It was certainly real enough to force the postponement of the opposing coaches’ end-of-season fight, the executive told MMAjunkie.
“What happened was Wanderlei got hurt in that fight,” White said following Wednesday’s TUF Nations Finale. “He got double legged on the concrete and he hurt his back. He hurt his hand punching Chael in the head and he got injured.
“He couldn’t fight on time because he got hurt in the fight f—ing coaching a show. I’m done being angry now. I was angry when it happened. It’s just disgusting.”
Many suspected the whole incident might have been fake, given Sonnen’s reputation as a pro-wrestling style promoter who frequently bends the truth to hype fights. But that initial thought gave way to a tentative endorsement of the brawl’s authenticity.
Whether or not it was staged, the fact is that Sonnen (28-14-1 MMA, 7-7 UFC) and Silva (35-12-1 MMA, 5-7 UFC) were scheduled to headline the TUF Brazil 3 Finale on May 24 in Sao Paulo. Then, earlier this month, the UFC announced that the bout was being shifted to UFC 175, which takes place July 5 at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center.
“There’s a bunch of idiots in the media saying, ‘That thing looks contrived,’” White said. “It was far from contrived. That thing was a disgusting display of what shouldn’t happen, and if I was there it would have never happened.
“The fact that there were other people, even people holding camera in that f–king place and let that happen is just beyond belief. Then the kid who runs in and sucker-punched Chael from behind, it’s just as bad as it can get.”
In recent weeks, Sonnen has hinted that Silva might back out of the bout due to an injury, but White said the new date will hold.
The UFC executive first spoke of the brawl during a media day with reporters in Los Angeles, noting it took place midway through filming. At the time, he seemed more dismayed than outright angry at the incident. But he popped off when asked about his thoughts on what happened now that the show is public.
Silva and Sonnen eventually collected themselves after fighting on set, though Silva threatened at one point to quit the show. Cooler heads prevailed, and filming wrapped earlier this year.
The pair’s rivalry stems from the latter’s pair of fights with now-former middleweight champ Anderson Silva. Silva became enraged at Sonnen’s promotional hyperbole and confronted him in a now-infamous video posted by the former PRIDE champ. Sonnen was none too pleased to see the interaction made public, which prompted him to take aim at Silva during interviews.
After several months of buildup and a near run-in at an MMA expo, things finally came to a boil on the reality show set, despite Silva saying he wouldn’t fight in the street with Sonnen because he was a professional.
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