Anderson Silva is voor velen de beste vechter aller tijden. Met dertien van zijn vijftien gewonnen UFC gevechten kan er dus gesteld worden dat “The Spider” niet vaak terughoudt. In gesprek met Tatame onthult de Braziliaan dat hij zich wel inhield tegen Thales Leites op UFC 97. Waarom? Omdat hij Leites beschouwt als een vriend.
“There’s no such thing as holding back. I want to finish as soon as possible. The only time I did it was because he was a friend of mine. It was against Thales Leites. We went until the last round because he’s a friend of mine and I respect him”
In het gevecht was duidelijk te zien dat Silva zich inhield en dat Leites zich graag liet vallen om het zo naar de grond te brengen. Silva won via unanimous decision en behield hiermee de UFC middleweight titel. Samen met Demian Maia, waarbij ook gedacht kan worden aan inhouden, is Leites tot nu toe de enige die het de volle 25 minuten heeft volgehouden met Silva in de UFC.
Leites heeft een andere versie van het verhaal. Ook zou mee hebben gespeeld dat Silva respect heeft voor het team van Leites, Nova Uniao, en claimt daar ook tijd te hebben doorgebracht om te trainen. Dit zit Leites niet lekker en vertelt tegen Tatame dat hij nooit bevriend was met Silva en dat de UFC middleweight champion nooit bij Nova Uniao is geweest:
“First of all, I would like to say Anderson has never been or went to Nova Uniao. I have never seen him around, we were never friends, only professional colleagues. No doubt, he is a great fighter. If he says he was easy on me because he considers me to be his ‘friend,’ I don’t agree. The fight was not finished because neither of us could do it. People criticized me a lot after the fight with Anderson, I really should have done more and gone for it, but the guys who came after me did not do things much different. The ones who tried to stand-up with him got exposed and were knocked out, and the one who used the game plan of taking him down was defeated on the judges’ decision, like me. I think it’s funny a champion that always talks about respecting each other and martial arts would say something like that. I am a fighter, and I respect everyone. I know what a fighter goes through to get there. We all have good and bad moments in our career. It’s just a big rollercoaster with ups and downs. But, we have got to stay humble and stay quiet about subjects that do not add anything. There is no superman, we are all human beings.”
De hoofdcoach van Nova Uniao, Andre Pederneiras, zei ook wat over de situatie in een open brief aan Tatame:
“To begin with, I would like to thank the great champion Anderson Silva for having mentioned our team on the show. We are very flattered. On the other hand, we do not agree with what he said about training with the team during the preparation for that fight and, mainly, the way he mentioned our athlete Thales Leites. We are sad to hear him say he took it easy on the guy. Nova Uniao trains its athletes to become the best in the world Sometimes we are successful, and others we are not, like with Thales VS. Anderson.
I ask the champion that if we have another contender, in the future, do not take it easy on him. We do not believe that is what actually happened. Anderson did not finish the fight because he could not. It is very bad for us, years after that fight, to hear a speech undermining our work and everything we have done for the sport, like training, tactics and everything else. Undermining a team, a coach and mainly an athlete. Actually, these kind of statements do even more: they undermine the 20 others guys Thales has fought and came out as the winner, well known athletes who fight on the worldwide MMA circuit.
Champion, Nova Uniao will always root for you. Congratulations for your success.
P.S.: The first thing I told to my athletes Eduardo Dantas and Marco Loro, when the pairing up was confirmed, was that they should fight for real when the Bellator title fight comes. Go there and fight, and then we will all eat pizza together, but during the fight, do your best to finish the fight. MMA fans deserve that and so do your friends and teammates. That is it.
Graciously, Andre Pederneiras”