Posted July 21, 2015 by Sydnie Jones in Editorials

The Blackzilian Way: How to Abuse Women and Not Alienate People

Guest contributor pdlmma uses Twitter as a platform to offer a dissenting voice to the combat sports fanbase. His goal is to hold the MMA industry, fighters, and promotions accountable for the culture they create and the real world effects it has on others.

The case of Blackzilian fighter Thiago Silva is a documented look at domestic abuse. In February of 2014 Silva was facing charges including felony attempted murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in Broward County, Florida. Police records show Silva’s violent texts sent to his ex-wife including “I am gonna f–k you up and you are going to die. I am going to hire someone to kill you and I am gonna move my girlfriend in.” She later uploaded video of a heated scene where Silva restrains her while carrying a firearm in his pocket. He’s alleged to have threatened to murder his ex-wife while holding a gun in her mouth.

He is not alone.

Thiago Silva’s mugshot

The Blackzilians team is rife with chronicled accusations and guilty pleas of violence against women. This is not a controversial assertion by any means – police record show it to be fact. Alistair Overeem, who was with the team from 2012 to 2014, assaulted a woman in Las Vegas with his lawyer getting him leniency via a plea deal. Abel Trujilo has admitted guilt in multiple counts of domestic abuse causing bodily injury to the mother of his child. Anthony Johnson pleaded no contest to domestic violence in 2009, allegedly struck, stalked, and has friends continuing to harass the mother of his children since 2012, and yet another incident with a third woman in March of 2014. Michael Johnson (no relation) was arrested during a domestic dispute and charged with battery in April of 2014.

You’ll find no shows of contrition from these men. “Some situation may come up and you’re drawn into it and suddenly it’s world news,” explained Overeem after reaching a plea deal. Anthony Johnson took to Facebook as his 2012 allegations surfaced to proclaim, “the shit ppl will say and the lengths ppl will go just to tell a Fucking lie is ridiculous.“ His lawyer issued a statement reading “Anthony categorically denies all allegations and looks forward to his court date in the civil matter, where the truth and lies will be established.” When MMA Junkie reached him for comment on the 2014 incident he texted back “…I don’t believe she said that cuz we talk everyday and great friends.” Thiago Silva insisted “everything she said was a lie” when interviewed by Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour. Again and again, these men refuse the idea that their violence was anything but a misunderstanding or malicious fabrication.

While the allegations against these men are shocking, their consistent dismissal of the behavior and their portrayal of women as liars indicates the abuse runs deeper. The repeated abuse of women relies on a support structure they’ve built together. The Blackzilians are a network more than willing to create a toxic culture and protect serial abusers.

Blackzilians athlete and UFC fighter Eddie Alvarez spoke in support of Thiago Silva, saying, “every once in awhile we all get a bad hand dealt to us. He got a bad hand dealt to him. He went through it and came out unstained and successful.” And: “He’s a hell of a guy. It doesn’t shock me that things went the way they went, that he came out unscathed.”

Fellow Blackzilian Matt Mitrione said the following during his post-fight speech at UFC Fight Night in Connecticut. “Thanks a lot, Dana White and the UFC, for bringing back Thiago Silva. Great thing. I’m glad to see you back, brother.”

Blackzilians coach and former UFC fighter Jorge Santiago echoed the same sentiment. “Having him around is great,” Santiago said. “He brings energy. It’s contagious.”

Anthony Johnson, convicted domestic abuser

Glenn Robinson, manager of many Blackzilian fighters, owner of the sponsor company Jaco, and organizer of the gym itself, declined to comment on the situations that Silva and Johnson were in. That ‘no comment’ is not exculpatory. Silva was kept around the gym as a kickboxing instructor while still wearing an ankle monitor. The Blackzilians official Instagram account was quick to promote Silva’s new UFC contract, tagging Robinson in the post. Thiago Silva’s ex-wife and alleged victim claims that his manager, the aforementioned Robinson, “paid a lot of money for (Silva’s) defense and coerced me.”

No one would argue that the goal of the Blackzilians is to abuse women. However, the gym has supported the actions of abusers, creating a culture that normalizes and excuses violence against women.

At the time of publishing, none of the 39 athletes and coaches listed on the Blackzilians website are women.

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Sydnie Jones