Longtime UFC matchmaker and vice president of talent relations Joe Silva is planning to say goodbye after the sale of the company. Silva worked with the company for more than two decades. Hardcore fans knew he was a silent, but vastly important part of the UFC machine. He’s largely responsible for the thousands of matches that led to legitimacy for the sport.
Silva has informed the UFC that he plans to exit the company soon, possibly after the end of the 2016 campaign. Silva’s exit was confirmed on Wednesday by sources close to the situation. The UFC has not made a statement regarding the news of Silva’s impending departure.
The UFC was sold for a record-breaking $4 billion to an investment group led by William Morris Endeavor and International Management Group (WME-IMG). Silva is said to be retiring in light of the sale. Other reports claim that Silva is retiring to spend some time with his family.
Silva is one of the last remnants of the UFC’s pre-Zuffa era. He was initially brought on as a consultant by original owners Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG). He has remained a major figure within the company ever since.
In recent years, Silva has served as the primary matchmaker for the lightweight divisions and above. In addition to setting up bouts, Silva also played a significant role in managing the UFC’s roster, including signing and releasing fighters. He was one of the few hires to stick through the SEG-to-Zuffa sale in 2001.
Silva is expected to transition out over the next six months. Sean Shelby, who handled matchmaking duties for the featherweight, bantamweight and flyweight divisions as well as the women’s divisions, is now expected oversee the primary functions once handled by Silva after he departs. Shelby came to the company after the WEC merger.
Silva’s exit is one of the first significant changes to occur in the UFC since the promotion was purchased. The sale of the UFC to WME-IMG was finalized just days ago. The executives of the company stand to make a significant amount of money from the deal. Silva is also believed to have profited from the sale as an executive of the company.