Once considered a top light heavyweight prospect in the world of mixed martial arts, Thiago Silva is now surrounded by clouds of controversy, and it appears that every time he heads into a fight, the storm gets more intense.

Let’s rewind to 2008, when he was more or less considered the next big thing. He was 13-0 in his professional career and had just wrapped up his fourth straight victory inside the Octagon. While the sailing was very smooth to this point for the Brazilian, the water was just about to get choppy. He went 1-2 in his next three. Sure, the two losses came to a soon-to-be champion and a former champ, which kept him highly ranked due to the strength of his opponents.

Little did we know that the rough water was about to get worse as he headed into his fight at UFC 125 against Brandon Vera. “The Truth” was caught in his own storm as well, and you could argue that gale force winds were headed his direction. After a dominant performance in the cage by Silva, Vera was released and it appeared as though all was well for the Brazilian. That is, until the post-fight drug test results came out.

To say that the Blackzilian tested positive for something would be a lie, but you can more or less conclude that he would have when it was revealed that the urine had been altered to hide anything that he would have taken leading up to the fight. The Nevada State Athletic Commission caught this, suspended him for a year, overturned his victory to a no-contest and fined him. He was not the first fighter to ever receive this kind of treatment from a commission. It happens fairly frequently. There are a number of fighters on the UFC roster who have gone through this process, but most of them have only had to do it just the one time. As it turns out, Silva isn’t one of that bunch.

Just two fights later, the Brazilian had another victory overturned to a no-contest, this time for testing positive for marijuana. The third-round submission victory over Stanislav Nedkov was impressive, but testing positive for pot wasn’t. Whatever your feelings on the drug itself, the rules are black and white in that it is a banned substance for which fighters are tested. If caught using it, a fighter can expect that a suspension will follow. Considering that commissions more or less test 100 percent of fighters that have formerly tested positive for banned substances or, in the case of Silva, altered their sample, for him to even consider using marijuana leading up to the fight is just silly. For the second time in three fights, he had a victory overturned and was handed a suspension, this time for six months.

All of a sudden, Silva went from a fighter with a 14-2 record and lots of potential to someone who had victories taken away because of a falsified urine sample and marijuana use, and had spent a year and a half out of the game due to suspension. The rough water had turned into a full-fledged storm, where the waves were starting to overtake the boat, with no clear end in sight. If he wasn’t under the microscope after the first suspension, he was after the second.

This past June, the storm seemingly started to subside as Silva earned his first victory in three years when he defeated Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante by first-round knockout. In addition to the victory, he took home the “Knockout of the Night” and the “Fight of the Night” bonuses, which netted him $100,000 beyond his actual fight purse. Most importantly, though, he cleared any and all post-fight drug tests.

It appeared as though Silva was turning over a new leaf with that victory. However, that microscope that was hovering over him wasn’t going away anytime soon. Although the storm had appeared to be weakening, little did we know that the worst was yet to come and a monsoon was approaching.

Last week, Silva tipped the scales at 208 pounds for his light heavyweight fight against Matt Hamill. As a result, 25 percent of his purse would go to his opponent, but the fight would go on. Silva won a clear unanimous decision, but he came in heavy and fought in an ugly, sloppy fight against Hamill. Silva couldn’t even manage a finish. All anyone could really talk about afterwards is how he continues to screw up.

Three times in his last five fights, Silva has had some form of an asterisk next to his name. Altered urine sample. Marijuana. Missed weight. If just one of these things had happened over the course of his career, the collective MMA community would be able to shrug it off, saying that he made a mistake. But that they have not only happened, but have happened so frequently in his recent career is what makes him a black sheep.

When is enough really enough? Sure, having him on the UFC roster could land the promotion a great performance, like what we saw against Cavalcante. But is it worth the aggravation at this point? The promotion has let go of fighters that create headaches in the past, such as Paul Daley, Anthony Johnson and, just this past week, Rousimar Palhares.

Considering we haven’t heard that he has been released from the UFC more than a week from his performance, the Brazilian appears to be safe for now. All 20 fighters on the card he recently fought on passed their post-fight drug test, which is enough to throw a backhanded compliment his way. It would be hard to imagine that he will get another strike from the promotion’s brass at this point. Missing weight, a lackluster performance, a failed post-fight drug test, an arrest or anything else along those lines will likely result in a one-way ticket out of town.

The ship that is Silva appeared to have encountered rough waters, but the reality of it is that the water has been smooth as can be. The real problem is that Silva has been drilling holes in the bottom of the boat. The only reason that the boat is taking on water is because of his own doing. It is up to him as to whether or not the ship will stay afloat or sink. One more mess up will likely put the boat on the ocean floor.

Photo: Thiago Silva (Fernando Mucci/Olhar do fa no MMA)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.