In some ways Michael Bisping and Kelvin Gastelum should be thanking Anderson Silva. They should be thanking him for being one of the icons and early superstars of MMA, and therefore bringing the sport to mainstream attention, and they should also be thanking him because Silva’s latest misstep, his second failed drug test, has allowed the two of them, Bisping and Gastelum, the opportunity to meet at November 25 in Shanghai, China.
Due to the nature of this turn of events, however, Bisping and Gastelum have zero appreciation for the 42-year-old Brazilian, much less admiration. Gone, it seems, are the days of those in MMA, be it fighter or fan, looking at ‘The Spider’ all dewy-eyed and slack-jawed, inspired by his mere presence. Instead, the majority now view Silva the way they’d analyze a fake designer handbag forced upon them by a street merchant. They look it up and down, feel it, check for signs of authenticity, and then ultimately frown with suspicion.
“It’s not like I dislike Anderson or I like him, I just feel indifferent about him,” said Gastelum ahead of Saturday’s fight with Bisping. “To me, it wasn’t surprising that he got caught, so we’ve just got to move on with the show. I feel like he definitely tarnished his legacy with this and it is what it is. The show must go on.”
If Gastelum is somewhat reserved and diplomatic in his approach, the same cannot be said for Bisping. Ever outspoken, the Englishman, who was UFC middleweight champion less than a month ago, claims he was disgusted by the news that Silva had once again failed a drug test, even if this latest indiscretion allowed ‘The Count’ to fill in and attempt to eradicate the ghosts from his November 4 defeat to Georges St-Pierre.
“He completely destroyed his legacy, in my opinion,” said Bisping, who scored a decision win over Silva in February 2016. “There are a lot of people that have short memories and they’ll just remember his performances. His performances were great, but if you test positive for steroids twice… once and you could try and talk your way out of it, but twice and I think the nail’s in the coffin. The guy was a cheat and it’s a shame. It’s really, really disappointing. I was a huge fan of Anderson Silva. It’s just disappointing and it’s a black eye for sport of MMA.”