#3 Anderson Silva used to work at McDonald's
It’s common for top athletes to have held down regular jobs before finding fame, and plenty of the UFC’s top stars are no different. Usually, you find that professional MMA fighters once worked as doormen, or were perhaps involved with their country’s police force or armed forces. However, Anderson Silva is very different.
The affable Brazilian grew up largely in poverty in Sao Paulo, living with his aunt and uncle. While he dabbled in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a youngster, before he truly entered the world of martial arts, he worked in a local McDonald's restaurant, flipping burgers for a living!
While Anderson Silva would eventually rise to the very top of the UFC – earning millions of dollars and wowing fans worldwide in the process – his background never quite left him. Prior to his UFC Middleweight title fight with Demian Maia in 2010, Silva’s manager Ed Soares revealed that ‘The Spider’ still had a taste for Big Macs, and would eat them prior to a fight.
Of course, Anderson Silva’s links to McDonald's only made his eventual sponsorship deal with Burger King more ironic. ‘The Spider’ ended up wearing the logo of McDonald's' rival on his shorts at UFC 148 when he fought Chael Sonnen – and reportedly picked up a cool $500,000 in the process.
#4 He left the Chute Boxe Academy under a black cloud
If you look back at Anderson Silva’s earlier fights, particularly those in PRIDE, you’ll see that he was once part of Brazil’s famed Chute Boxe academy. Anderson regularly had the likes of Wanderlei Silva and Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua in his corner and appeared to be well-embedded into the team.
However, once he arrived in the UFC, he was no longer part of Chute Boxe and instead was largely associated with the Nogueira brothers – former members of the Brazilian Top Team, who were once deadly rivals to Chute Boxe. So what exactly happened?
Well, Anderson Silva left the team under a pretty black cloud at some point between his PRIDE career and his move into the UFC. And to say the split was acrimonious would be an understatement.
In 2012, Silva discussed his issues with Chute Boxe in his biography, detailing clashes with one of the team’s star fighters, Jose ‘Pele’ Landi-Johns, as well as coaches Rafael Cordeiro – who he apparently considered shooting – and Rudimar Fedrigo.
And after describing Fedrigo as a “bad person”, the then-UFC Middleweight champion found himself sued by his former manager and coach, with the Chute Boxe head basically claiming Anderson Silva was ungrateful about the men who helped him in his earlier career.
As of the time of writing, no conclusion to Fedrigo’s lawsuit has been detailed – suggesting that things were either smoothed over or swept under the carpet. Either way, the breakdown of Anderson’s relations with Chute Boxe remains an interesting footnote in his legendary career.
#5 He has an extremely woke attitude towards gay athletes in MMA
MMA is usually considered one of the more progressive sports in the world when it comes to being LBQT+ friendly. The UFC – the world’s biggest promotion – has seen plenty of openly gay fighters step into the Octagon, and in 2018, history was made when two gay fighters – Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington – faced off for the UFC Bantamweight title.
However, as of the time of writing, no male UFC fighter has come out as gay, despite a number of observers – including former UFC title challenger Dan Hardy – being sure that there are definitely a number of such fighters in the promotion.
One UFC legend who clearly wouldn’t have a problem with a male fighter coming out as gay is Anderson Silva. In a fascinating 2014 interview that tackled a number of subjects – from racism to his struggles with poverty as a youngster – Silva was asked about prejudice towards homosexuals in mixed martial arts.
His answer? ‘The Spider’ stated that it’d be “silly to not express your feelings” and went onto say that he’d be happy to train alongside a gay fighter, as long as they respected him.
And in fact, Anderson Silva – who is married to his wife Dayane and has five children – has also gone on record to say that in his younger days, plenty of people thought he was gay. In another interview, Anderson stated that because he would dress up in his sister’s clothes as a child, was vain about his appearance, and had a high-pitched voice, “a lot of people were sure I was gay”.
Quite how long it’ll be before a male fighter comes out as gay is still a question mark. But judging by the attitude of Anderson Silva, they should have absolutely nothing to fear.