UFC veteran Wanderlei Silva has issued a sort-of apology to all the humourless fans and media pundits who reacted angrily to the fighter's April Fools' prank, which suggested the Brazilian would replace an injured Alexander Gustafsson at this weekend’s UFC on Fuel TV 9 event.
Gustafsson was due to headline against UFC newcomer Gegard Mousasi in his home country of Sweden, but an eye injury he suffered over the weekend has forced him to withdraw.
While speculation raged over the Easter holiday as to whether the rising light heavyweight star would really be out of a match seen crucial for his title aspirations, Silva posted a tweet which sent fans and journalists into a frenzy.
Despite the tweet hitting the social media world on April,1, the prospect of seeing MMA legend Silva, who recently returned to 205 pounds with a thrilling win over Brian Stann in March, was enough for most of the internet to overlook what now seems like an obvious joke. When the truth finally came out, some were not amused.
Mousasi himself, who is a highly fancied light heavyweight coming into the UFC undefeated in six fights, branded Silva a “jackass” and an “idiot,” for the tweet. Red-faced journalists were also among those not amused by Silva’s prank, including our own Jeremy Botter.
Silva has now issued a YouTube apology in which he says, “Some people got mad. But take it easy, everyone gets tricked some day. It was just a joke.”
Silva says that he was surprised everyone got fooled so easily on April Fools’ day, but clearly has no regrets. In a personal message to Mousasi, who really thought he was going to fight Silva on just five days' notice, Silva says:
“I want to wish Mousasi good luck. And I am sorry. But if you don’t want to accept my apology, I am here, and I also fight in the 205 division... I think all of this was good marketing for the event.”
One thing that did emerge out of the biggest April Fools’ prank in MMA this year, was the clear interest of fans wanting to see Silva return to the weight class that made him a star in Pride and take on Mousasi. Though there’s no word whether, after Saturday, the UFC will consider a Silva/Mousasi matchup, the Brazilian is still keen and is waiting for UFC matchmaker Joe Silva’s phone call.
Gustafsson, on the other hand, is officially out of the event on Saturday, and will be replaced by his teammate Ilir Latifi.