Chael Sonnen-Wanderlei Silva Altercation on ‘TUF’ Draws Mixed Reactions in Brazil

By: Marcelo Alonso
Apr 24, 2014
Many in the Brazilian MMA community do not approve of Wanderlei Silva’s actions on “TUF.” | Taro Irei/

The last two episodes of the “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3” have sparked plenty of controversy within the Brazilian mixed martial arts community. The vast majority of the audience, including Brazilian fighters and coaches, did not approve of the brawl between Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen on the show. They also did not have a favorable view of Team Silva coach Andre Dida’s role in the altercation. Below are some reactions to the recent events on the reality show.

Jose Landi-Jons (former Silva teammate): Wanderlei raucous behavior on the show is not the Wanderlei I know. What Dida did [by involving himself] was not honorable in martial arts. These things are solved one on one, and nobody else interferes.

Vitor Belfort: Wanderlei and Sonnen’s brawl on “TUF Brazil” embarrasses me. MMA fighters should be aware that their behavior can influence millions of people for better or for worse. MMA is not a brawl, it's a fight of trained people inside an Octagon.

Paulo Nikolai (muay Thai master): Wanderlei was defending 200 million Brazilians. I would have done worse. No matter how much Sonnen plays the good guy, we have to look at everything he has said about Anderson Silva and Brazil in the past. The Brazilian people are not being appreciative of an idol [Silva] who has done so much for our sport.

Vitor Miranda (Team Sonnen): The production contributed greatly to this brawl occurring. The atmosphere between the two teams in the training center was horrible, but inside the house, without the tension between the coaches, everybody got along very well. All I can say is that Sonnen is a great guy as a coach and person, and both teams only have good things to say about him.

Carlos Barreto (commentator): Today there are millions of people watching our sport on Rede Globo, and we can't give ammunition to detractors of the MMA, who have always told us that our sport is a human cock fight. I am from the same era as Wanderlei, where we fought without gloves, but I understand that things have evolved. We are trendsetters and we have to take responsibility.

Cezario Bezerra (Anderson Silva's boxing trainer): It was very bad for the sport here and abroad. The vast majority of people who I talked to condemned Wanderlei’s attitude. The general public should not be led to believe that the average MMA fighter is a street brawler. Americans will be thinking that everyone in Brazil is a savage, like Sonnen said, and that's not true. If there is a law that people respect in the world of fights, it is the one-on-one aspect. When there are two guys fighting nobody interferes. In 20 years of war between jiu-jitsu and Luta-Livre there have been hundreds of fights, but no cases of cowardice. It is absurd what Dida did.

Marcelo Russio ( editor): I saw an interview with Sonnen before the show aired where he admitted that he had come to be the villain, but with the attitude of Wanderlei he soon realized that it would be easy to be the good guy on “TUF.” Sonnen is extremely intelligent and is gaining the sympathy of the Brazilian audience. Wanderlei is behaving like the school bully. And everyone has been through this at some point in life. Dana White represented the majority of sports fans very well in the scolding he gave.

Fabio Gurgel (Team Wand jiu-jitsu trainer): I think Dida got a little too excited -- those who know him know his true character. As for Wanderlei, I think the instigation of conflict [by the production team] got out of control. I think Wanderlei is a genuine guy who took up the cause of defending the people.

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza: I am totally against this kind of attitude. I wouldn't do that, but I'm not going to judge anyone. Wanderlei has so much to offer inside the Octagon, so he shouldn’t have to prove anything by fighting outside of it.

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