It’s been a very upsetting past 24-hours for Will Ribeiro supporters, as news filtered out yesterday into multiple social media networks, that Will was apparently being barred from attending the UFC 134 event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this upcoming weekend. The reason? Apparently, my new book, Desolate Warrior was to blame.
Despite the many differences between Will and his former friends and managers over at Black House MMA (Anderson Silva, Rodrigo Nogueira, Ed Soares, Jorge Guimarães, etc.), and also between myself and Dana White, I still found this news incredibly hard to believe. From a public relations standpoint alone, I not only thought that this was uncharacteristically selfish, but quite frankly, a very stupid thing for the UFC to do.
James Hill, one of Will’s biggest supporters, put it best when he said, “Are they stupid enough to do that? Hello? Attention for your book and validation of its inherent message. What is painfully obvious if this happens, is that not a single promotional person in the UFC has obviously ever read anything by P.T. Barnum—the guy who wrote the gospel on sustainable promotions. "Hey let's put a big spotlight on the elephant in the corner, by pretending it doesn't exist?" James, you need to go full-out asshole with this. They'll wish the 'dickhead' was back. But you nice guys...I'll never quite understand ya.”
I really had to wonder...who was it exactly that told Will this news, and what reasons did they give to him? Was it really the book that was to blame? Or was this just a cruel prank being played on Will by some mutual acquaintance of his now embittered former managers? After all, it wouldn’t be the first time.
For answers, I immediately went straight to my good friend and UFC writer (in Brazil), Denis Martins, who was kind enough to investigate Will’s situation for me, ranging from the initial promise that would see Will working as a side judge at the event, to the latest rumour that he was no longer welcomed inside of the building.
“They don't have Brazilian judges this time, and they don't provide VIPs or free tickets. Will can go if he has his own ticket. He’s not banned from there.”
Great news! So based on that, I think it’s very safe to say that the UFC is not to blame for making Will feel that he’s not allowed to attend the event—even if it’s just as a fan of the sport. Mind you, the UFC isn’t helping Will to be there either (my reply to Denis was: “I think the UFC should make a one-time exception to their ‘no free seats’ policy. It's only a policy—not a law. Plus, I don't think that any of the fans would complain, so the UFC wouldn't have to worry about setting a precedent”), but that’s a whole separate issue that is now solely in the hands of UFC President, Dana White.
“So then why on Earth” I asked myself, “would Will then have this painful impression that he’s not able to attend the event, especially if it’s not even true?” And that’s when it hit me...
According to Will’s brother, Wladimir, the following events transpired down in Brazil sometime around mid-July:
“I took my brother, Will Ribeiro, to the fair of Pier Mauá in Mauá Square-Rio de Janeiro. The Muay Thai master, Artur Mariano, made his event of the Brazilian Confederation of Muay Thai at Pier Mauá. Will Ribeiro is a side referee in his events. At the place, there was Ed Soares. He asked Will Ribeiro to talk, and told Will that he was very upset in regards to the book, Desolate Warrior. Then a youth came by wanting to take a photo with Will, so I went to the other side. Ed Soares stared at me in a serious way. I looked at him and asked, ‘What's the problem? Do you find me to be handsome?’ Ed replied by saying, ‘You're ugly as fuck.’ I then told him that I thought that he was a shameless coward, due to the fact that he abandoned my brother. The people in the place all asked Ed Soares to stop. Will asked me to stop also, so I did. Soon afterwards, Will asked again that I stop arguing with Ed Soares, and I agreed that it was better to keep my mouth shut because I didn't want to hinder things for my brother. Will was trying to talk to Ed Soares for him to help him with a phonoaudiologist—his voice is worsening due to his lack of a phono[audiologist]. But Ed Soares did not even let him speak. Afterwards, we left. I thought it would be better...Ed Soares has too much hatred for me, so I got worried.”
Apparently, what Will was also trying to discuss with Ed Soares (but that I did not learn until just today) was whether or not he could help to get Will a ticket for the event, however, not only did Ed refuse Will’s request, but it was there that he also made it quite clear that Will was not permitted to attend the event at all. But what I don’t understand is—what gives Ed Soares the right to deny ANYBODY access to a UFC event? Does Ed Soares now work for the UFC? Well if I understood Denis Martins correctly, Ed definitely does not speak on behalf of the UFC, and he clearly had no right to tell Will whether he could and could not go to the event.
And for the record, in my new self-published book, Desolate Warrior, I interviewed Ed for over an hour and gave him every opportunity to tell his side of the story (which I printed word-for-word in the book, right down to every last stammer and stutter), and to have the “truth” told about his involvement with Will, and particularly about Will’s older brother, Wladimir, who Ed claimed was the main reason why they all chose to no longer help Will.
It’s not my (or Will’s) fault that Ed constantly contradicted himself, which I was all too happy to point out to the readers. It’s not my (or Will’s) fault that I was able to provide concrete evidence (when you send an email, it leaves a permanent trail by the way) that Ed lied through his teeth in an attempt just to save his sorry ass. In fact, if Ed or any of Will’s former friends and managers have anyone to blame for the way in which they all came across in Desolate Warrior (like selfish, greedy fools)—it’s only themselves.
I also don’t blame Ed for being angry or embarrassed (I would be too), but it’s certainly not Will’s fault. Next time, maybe he should just try telling the truth.
Will Ribeiro (Google Translate): "I think the wrong way as they treat me just because I will not fight anymore, they left me. Ta wrong it always treated them with respect and education, never acted in bad faith with them when I was struggling yielded good dollars, I was useful, now to live a difficult phase in my life, I am disposed. I appeal to my close friends, would love to be able to go to the UFC-RIO, who can help me, just give me a call: 21-7889-7776.”
I know that Dana White and the UFC don’t want to get involved in all of this, but with only two days left, it sure would be great if someone could see fit to make an exception. Believe it or not, Will is a really great kid and if not for his accident, I am extremely confident that he would be defending his UFC Featherweight Championship in the main event (possibly against the number one contender, Jose Aldo) this weekend. By bringing attention to the life and story of Will Ribeiro, the UFC could in fact be helping millions of other people who would all find strength and inspiration from Will’s never quit attitude.
See for yourself: www.desolatewarrior.com
P.S. Hey Ed, I plan on being at the next UFC event in Toronto this December. I dare you to try to keep me out. I’m not some young kid in a wheelchair that you can just boss around.
P.S.S. Make sure you turn to page 200 of the book. I’ll be waiting anxiously for your response—tough guy!