Former UFC middleweight Wanderlei Silva won’t be getting away from Zuffa’s defamation claims without a fight, after a Nevada judge denied Silva’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, ESPN reports.
Silva was being sued for making fallacious claims about the promotion, most notably alleging the fight league was illegally predetermining the winner of particular bouts, otherwise known as fixing fights. “The Axe Murderer” posted his allegations on social media, claiming he had concrete evidence of the promotion’s wrongdoings. Silva’s lawyers claimed he was merely exercising his first right to free speech.
Judge Joanna S. Kishner disagreed partially, denying Zuffa’s claims to monetary damages.
“I’m glad we have a judicial officer with First Amendment experience,” Zuffa’s attorney Donald J. Campbell told ESPN. “This law can be convoluted and we’re happy the court arrived at what was clearly the right result. We look forward to delving into Mr. Silva’s statements further.”
Silva hasn’t stepped inside the Octagon since March 2013, when he defeated Brian Stann via second-round TKO. He’d signed on to face off with longtime rival Chael Sonnen at UFC 175 on July 2014, but infamously ran from a random drug test, prompting the Nevada State Athletic Commission to issue a lifetime ban. The ruling was reversed earlier this year, but he’s since refused to return fighting under the UFC banner.
“While he may be retired from the UFC, to the best of my knowledge he is not retired from any other organization he might someday wish to compete in,” Coffing said.
Releasing Silva from his UFC contract seems all but unlikely at this point, regardless of his intentions to return to fighting outside the Octagon.