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Nevada’s circus: Wanderlei Silva & diuretics, anti-inflammatories, and commission morality cops

By Zach Arnold | June 17, 2014

Today’s Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing was every bit the circus we thought it would be. And the UFC aired coverage of the Athletic Commission on their pay web site.

During the disciplinary hearing for one fighter in particular, it was revealed that he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance after drinking milkshakes and that he was drinking the shakes for a stronger abdomen and shoulders. To which Skip Avansino remarked that he knows from experience that drinking milkshakes is not a way to firm up your abdomen.

In regards to the “fact-finding” hearing about Wanderlei Silva not cooperating with the random blood/urine Nevada drug test, it was revealed by his representative that he was using diuretics and anti-inflammatories at the time he was asked to take the test.

“He was surprised for the first time in his career,” noted his representative at the hearing.

Wanderlei originally was going to fight on UFC’s May card but was pushed back to the July card due to a wrist injury. In a brutally-efficient presentation by both Executive Bob Bennett and the drug tester, Wanderlei Silva took a beating.

The drug collector tried to find Wanderlei Silva and initially couldn’t. The phone numbers he was given for both Mr. and Mrs. Silva were off by a digit, so the numbers he called were bad ones and disconnected. So he communicated with Bob Bennett and eventually headed to Silva’s house, where no one was home but a dog was barking. The collector eventually went to Wanderlei’s gym and meet with a person at the front desk, who led him to Wanderlei and a group of people who were eating and taking photos. The tester asked Wanderlei if he would cooperate to give a blood and urine sample and Wanderlei allegedly said he would do so. Wanderlei exited out of the gym after the tester waited around, thinking that Silva perhaps was taking a shower after the training workout.

The collector reached Mrs. Silva and tried to find Wanderlei but was told he might have been at the MGM Grand or doing media interviews. She wasn’t sure where he was. The drug collector reached out to Bob Bennett, who was at a meeting, and eventually Marc Ratner was contacted about what had happened and the rest is history.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: Boxing, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 13 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Rethinking UFC’s 50-state regulatory policy after recent athletic commission follies

By Zach Arnold | June 13, 2014

UFC fighter Diego Sanchez has benefited in the past from the score cards of round-stealing-friendly judges, just like Leonard Garcia. When Sanchez was booked against Ross Pearson in Albuquerque, New Mexico last Saturday night, your mind told you that Pearson would outpoint him but your heart told you that some way, some how, Sanchez would get a decision win and all hell would break loose.

After watching Pearson dominate Sanchez for three rounds, my first thought for Sanchez was how much longer would he be allowed to fight. Retirement. Forget the possibility of winning his fight on the cards. Sanchez is a guy who simply needs to get out of the cage before he suffers any further trauma. Gilbert Melendez pounded him in Houston and Ross Pearson simply outworked him in Albuquerque.

Then came the score cards. One judge right scored the bout 30-27 in favor of Pearson. A second judge scored the fight 29-28 in favor of Sanchez. A third judge scored the fight 30-27… in favor of Sanchez. And all hell broke loose or as much hell broke loose as possible for a lower-tier Lightweight fight. The UFC vowed to treat Pearson as if he won the fight but the damage was done. The cat calls on social media, where UFC dominates trending topics, were vociferous. Between the lousy judges and cringe-worthy officiating from Raul Porrata, New Mexico did its best to cement a reputation as one of the worst athletic commissions in the United States.

Any experienced fight fan understands that the majority of athletic commissions stink. They simply are money collectors and chaperones at events. You can count on your hand the number of competent athletic commissions in the States: Pennsylvania w/ Greg Sirb, New Jersey w/ Nick Lembo, and Tennessee w/ Jeff Mullen. You can also throw in Mike Mazzulli at Mohegan Sun. That’s it.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 7 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

With Chael Sonnen suspended, the UFC’s testosterone enabling has gone full circle; horrific spin control on FS1

By Zach Arnold | June 10, 2014

Chael Sonnen’s suspension is all the talk on Twitter

So, remember the claim that if Chael Sonnen had to get off of testosterone (anabolic steroids) that he was going to shrivel up and die?

Old habits die hard.

After going on UFC (Pravda) Tonight on Fox Sports 1 and trashing Wanderlei Silva for running away from his Nevada drug test, Chael Sonnen has reportedly failed his Nevada drug test. Does he deserve brownie points for taking his test and then failing, like Vitor Belfort did in early February?

The Vitor Belfort/Chael Sonnen match for UFC 175 in July is off. And who knows if Belfort will go through the process of getting licensed next week in Las Vegas. Brett Okamoto of ESPN has all the details here.

A couple of takeaways: 1) it’s amazing how just a “random” drug test is catching all the users, especially when the tests are done when the fighter is present in Nevada; 2) it’s amazing that the known testosterone users aren’t smart enough to avoid detection and get off the drugs; 3) if Nevada can catch guys this easy, why is this not happening in California where so many fighters reside? They’re not even testing all the fighters on cards now. And at a recent athletic inspector’s meeting in Southern California, they apparently just ran out of time to go over the drug testing issue.

Everything I said about the testosterone plague being pushed or enabled by UFC is coming back to bite Zuffa in the ass. Seriously, you didn’t need a PhD to see this coming and yet so many people in MMA have been in complete denial about what was happening. They’re now in a state of shock as to the fallout now.

As for Sonnen failing his drug test, there is a circle-of-life thing going on here. He was the kingpin behind the momentum for fighters to cry hypogonadism and a need for testosterone permission slips from athletic commissions. And the UFC was all too complicit in helping out grown, muscular men crying out at an alarming, abnormal rate that they, too, needed anabolic steroids to survive and make a living. It was Sonnen with his exploits in California that started this circle of embarrassment for MMA and basically confirmed that the industry is as dirty as horse racing.

Sonnen, Vitor, and Wanderlei getting nailed is living proof that guys are going to use testosterone whether or not they have a permission slip from an athletic commission. Getting the permission slips merely glorified the drug usage and built pressure on drug users to hit the anabolics rather than regulate an already-existing problem.

As for the Nevada State Athletic Commission, they couldn’t possibly have managed to hit upon more dumb luck. They need all the positive press these days given what Anthony Marnell III has put them through lately with his marijuana permit issues.

Update (6:30 PM EST): Fox Sports 1 just aired back-to-back interviews with Dana White and Chael Sonnen. It was the worst kind of public relations imaginable and they just inflamed a bad situation into an even worse one.

Mike Hill was put in a no-win situation interviewing both White & Sonnen. White said that MMA doesn’t have a drug problem. He went on to say that guys aren’t using testosterone but they’re using drugs to get off of testosterone. He used the Robert Mathis “fertility” excuse as to why Chael Sonnen was using some of the drugs he currently is. White blamed Chael for not disclosing his current drug usage and also blamed the Nevada State Athletic Commission for halting testosterone permission slips and not allowing for a transition period for fighters to ween off of testosterone.

Nearly seven years ago, Josh Gross wrote a famous open letter to Dana White about steroids in MMA. “This is about the truth of your product, and by pretty obvious extension, the sport.”

After babysitter Dana’s interview, here came Chael Sonnen stating that he was not using performance enhancing drugs but the rules are the rules and that if he has to choose between fatherhood and his job, he’ll choose fatherhood. At the end of the interview, Mike Hill was apologizing to Sonnen.

The response on social media to both White & Sonnen has been brutal, especially towards White. He’s being exposed and mocked for being a liar and completely out of touch. Given how much UFC leans heavily on the social media audience to support their product, today was a “jumped the shark” kind of moment.

Topics: All Topics, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 18 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

UFC information secrecy bill sent to Florida Gov. Rick Scott to sign into law

By Zach Arnold | June 7, 2014

What is the UFC trying to hide from the media in Florida by buying Governor Rick Scott’s loyalty?

Zuffa paid the man a lot of a cash for his re-election campaign against Charlie Crist. They got what they wanted:

PUBLIC RECORDS/GENERAL BILL by Regulatory Affairs Committee ; Government Operations Subcommittee ; Business and Professional Regulation Subcommittee ; Hutson

Pub. Rec./Florida State Boxing Commission; Provides exemption from public records requirements for proprietary confidential business information in reports required to be filed with Florida State Boxing Commission by promoter or obtained by commission through audit of promoter’s records; defines term “proprietary confidential business information”; provides for future legislative review & repeal of exemption; provides statement of public necessity; provides for contingent effect.

Here is the official bill text as constituted…

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: Florida, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 10 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Nevada State Athletic Commission board member granted marijuana permit despite Gaming Commission protest

By Zach Arnold | June 6, 2014

On March 5th, we wrote about the saga of M Resort CEO Anthony Marnell, a current board member for the Nevada State Athletic Commission. He was appointed to the NSAC by Governor Brian Sandoval. In one conflict of interest, the Athletic Commission approved future MMA dates at casino properties that Marnell is involved in.

Marnell then turned around and applied for a medical marijuana license from Clark County, Nevada when the county started testing the waters for approval of a select few permits.

Marnell was one of many major Las Vegas business players who applied for a medical marijuana license. The Nevada Gaming Commission was absolutely pissed. Marnell found himself in front of the Gaming Commission, having to explain why someone with a gaming license applied a medical marijuana permit. Marnell reportedly owns 71% of Clear River LLC, which applied for the permit. According to the Nevada Secretary of State’s web site, Marnell is/was considered an “inactive” officer. Not so much now. His partner in Clear River LLC is Robert R. Black.

Which brings us to Friday’s events where Clark County announced the winners of 18 medical marijuana permits. On the list was Clear River LLC. Anthony Marnell now has a medical marijuana permit despite the Nevada Gaming Commission telling him to back off. Marnell still is on the Nevada State Athletic Commission board. What we are now witnessing is a high-stakes, high-profile game of chicken where someone is going to blink and follow the money. Marnell being a public face of this battle is a big deal.

This situation puts the Athletic Commission and the AG’s office in a public relations pickle. Keith Kizer, who resigned as the Executive Director of the Athletic Commission, is now essentially the AC’s lawyer along with Christopher Eccles.

The timing could not be worse for the Athletic Commission. The AC has slammed fighters hard in the past who had tested positive for marijuana metabolites and yet gave out testosterone passes. Earlier this week, Joe Rogan admitted that Vitor Belfort failed an early February drug test for elevated levels of testosterone. On Friday, Belfort released documentation related to that failed drug test. The incident cost Belfort a chance to fight Chris Weidman in May for the UFC Middleweight title. However, Wanderlei Silva allegedly refused to comply with an out-of-competition NSAC drug test and won’t be fighting Chael Sonnen. The UFC, in turn, is now publicly encouraging the Athletic Commission to grant Belfort a license to fight Sonnen in July just four months after his failed out-of-competition drug test.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 1 Comment » | Permalink | Trackback |

Fight Opinion Radio: Steve Kim on mutual assured destruction between Oscar De La Hoya & Richard Schaefer

By Zach Arnold | June 5, 2014

Richard Schaefer, former CEO of Golden Boy

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Time length of this week’s show: 34 minutes (16 MB MP3)

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Continue reading this article here…

Topics: Boxing, Fight Opinion Radio, Jeff Thaler, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold, podcasts | 7 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

A look at a very busy June 2014 MMA fight schedule & card slate

By Zach Arnold | June 2, 2014

Event: Bellator 121 (Friday, June 6th at Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma)
TV: Spike TV

Event: UFC Fight Night (Saturday, June 7th at Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque)
TV: Fox Sports 1

Event: UFC 174 (Saturday, June 14th, Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., Canada)
TV: Fox Sports 1/PPV

Event: UFC Fight Night (Saturday, June 28th at Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand)
TV: Internet

Event: UFC Fight Night (Saturday, June 28th at the AT & T Center in San Antonio, Texas)
TV: Fox Sports 1

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 17 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Verdict on first UFC double-header: insufferably long

By Zach Arnold | May 31, 2014

Results from the main fights on Saturday…

Berlin card at O2 World Arena (8,000 in attendance)

Sao Paulo card at Ibirapuera Arena (sparsely attended at beginning, quiet at the end):

Fabio Maldonaldo looked like he wanted no part being in the cage with Stipe Miocic and it showed. Very soft as a small heavyweight and the second he got tagged by Miocic, he was backtracking. A clean right and Maldonaldo was done.

Antonio Carlos Junior won his TUF Heavyweight fight and the yellow “Team Wanderlei” shirt was the only reference to Wanderlei at all during the program tonight. Chael Sonnen was in the audience. Mixed reaction, at best, from the tired and fatigued Brazilian crowd.

Demian Maia had full mount for the majority of his fight and did nothing with it.

The UFC sent the wrong mat canvas to their Berlin event. They’re running so many shows, nobody can keep track of what is going on. Perfect symbolism.

Today was the first time that I saw advertising on TV for UFC 164 (the mystery Vancouver PPV headlined in two weeks by Demetrious Johnson). I feel very badly for DJ in terms of the promotional end of the stick. I have serious doubts that this card can draw over 125,000 PPV buys. That is extremely low for UFC but I think it is an entirely possible scenario.

The UFC and Bellator will be going head-to-head on Friday night in early September in Connecticut. UFC FS1 event from Foxwoods and Bellator at their strong-hold in Mohegan Sun. The Mohegan Sun events genuinely bring the best energy of all the Bellator crowds. If UFC is going to run more cards head-to-head against Bellator, that will be quite a statement of paranoia.

The boxing two-step with Felix Sturm losing and Carl Froch beating George Groves was more interesting to watch.

Topics: Brazil, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 9 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

The minor shake-up at DCA & impending 2015 shake-up at California State Athletic Commission

By Zach Arnold | May 30, 2014

Another day, more turmoil.

Yesterday came word that figurehead Denise Brown, a Sacramento lifer, was on her way out via retirement at the Department of Consumer Affairs. DCA is the monstrous government behemoth that controls many agencies in California. She was able to pad her retirement benefits by hanging around for a few years. And now her hatchet-man, Awet Kidane, is taking over.

Awet Kidane, 38, of Elk Grove, has been appointed director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs effective July 3, 2014, following the retirement of director Denise Brown. Kidane has served as chief deputy director at the California Department of Consumer Affairs since 2012. He was chief of staff for California State Assemblymember Steven Bradford from 2009 to 2012 and senior advisor to California State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass from 2008 to 2009. Kidane served as a legislative consultant for the California State Assembly from 2003 to 2009, where he was an associate consultant from 2002 to 2003. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $148,836. Kidane is a Democrat.

Tracy Rhine, 42, of El Dorado, has been appointed chief deputy director at the California Department of Consumer Affairs, where she has served as deputy director of legislative and policy review since 2012. Rhine served in multiple positions at the California Board of Behavioral Sciences from 2008 to 2012, including assistant executive officer and legislative analyst. She was a consultant for the California State Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection from 2005 to 2008 and consultant for the California State Assembly Speaker’s Office of Member Services from 2002 to 2005. Rhine was a graduate research assistant in Governor Gray Davis’ Office of Innovation in 2002. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $132,528. Rhine is a Democrat.

In the grand scheme of things, not a lot will change at the Athletic Commission as a result of Kidane getting promoted. He was already doing a lot of the dirty work for Denise Brown. The only difference is Kidane is now the face of DCA. He’s the target. The dossier on him is that he hates bad press. Really hates it. One way he can avoid bad press is by doing his job professionally and that includes cleaning up the festering mess of problems at the Athletic Commission.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 1 Comment » | Permalink | Trackback |

The UFC, Nevada State Athletic Commission, and Wanderlei Silva’s future

By Zach Arnold | May 28, 2014

Over the past couple of months, Chael Sonnen went through a Nevada hearing to get cleared to fight because he’s over the age of 35. This is standard operating procedure. Dan Henderson did the same thing. Mysteriously, Wanderlei Silva did not. His name has not been on any Nevada meeting agendas.

Nevada will have a meeting on June 17th. Here’s the kicker: Vitor Belfort will have a license hearing that day to replace Wanderlei Silva as Chael Sonnen’s opponent for the July UFC event in Las Vegas. And yet the same commission & promoter is not allowing Wanderlei Silva to get paperwork prepared before that same June 17th meeting?

Remember the context here for the UFC event in July: Chris Weidman was supposed to fight Vitor Belfort in May. Then came the avalanche of negative press coverage (listen to our recent interview with Josh Gross on this topic) about the testosterone plague in UFC and the reversal on testosterone passes. Lyoto Machida is named as the replacement for Belfort to fight Weidman in May. Weidman injures his knee and the fight is pushed to July. Vitor lost his title shot and had a drug testing issue with Nevada. He wasn’t licensed.

Six months after that licensing issue, here comes Vitor back to Nevada to fight on a card where he originally was going to get a title shot against Weidman. Instead, Vitor will now fight Chael Sonnen in the ultimate testosterone death match at 205 pounds. And Wanderlei Silva, who needed to be approved to fight Sonnen because he’s over 35, won’t be approved by the same commission that is about to approve Vitor?

On FS1 Pravda (UFC Tonight), Chael Sonnen “broke” the news of opponent change. Sonnen claimed that Wanderlei Silva ran away from taking a Nevada drug test at his “gym” and that Wanderlei’s UFC career is finished. Sonnen vs. Vitor will be a #1 challenger’s match to face the winner of Weidman/Machida.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 12 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Seven fight stories we’re watching that might interest you

By Zach Arnold | May 28, 2014

1. The fallout from The Desert Sun’s articles on Angel Osuna & the California State Athletic Commission

If you missed the requisite reading material, start here. Then go here. Then read our response.

The Desert Sun is part of the Gannett media family. They have tentacles to other newspapers in California and the rest of the country. Enterprising newspaper editors looking for a human interest/health & safety story that is compelling will pick up on the articles. The backlash against Consumer Affairs management is justified.

There is a reason to amend the Business & Professions Code to assist event promoters in buying an additional, catastrophic insurance policy with a $50,000 deductible to help protect financially-vulnerable fighters who will be forced to declare bankruptcy when they can’t pay mounting medical bills due to a serious injury.

An alternative solution, if cheaper for promoters than purchasing catastrophic insurance policies, could involve linking up fighters to California’s quasi-public State Compensation Insurance Fund.

Awet Kidane at Consumer Affairs has a choice. He can be a hero by lobbying for a new catastrophic insurance requirement or he can be a political goat.

2. Cole Miller is one of many fighters who do not want to fight in California again.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: Bellator, Boxing, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 7 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Taxpayers stuck with massive medical bills due to inadequate fighter insurance in California

By Zach Arnold | May 26, 2014

To read our previous articles on the California State Athletic Commission, CLICK HERE.

December 13th, 2013 is proving to be one of the uglier days in the history of the California State Athletic Commission.

In the afternoon of Friday the 13th, a document dump on the Athletic Commission’s web site site revealed a temporary suspension for boxing manager/trainer Rodrigo Mosquera. Mosquera, along with one of his fighters, was suspended due to altered gloves being confiscated at a September boxing show promoted by Ed Holmes/All Star Boxing at Quiet Cannon in Montebello. On the same day that the temporary suspension was announced, athletic inspectors working the Golden Boy boxing event at Fantasy Springs (resort & casino) in Indio, California renewed Mosquera’s license. Mosquera would stay active until his meeting in front of the Athletic Commission last February. To top it off, Executive Officer Andy Foster recommended that Mosquera be given time served and continue his licensed duties. The Athletic Commission then proceeded to throw the book at Mosquera (and rightfully so).

At that same December 13th event at Fantasy Springs, boxer Angel Osuna was on his way to winning a 10 round fight. However, a freak accident involving a slip to the timekeeper’s table caused a subdural hematoma. Osuna was taken to a local hospital and underwent a craniotomy. He suffered some strokes. He has brain damage. Osuna also owes over a million dollars in medical bills.

The Desert Sun, which is the newspaper of Palm Springs, had a lengthy article on Osuna’s injuries and the role of the Athletic Commission. It is a gut-wrenching article to read. For the casual fight fan who doesn’t know the inner workings of Sacramento, it is heartbreaking and dispiriting to read. For those of us who know how things work at Consumer Affairs in Sacramento, the article is infuriating to read. The newspaper is so disgusted with what is happening in Sacramento that they published a second front-page article (on Monday) laying out the many ways the Athletic Commission has failed the fighters. None of the information is particularly new to Fight Opinion readers, but the readers of the Desert Sun are in for a big surprise.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, Zach Arnold | 3 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

You won’t have to write any more “Renan Barao can’t draw as UFC champion” articles

By Zach Arnold | May 24, 2014

Event: UFC 173 on Saturday, May 24th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Fox Sports 1/PPV

We will now see the re-match between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson on August 30th in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Will we see TJ Dillashaw vs. Dominick Cruz next?

Dana White says that Vitor Belfort wasn’t and isn’t a drug cheater.

Next week is the start of UFC double-headers, a beginning of a trend for the promotion in 2014.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 8 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

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