It’s February 2011, and I had already had a rather hectic last few months. First, I caught malaria (there have only been, like, 12 cases in the state of Rio in the last 20 years). It took a while until I got diagnosed correctly. Next thing I know, my son Bryan walks out into the rainforest and disappears. It took 60 men, two teams of dogs and a helicopter to find him. Then, a few weeks later, my home town of Nova Friburgo suffers the worst natural disaster in Brazilian history, when the region gets hit by nearly 16 inches of rain in 24 hours, causing multiple landslides and killing thousands.
So this is the backdrop as I head into “Bigfoot” vs. Fedor Emelianenko at Strikeforce, which was the biggest fight I had managed up to that point in my career. Based on my experiences over the previous few months, I probably should have known it would not be as easy as simply getting my guy up into the ring to fight!
Antonio Silva, best known as “Bigfoot,” has acromegaly, caused by a cyst on the pituitary gland. He is really at no greater or lesser risk of any brain injury than any other fighter. But the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board was doubly careful and made “Bigfoot” test for pretty much everything except rabies. With all the added scrutiny, “Bigfoot” was understandably very antsy as the fight was nearing, but we had no choice. I had to make him go through a multitude of extra tests if he wanted to compete.
So eventually, the New Jersey commission requests a special MRI. “Bigfoot” grumpily goes to have it done, and as he is coming back home, I get a call from the clinic saying he has to go back and do it again because he must have moved inside the MRI machine and some of the images get blurred. I call “Bigfoot” and tell him, and he hangs up on me and immediately stops responding to me.
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