport grow and to excite my fans.
“I apologize to all my fans. I ask for your prayers for a successful surgery and healthy body. I will be back in shape to fight again and to give you more excitement. A big hug for all of you and be with God.”
Meanwhile the man the UFC called upon to replace Silva at the event, Chris Leben has been talking to bjpenn.com about his decision to accept the fight just days after his last encounter with Aaron Simpson.
“The UFC called me and they said Wanderlei was hurt and they want me to fight Akiyama. You know, I had a great showing on Saturday night, I left Vegas early, didn’t go out and party, hopped on the first flight home and I got the call the next day,” Leben says.
“I figured, ‘Hey, I’m still in great shape, I’m not hurt, a couple bumps and bruises but nothing bad’. With this opportunity, there was just no way I could turn down this opportunity it’s just huge,” he added.
Leben’s right that this is a big opportunity. In January there was talk that a loss to Jay Silva could potentially have spelled an end to his UFC career after falling to back-to-back defeats. Now just six months later he could potentially extend his unbeaten run to three fights.
Will he 100% healthy just two weeks after his last appearance in the octagon though? We’ll find out for sure on July 3rd.