It is common knowledge that many of the greatest MMA fighters are from other countries that do not sport English as a first language. From Russia to Brazil, legends have come and gone leaving behind them an amazing career, but yet they never truly connected with fans. Much of it for Fedor was the fact he was never in a UFC cage and Dana White took every chance to curve casuals from ever considering how good he was. Anderson Silva however is a different story.
Anderson was never a huge success until he hit the UFC. Sure he was a talented fighter, but he never hit his stride until he stepped into the octagon. So why is it that so many fans are give or take on such an amazing fighter? It's simple, neither Anderson or Fedor speak English and every piece of literature that is printed with their name on it has a quote that has been stated my management, or translated by a management hired translator.
Fedor will go down as he greatest heavy weight ever, but above that will be in big letters "TO NEVER FIGHT IN THE UFC". There were a couple of times when we thought the Russian smashing machine was close to stepping into the UFC cage, but it was never to be. Boards lit up with internet lynch mobs blaming Fedor and calling him a coward for ducking the UFC. Hardcore fans soon came to realize that it wasn't Fedor who was ducking the UFC, it was his management, M-1 that was keeping the former Pride champ from gracing the cage.
Not only was M-1 fucking up contract negotiations, they were pulling double duty and fucking up Fedor's reputation as well. Headlines read "Fedor does not like the UFC's contract stipulations" and "Fedor feels insulted by the UFC". All of this was statements prepared and released by M-1, Fedor's talking head. In the most recent contract talks with the UFC, details were leaked on the terms of the contract offer made by the UFC. Shortly after M-1 denied that the details were true, after this a few shady things happened. First off the UFC offered Gegard Mousasi a contract that he never seen, and he was promptly signed with Strikeforce for what was less money. Mousasi left M-1 shortly after and never gave a specific reason, but the jerking around of his career was probably the reason. Shortly after the second set of contract negotiations broke down between the UFC and Fedor, and the details were leaked, Fedor stated that he would have accepted the contract if the details were true.
The problem is that what the media gets is filtered through M-1, but so is all he information that Fedor gets in return. It is common knowledge that Fedor didn't speak to Dana White or the UFC in person, and this was intentional. M-1 wanted nothing to leak past their filter and get to their meal ticket, it leaves the interesting question of what could have been if Fedor spoke English and was able to freely look abound information that the UFC sent to him.
Anderson Silva has been destroying people for the better part of 5 and a half years, yet he draws like a popular mid carder not the destructive force that he is. Ever since he first stepped foot in the UFC cage he has had Ed Soares talking for him and feeding the media with quotes on his thoughts on things. Excuse the language, but who gives a flying fuck was the manager has to say? At times i question on what Sornes translates is what Silva actually said. I started to doubt this shortly after the Maia fight when our beloved Orcus translated what Silva said and it was mildly different than what Sornes had said. Not so much in the true content, but in tone. When Ed translated what Silva said he made it sound apologetic and catered to the fans, but Orcus' translation was a more of a "fuck off deal with it" type of tone. I have long held a little distaste for Silva for acting humble one minute and then coming off as an ass later, but in reality it was Ed who was the humble one.
Silva's management team is his strongest connection with the North American media, he has done some English speaking interviews with Ariel over at Fanhouse, but for the most part the major media outlets post quotes that come from Ed Soares. This is one of the biggest reasons why fans in North America have never really connected with SIlva. It's like trying to make a friend by talking to his or her mother. Silva isn't quite the meal ticket as Fedor was, but then again Soares and company have been locked into a champions clause for the majority of Silva's UFC career. Also, i am not sure how SIlva would sell without the UFC brand behind him. For his skill and ability he should be drawing like GSP and Lesnar, but he does not come close to either of those. Anderson still sits around the late Couture drawing numbers, which isn't bad by any means, but not close to what he should be drawing. Now with Soares coming out and balking at the rematch with Sonnen, silly comments about Silva being afraid of the fight and that he is ducking are starting to become common place. The truth is nobody really knows how Silva feels because he has not said a word about it. All we are being fed is a management perspective on the whole thing, and every now and then a quote from Silva that is filtered through Soares. (also something to let your mind ponder over. Ask your self why this happened?)
Earlier this year Golden Glory had a group of their fighters put on the unemployment line when their star Alistair Overeem dropped out of the Strikeforce Grand Prix. There were a number of rumors going around about the UFC bringing him in, and also about him heading over to his gym's promotion to prop it up, but as usual no one really knew. It was shortly there after an injury was reported to be the reason why the Reem had to pull out from the grand prix. Fans were skeptical about this and with Alistair coming off a brutal performance in his win over Werdum that was enough to fuel the fire. Golden Glory were not tight lipped i guess, but lets say they were unable to produce anything other than choice quotes to back up the shaky reasons for their fighter pulling out.
Overeem was at risk of being placed in a Career purgatory much like Fedor was, but there was one difference, Overeem knows english and can freely put out material by himself without going through his management team, and thats what he did. Overeem produced a video that sees him at the doctors office getting checked out for a fractured rib (video here). the date of the video and the x-rays back up his claim to a real injury being the reason he had to pull out of the grand prix. There was also a bunch of issues Dana White had with the way the Golden Glory camp deals with fighter pay, but for fans it was clear the Reem had true reasons for his actions and now the hate could be properly placed on the heads of Golden Glory and Bas Boon. Shortly after Alistair penned a deal with the UFC he canned his management team citing breach of trust issues before the ink on the contract had a chance to dry.
It is a case of what ifs, but what would have it been like if Fedor could speak English and look up Dana White and major media outlets at any time he wanted? Where would Anderson Silva's PPV numbers be sitting if he was able to communicate directly with fans and media? The truth is maybe it would have never made a difference and both would still be sitting where they are now (which for Silva really isn't that bad), or maybe Fedor would be considered one of the greatest UFC champions ever with a UFC hall of fame plaque on his wall. Anderson could have been the biggest draw in history and got Gatorade and Under Armour sponsor ships and went down as the first big cross over star ever. Do not chalk this up to me taking anything away from Fedor or Silva, because i would have failed as a MMA fan if i try to shoot down what these men have done, but i can't help but wonder just how much bigger they could have been and could currently be. No one likes it when someone relies on another to do their talking for them, MMA is no execption. We are a fickle bunch that go through hot and cold stages on fighters like the sham wow guy goes through hookers so speaking through a guy like ed Soares does nothing to build a fan base. Being the best is important, but whats the point if no body gives a fuck because you can talk to them?