Referee Yves Lavigne says he wiped down Anderson Silva and got approval from Thales Leites’ corner prior to their main event bout Saturday at UFC 97.
An SI.com live blog observed that as Silva entered the Octagon, he rubbed lubricant -- applied to his face by a commission-approved cutman -- onto his torso. In the wake of “greasing” allegations against Georges St. Pierre’s corner at UFC 94, the observation received critical attention.
However, Lavigne, who watched a replay of Saturday’s event, said the cameras did not reveal that both himself and Leites’ corner had noticed Silva repeatedly touch his face and body during his warm-up lap around the Octagon. Lavigne said Leites’ corner motioned for the referee to inspect Silva’s body, although Lavigne said he would have proceeded regardless.
“I saw he had a little Vaseline on his chest and I wiped it from his chest and arms, as I saw him touching them as well,” Lavigne told Sherdog.com on Tuesday.
Lavigne said he then motioned to Leites’ corner and was given a “thumbs up” of approval.
“I took care of it, and the other corner felt OK with it,” said Lavigne.
Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro, who was one of Leites’ cornermen that night, supported Lavigne’s recollection of events.
“I remember Yves Lavigne toweled and cleaned the body,” Ribeiro said. “I don’t think [the cutman] put a lot of grease on his face and [Silva] put it on his body. I think everything was pretty fair.”
Ribeiro said he did not see his corner signal to Lavigne after Silva had been wiped down, but the world-renowned lightweight said Leites’ head coach, Andre Pederneiras, could have done it without him noticing.
Lavigne said both Silva and his corner were apologetic, and the fighter tried to assist the referee as he tended to him.
“While I wiped one glove, Silva took the end of the towel and wiped his other glove. He was helping me,” Lavigne said. “Both corners were aware of it and approved [of] it.”