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Gym Rescues, Skullbusters, and the value of classic fights

By Zach Arnold | August 11, 2014

It is very interesting to watch WWE take shots at UFC’s programming value by essentially declaring that the repeat value of a pro-wrestling match is much more significant than the repeat value of watching an old UFC or boxing fight. I don’t doubt the power of watching old wrestling classics. I think a lot more of today’s wrestlers should be involved in tape study.

However, WWE is underestimating somewhat the value of re-airing old MMA and boxing fights. The Tuesday Night Fights re-branding lives on two decade after the franchise was ended by USA Network. Watch a Regional Sports Network and you’re bound to see some old Tuesday Fight Nights material. The same with boxing matches from the last few years. The UFC has turned the art of re-airing old fights into a cottage industry with the shows they aired on Spike and now on Fox Sports 1. Their DVD business isn’t hot but DVD biz isn’t solid unless you’re like Netflix. Fight Pass has done steady numbers so far, although fee increases in the future will sap the subscriber numbers. For all of the power of WWE’s tape archives, their Network subscriber numbers have reached a ceiling of around 700,000. The only hope they have is through international growth.

There is one thing that is not in doubt, however, and that is the appeal of combat sports mega stars in the television and movie business. The Rock is what everyone, including Ronda Rousey, aspires to be. Dave Batista. And you can certainly add Steve Austin and Randy Couture to that list.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, WWE, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Discovery motions will name informants, witnesses in alleged extortion of California State Athletic Commission

By Zach Arnold | August 8, 2014

There was a media circus Thursday afternoon in San Francisco at the District Court with a flood of status conference hearings involving California state senator Leland Yee, Chinatown figure Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, Yee’s fundraising consultant Keith Jackson, and about 25 other individuals who were named in a superseding Federal indictment relating to all sorts of allegations from extortion to transferring ballistic missiles. Not exactly your garden variety criminal case.

Despite a gag order being enforced on both the prosecution & defense teams, there was quite a bit of procedural news that came out of Thursday’s court sessions. First, prosecutors are confident that many of the defendants will agree to plea deals and turn State’s evidence against the biggest fish in the case. The LA Times notes that there will be several trials involving the defendants rather than one large circus.

“Breyer concurred Thursday that the case must be split but postponed the decision until after all evidence is turned over and sensitive issues involving the wiretaps and identities of informants and agents are resolved.”

Let the discovery motions begin.

There will be a court hearing on Monday discussing wiretap evidence and it is expected that this evidence will be turned over to defense lawyers by the end of the month. The next court date after Monday’s meeting is expected to happen on November 12th, 2014.

There’s also a twist in the case: one of the FBI’s undercover agents was yanked from the Federal investigation due to allegations of $ misconduct. You don’t say.

Given Yee’s high-profile name and the interest in the case, there’s a pretty strong possibility that we will find out soon who exactly the Feds claim was targeted for extortion. Everyone wants to know who the Feds claim Yee & his fundraiser Keith Jackson were extorting in regards to an NFL team owner and individuals who wanted to keep the California State Athletic Commission alive.

Until this information is released via the courts, no proclamations can be made as to which individuals were allegedly extorted, who may be unindicted co-conspirators, and who may have been working for the Feds as informants. It would be reckless to make declarations right now when we don’t know all the facts of the case.

Given the fact that nobody on the outside-looking-in knows who was exactly targeted, there is only so much investigating you can do. However, the motive in the Federal indictment is very clear: money. We have been scouring through lobbyist disclosure records, political contribution records, and publicly-listed business relationships to try to figure out why Leland Yee & Keith Jackson allegedly thought they could score cash & connections from individuals who wanted to keep the Athletic Commission alive.

And this led us to carefully re-watch the video of a state senate committee meeting from April 29th, 2013 regarding SB309 — the bill that would extend the life of the Athletic Commission by two years. And given the claims made in the superseding Federal indictment, what we watched on video has raised some new & very intriguing questions.

Continue reading this article here…

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

There’s a third person who may have been allegedly extorted by Leland Yee over CSAC

By Zach Arnold | August 6, 2014

On July 29th, we wrote about a superseding Federal indictment in San Francisco naming disgraced California state senator Leland Yee, Yee’s fundraising consultant Keith Jackson, and famous Chinatown mobster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow. One of the allegations in that Federal indictment is that both Yee & Jackson tried to extort money out of multiple individuals who wanted to make sure that the California State Athletic Commission was not sunsetted. Sunsetting the Athletic Commission would have allowed the Department of Consumer Affairs to regulate combat sports in hiding with zero transparency. This isn’t something that DCA would be unhappy about.

The indictment claimed that individuals related to CSAC and “the Mixed Martial Arts industry” were targeted by Yee & Jackson for extortion. Naturally, the next question we asked was whether or not the UFC was the target of the supposed shakedown. After all, the Fertitta Empire contributes a lot of money to California politicians and to Sacramento lobbying firm Platinum Advisors LLC for legislative affairs regarding the Athletic Commission, internet gambling, and tribal casinos. There are monied interests at stake.

The indictment from a grand jury relating to the Athletic Commission is based on Individuals A & B being allegedly approached by both Leland Yee & Keith Jackson in early March of 2013. The indictment claims that Yee was directing Jackson to solicit money from A & B to Keith Jackson Consultancy and to also solicit campaign contributions for Yee’s Secretary of State bid. The indictment was specific in noting that the Athletic Commission regulates “Ultimate Fight Championships.” UFC was the only promoter directly named for CSAC regulation.

In any sort of criminal indictment involving allegations of extortion, follow the money. That’s what we initially tried to do despite the fact that the indictment alleges that the individuals being extorted were supposedly told to pay Jackson rather than make a direct contribution to Yee initially. In our initial search of California contribution records, we discovered that Station Casinos LLC donated $1,500 to Leland Yee’s Secretary of State campaign in December of 2013. The Federal indictment claims that Yee’s extortion campaign over CSAC was from March of 2013 through December of 2013. Nine months.

As we soon discovered (in our August 2nd article), Leland Yee was gifted tickets by the UFC for their April 20, 2013 San Jose Arena event. This event took place nine days before an April 29th, 2013 Sacramento state senate meeting to discuss SB309, the Athletic Commission extension bill. The Federal indictment claims that Yee and Jackson were telling individuals A & B that he wasn’t going to vote for SB309 unless Jackson was supposedly paid for “heavy lifting.” At that April 29th, 2013 senate meeting, Yee wasn’t singing the praises of the Athletic Commission… but he was curiously singing the praises of Andy Foster.

After seeing this display of support, we decided to re-read the superseding Federal indictment one more time to make sure that we didn’t miss anything. It turns out that reading the indictment again has given us a new… perspective on how many people may have been supposedly targeted.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: CSAC, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | No Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

What jurisdiction does Nevada have over Chael Sonnen in a submission grappling tournament?

By Zach Arnold | August 4, 2014

Nevada thinks they can fine Chael Sonnen $250,000 for competing at Metamoris.

Question: Why are they threatening this now when his booking for Metamoris was known when the meeting commenced to give him a two year ban?

Submission grappling is not regulated by athletic commissions. Dave Meltzer recently suggested that it should. But it currently is not. Any attempt by an athletic commission to stop a fighter from an activity that is not regulated by an athletic commission is begging for a lawsuit.

This is the classic case of an athletic commission with major image problems on the drug front now trying to bluff and over-step their bounds against a licensee. Even if Metamoris was an activity regulated by the California State Athletic Commission, it’s not MMA or boxing. The California State Athletic Commission collects money from WWE events but doesn’t actually regulate pro-wrestling. By Nevada’s standards, does this mean that if Sonnen went into WWE that he is somehow violating his two year ban in Nevada? What’s the difference between submission grappling and professional wrestling?

Basically what we have here is a threat from Nevada that whatever they do to Sonnen will be accepted by other state athletic commissions because somehow Nevada is the gold standard.

Timing is everything in life. Two days after the Brandon Rios/Diego Chaves debacle at the Cosmopolitan, we had a brawl with Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. And Kirk Hendrick gave a stern statement.

Exit remark: If Sonnen has to go to court in Nevada over any fines by the Athletic Commission, guess who’s going tor represent NSAC? The Attorney General’s office, which is next door to the Athletic Commission. Guess who is one of the lawyers? Keith Kizer.

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

Your monthly reminder of four new UFC cards (August 2014 edition)

By Zach Arnold | August 4, 2014

Event: UFC Fight Night on Saturday, August 16th in Bangor, Maine at Cross Insurance Center
TV: Fox Sports 1

Event: UFC Fight Night on Saturday, August 23rd at the Macao Venetian (Cotai Arena)
TV: Internet

Event: UFC Fight Night on Saturday, August 23rd in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the BOK Center
TV: Fox Sports 1

Event: UFC 177 on Saturday, August 30th in Sacramento at Arco Arena
TV: Fox Sports 1/PPV

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

An audio guide to the week that was the Federal indictment alleging extortion of California State Athletic Commission

By Zach Arnold | August 3, 2014

We wanted to create an audio summary for our readers to clear up any confusion about what last week’s Federal indictment (read it on the LA Times web site) involving disgraced California state senator Leland Yee means for fans who care about the regulation of combat sports.

The revised indictment in San Francisco alleges that Yee and his fundraising consultant Keith Jackson extorted individuals who were interested in keeping the California State Athletic Commission from being sunsetted into hiding under the auspices of the Department of Consumer Affairs. And the politicians being accused of extortion supposedly had ties to Chinatown mobsters.

It sounds like a remix of the movie Big Trouble in Little China. We wrote three articles about the indictment.

Given the serious nature of the indictment, Jeff Thaler (@whaledog on Twitter) & I decided to do a Fight Opinion Radio show to break down the legalese. Jeff’s a lawyer and combat sports guru, which makes him the perfect person to explain in layman’s terms what the hell is going on.

Listen to our audio summary on the Federal indictment regarding the alleged extortion of the California State Athletic Commission. 37 minutes long, 17 MB file size. The direct download link is:

Who are the key players in the Federal indictment? What would have happened if Leland Yee, running for Secretary of State in California, had not been arrested?

There will be substantial media interest in the revised indictment against Yee given that the indictment alleges a pay-for-play scenario with an anonymous NFL team owner to make sure that football players couldn’t apply for worker’s compensation in California. Because of this strong sports tie-in, we’re relatively confident that information regarding the Athletic Commission will surface.

The indictment reads like a mafia movie plot. What’s most interesting is that the indictment names all sorts of Undercover agents as informants but on the allegations regarding CSAC, we have Individuals A & B. How did those individuals end up being discovered by the Feds? Did they volunteer to talk to the Feds or did the Feds catch them during the alleged extortion process with wiretaps? Furthermore, if money allegedly changed hands between the Individuals and Yee/Jackson, whose money was used? Was it state money?

What happens if Yee & Jackson agree to a plea deal with the Feds? Will we find out who Individuals A & B are? What about a Pitchess motion for discovery or Brady disclosures?

What’s next for Andy Foster? The Florida Boxing Commission job was quietly filled behind the scenes by top DBPR attorney Paul Waters, replacing state auditor Cynthia Hefren. With no real major commission jobs open, ongoing DCA audits, and a Federal probe ongoing, how much stress & pressure is there on Andy to keep doing his job?

There are so many unanswered questions right now and this is the time to use some elbow grease to do some legitimate investigative work. I’m fairly confident that if several combat sports writers starting digging into this story that there is real news to be discovered for public consumption.

You can receive notifications about our latest audio shows any time by subscribing to our Feedburner link in your favorite podcasting program. We’ve had a really good streak of shows since returning from a five year hiatus. Lots of thought-provoking conversation to check out.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Fight Opinion Radio, Jeff Thaler, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold, podcasts | No Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Indicted senator Leland Yee was gifted tickets by UFC during time of alleged extortion of California State Athletic Commission

By Zach Arnold | August 2, 2014

You may not be hearing much from other combat sports writers about the Federal indictment of California state senator Leland Yee and his supposed Chinatown mobster friend Shrimp Boy. But the updated Federal indictment from last week can be read by anyone. It’s a lengthy document, but you don’t have to be a lawyer to understand the charges being levied.

Any time you have a boxing manager being accused by the Feds of murder for hire, it’s worth a read.

When the Feds alleged that Leland Yee and his fundraising consultant Keith Jackson were allegedly extorting individuals wanting to keep the California State Athletic Commission from being sunsetted, the obvious first question everyone asked: who was targeted supposedly for extortion? The indictment lists Individuals A & B, although there could be more individuals. Nobody knows at this point in time. What made the indictment chilling was the fact that the timeline supposedly started from March of 2013 until the end of that calendar year. Andy Foster became the Executive Officer in November of 2012 and CSAC was allegedly a target for extortion a few months later.

From the indictment:

“Extorting individuals related to the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) and the Mixed Martial Arts industry regarding retaining the existence of the CSAC and its ability to regulate certain sports in California.”

Who from the MMA industry? We don’t know. But this line from the indictment struck us as odd:

The CSAC exercised licensing, regulatory, and disciplinary functions in connection with the operation of certain sports in California, including boxing, kickboxing, mixed martial arts, and Ultimate Fight Championship events. Without the extension provided for in SB309, the CSAC would become inoperative on January 1, 2014.

This led us to ask whether or not the UFC was the victim of a shakedown campaign. In my opinion, trying to extort the UFC is a foolish move. Especially if you are someone running for a state, not federal office. Excluding their efforts in New York, the UFC has a slick lobbying operation that has proven to be highly successful in states like California & Florida. They spread the wealth around legally with political contributions.

Lobbying data from Platinum Advisors LLC filings on CA Sec. of State web site

The indictment claims that Leland Yee, through consultant Keith Jackson, was allegedly asking Individuals A & B give money to Jackson in March of 2013 for his lobbying services and that there supposedly would be a scheme to rope in other promoters to contribute cash to Yee’s Secretary of State campaign. Theoretically, it’s much harder to publicly track money given to a consultant as opposed to making a political donation directly to a campaign.

Nonetheless, it’s important for reporters covering this indictment to follow the money even if the data is limited.

Continue reading this article here…

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

Was UFC the target of a shakedown by alleged Chinatown mob-linked pol over California State Athletic Commission?

By Zach Arnold | July 30, 2014

Yesterday was one of those days. Really. The kind of day where you write an article titled Feds allege Chinatown mob-linked pol extorted California State Athletic Commission for $. And you sit there and wonder about all of the unanswered questions. One can only imagine what it must be like right now to be on the inside of Consumer Affairs with a Federal indictment going public with such alarming allegations.

If you haven’t read our Tuesday article yet, go read it before you continue reading this article.

To catch up on what we wrote about yesterday: Disgraced California state senator Leland Yee, who had aspirations of becoming California’s next Secretary of State, was indicted by the Feds on a million different counts and those counts also involve high-profile members of the most powerful criminal organization in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Included in the indictment are allegations that Yee, along with his fundraising/consulting buddy Keith Jackson, supposedly extorted money from individuals who were trying to ensure passage in the state Senate of SB309, a bill that would prevent the California State Athletic Commission from getting sunsetted. CSAC getting sunsetted would have meant that Consumer Affairs would have taken all of their operations in-house with zero public disclosure and no transparency whatsoever.

The indictment claims that Yee and Jackson had meetings with two different people, Individuals A & B, who were looking to get the votes in the state Senate to keep CSAC up-and-running. The timing is important here. Andy Foster became the Executive Officer in November of 2012. The indictment claims that Yee and Jackson interacted with A & B in March of 2013. It seems likely that A & B will end up as witnesses for the major show trial involving Yee. Yee claims that he “did a number” on Individual A. Was Individual A really Andy Foster or someone from Consumer Affairs?

Let’s advance the story here from yesterday’s summary. In the Federal indictment, Yee is accused of a conspiracy to obtain property under the color of office. The filing claims that Yee & Jackson, from the time period of March 2013 through the end of December 2013, allegedly manipulated individuals who were trying to keep CSAC alive.

Continue reading this article here…

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

Feds allege Chinatown mob-linked pol extorted California State Athletic Commission for $

By Zach Arnold | July 29, 2014

Meet my little friend, Shrimp Boy.

In California political circles, the name of state senator Leland Yee sends chills down the spines of many. Yee, who was running for Secretary of State and was considered a very reliable Democratic state senator, got indicted on a million different charges in relation to various business dealings. And many of those dealings allegedly involve top members of Chinatown’s most powerful criminal organization.

It is shocking, given the gravity of the charges, how little national attention the indictment of Yee and Chinatown mobsters have gotten. However, it is the biggest California political scandal in decades and will produce the show trial of all show trials in Northern California.

And part of that updated indictment against Yee and Shrimp Boy last week includes allegations from the Feds that Leland Yee extorted the California State Athletic Commission in order to prevent the commission from getting sunset by the state Senate. The indictment introduces the Chinatown mobsters in this manner:

“The Chee Kung Tong, also known as “Gee Kung Tong,” also known as “Supreme Lodge Chinese Freemasons of the World,” also known as the “CKT”, was a predominantly Chinese American association based in Chinatown, in the City and County of San Francisco, whose members operated in the City and County of San Francisco and elsewhere, and whose activities affected other parts of the United States. The members of CKT primarily conducted their activities in the Bay Area, centered in the cities of San Francisco and Oakland.”

Yee, along with these mobsters, are charged on the following counts:

So, how does the California State Athletic Commission, the Department of Consumer Affairs, and Andy Foster fit into the picture?

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: CSAC, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 11 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

What exactly happened with that Matt Brown weigh-in fiasco in San Jose?

By Zach Arnold | July 28, 2014

UFC’s Matt Brown misses weight, but won’t forfeit purse in odd twist

The estimable Marc Raimondi wrote an article last weekend talking about the fiasco for the UFC San Jose show involving Matt Brown missing weight. Under any normal circumstances, Brown would have been fined 20% of his purse and Robbie Lawler would have obtained some of that fine money. Instead, no fine was levied.

Based on several interviews we conducted on background, here is the story that we were told.

The UFC, as far as we know, is the only promoter right now in California that does split weigh-ins. Last December for their UFC Fox network event at Arco Arena in Sacramento, Zuffa set up a system where the athletic commission doctors would take care of physicals and paperwork for fighters on the card at the hotel the crews were staying at. Once that process was completed, then the fighters were taken to the site of the weigh-ins to do their thing. Andy Foster allowed the UFC to do this split weigh-in process. It is uncertain exactly what the motive behind this split weigh-in concept is. For the Sacramento event, there were no issues.

It is normal protocol for athletic commission doctors to handle physicals, paperwork, and weigh-ins in one sitting.

For the July San Jose event, however, problems developed. Mainly, Matt Brown and Juliana Lima missing weight. One source on background claims that Brown was told at the physical by a doctor that he looked dehydrated.

When it came time for weigh-ins, Executive Officer Andy Foster and chief athletic inspector Mark Relyea ran the show. However, the doctors at the hotel handling the physicals were not at the site of the weigh-ins. When Brown and Lima failed to make weight, they were told by Andy and Mark that the fine was coming. However, Brown wanted time to make weight. UFC was very upset at Foster & Relyea. The end result was Brown not getting fined for not making weight.

There would have been no controversy if the fighters had made in the first place. However, the errors were compounded by UFC’s split weigh-in process and by the athletic commission not having doctors present at the weigh-in site. It wasn’t a good start for Andy, who was under pressure throughout the weekend by wannabe cops from the Division of Investigations department of Consumer Affairs for an audit. Those around Andy for the weekend described him as subdued, a bit on edge, and frustrated.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: CSAC, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 4 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

After UFC San Jose Arena event, will Florida offer their commission job to Andy Foster?

By Zach Arnold | July 26, 2014

Robbie Lawler & Matt Brown pretty much fought the kind of battle that you expected to see. Lawler winning a five round unanimous decision is no surprise. Neither was Anthony Johnson pummeling Little Nogueira in a showcase squash death match. Tailor made fights. There weren’t many surprises on the preliminary or main card fights that aired on Fox broadcast network Saturday night. The only minor surprise to note involved the scorecards for the Patrick Cummins/Kyle Kingsbury fight. The influence of Andy Foster was very clear. He is not a proponent of 10-10 or 9-9 rounds but is aggressive in pushing for more 10-8 rounds. And that’s what happened to Kingsbury, who got dominated so badly that he retired after his fight with Cummins.

All things considered, nothing earth-shattering came out of the UFC show in San Jose except for perhaps the Bobby Green performance against Josh Thomson. Thomson got screwed over earlier in the year and he didn’t rebound well enough on home soil this time around. Dave Meltzer said advanced ticket sales were, at best, average. The claimed attendance was a little over 11,000 but only a $735,000 gate? $65/head for a UFC show is very low for Zuffa. The juxtaposition of seeing Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier, two San Jose stars, on TV but not fighting was rather telling about the state of affairs with major California fight cards. The big boys don’t want to fight in the state right now.

The one big political story, if you want to call it that, coming out of the San Jose Arena show were the reports that the wannabe police goons from the Division of Investigation department of Consumer Affairs were there to audit the UFC show on behalf of Sacramento politicians. And the audit made a lot of decision makers paranoid. An estimated 30+ people (officials, athletic inspectors, doctors) were there to work the show on behalf of the Athletic Commission. Mark Relyea, the Southern California lead inspector who is Andy’s go-to guy, had called up as many people from Southern California as possible to work the San Jose show. When I say call up, I mean having athletic inspectors who worked events in Los Angeles and San Diego on Friday night drive up after working a late night and work a Saturday afternoon. Key word: drive. Not fly.

The over-staffing was a complete overkill. I counted 13 different athletic inspectors on camera for the fights that aired on Fox. Mark made sure to get as much TV time as possible on the main card. He knows how to put on a show. I normally expect sartorial splendor from inspectors like Chris Crail and Gil Urbano but it was very clear that the inspectors were told to dress well and not look like slobs on camera. It showed. Everyone was on their p’s and q’s.

The wannabe cops from DOI, when it comes to combat sports knowledge, don’t know much. But they have the rule books and watch carefully what is going on. The audit was no state secret. As one veteran stated to me, “It’s like the IRS giving you a heads up a year in advance so you can cover yourself.” Apparently, a majority of the fighters were drug tested. Anyone who knows how Andy Foster has operated for past events knows that drug testing, especially when it comes to California athletic inspector training sessions, has not exactly been priority number one.

When Armando Garcia was pulling in $2 million dollars a year as Executive Officer, he would run max crews of around 14 inspectors — but that was entirely dependent on the layout of an arena and the locker rooms. And he sure drug tested everyone. Nothing slipped through the cracks. California isn’t pulling $2 million dollar years now. And of all the event promoters that produce events, no one comes close to running a show like Marc Ratner and UFC. You have to go out of your way to really screw the pooch and mess things up. The amount of staffing for the Athletic Commission was way over the top on Saturday and was vastly different than previous staffing protocols for other recent UFC events in the state.

Which tells you everything that you need to know about that DOI audit and how paranoid it made the front office in Sacramento. Obviously they wanted to put their best foot forward but it will definitely impact the budget for sure. Quite a bit.

Which leads us to the interesting situation in Florida. There are rumors that a shake-up in the front office of the Florida Boxing Commission has happened or will be happening soon. Florida is a lot closer to Atlanta than Sacramento is. Perhaps an exit strategy has opened up for Andy Foster… if he wants it. And that’s a big if. Andy is a big part of the Association of Boxing Commissions and they are having their conference right now in Tampa. Will Tallahassee make an offer to Andy Foster at the convention? Would he take the job? Florida doesn’t have the spotlight like California right now but there are a lot of factors in which Andy could turn Florida into a major athletic commission and a powerhouse. Plus, the UFC has poured a lot of money recently into Florida and it’s clear that they have big plans for the state. It may be easier down the road to get some A-listers to fight in Florida cards rather than California due to the state income tax issues.

Guess who’s going to open up the ABC Tampa festivities on Monday? Ken Lawson of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation from Tallahassee. Andy will be there in attendance.

Main results from UFC 7/26/2014 San Jose Arena event: – April 29, 2013, Senate floor session – Sept 6, 2013, Lieu floor session (4 hrs, 37 minutes) – Sept 9, 2013, Lieu floor session (3 hrs, 51 minutes)

Topics: CSAC, Florida, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

An uncensored conversation with Josh Gross on Vitor Belfort & doping in MMA after the 2-year Sonnen ban

By Zach Arnold | July 25, 2014

If there is any writer who understands your frustrations with the blatant absurdity over the last five years regarding doping in Mixed Martial Arts, it’s Josh Gross. This is a man who was blistered by so many defenders of Chael Sonnen in 2010 when Josh led the way on the reporting of Sonnen’s journey into testosterone usage in California. Gross had his integrity maligned by a lot of people who knew better and yet didn’t apologize when they were exposed as frauds. One person who hasn’t apologized to Josh Gross is Chael Sonnen. After Sonnen was given a two-year ban by Nevada on Wednesday, he had a brief encounter in person with Josh Gross at the athletic commission meeting. What a circus.

We had a chance this week on Fight Opinion Radio to talk with Josh Gross for 25 minutes about Wednesday’s hearing and what the ramifications are for Sonnen’s two year ban juxtaposed to Vitor Belfort being granted a new license. Intriguingly, the mood in the meeting room in Las Vegas was business as usual according to Josh.

“Not so different than most of the athletic commission hearings I’ve been to. I didn’t see any heightened tension. I didn’t see anything that was out of the ordinary, quite honestly. It was a pretty significant Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing. Floyd “Money” Mayweather was in there. You had the UFC Fight Pass crew and a whole bunch of people that were attending. But, you know, it wasn’t so different on that end.

By far the biggest loophole being exploited by fighters doping is the issue of licensing. If you’re licensed and get caught, you’re in trouble. If you’re not actively licensed, you are in a much better spot.

“Chael Sonnen was licensed under the Nevada State Athletic Commission at the time of the test and Vitor Belfort was not. I think that’s essentially what it comes down to. That’s my understanding based on discussion afterwards. I think that’s really the thing that separates those two cases.”

The back-and-forth discussion on this week’s edition of Fight Opinion Radio (which can be downloaded at and updated on our Feedburner link) was as clear of an illustration of how deep the doping plague still is for MMA and combat sports in general. Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Our response to the absurdity of what happened on Wednesday is simple.

“I think what separate those two cases is the fact that Vitor Belfort might have a shot to beat Chris Weidman and I don’t think Chael Sonnen was going anywhere, so his career’s over and someone has to be the sacrificial lamb.”

The debate heading into Wednesday’s meeting was whether or not Belfort should have been granted a license, even if it was a fait accompli that Nevada was going to give Belfort a license if it meant a UFC fight in Las Vegas.

“Look, it was a confluence of a lot of crazy events. I tend to agree with Zach and I appreciate his viewpoint on it. I do think, though, there were things that differentiated the Sonnen case from the Belfort case and it’s not just a matter of they can make a big payday in Vegas with Belfort and Sonnen, they can still promote Chael Sonnen and sell him.

“These things are already sticky. They’ve always been ugly. If you follow the regulators and how it works, it’s never… every time you’re in there it feels like something’s off and something’s just not working the way it should but it works that way every time. So, I think it’s perhaps designed that way. I do have a problem with these regulators in Nevada and they seem to do it just sort of being buddy buddy with fighters. Bill Brady was just fawning over Chael Sonnen. It’s embarrassing to see. I mean, it’s strange bedfellows really. You have these people who are charged with the oversight of this business and these people and these licensees and yet these people and these businesses and these licensees are the ones that are bringing in the dollars for this commission to have any kind of say over anything. If the Nevada State Athletic Commission wasn’t making taxpayer money the way they were, [Wednesday[ would haven't been such a big deal. But the reality is it is big business. Big shock, money's a consideration. I don't know. What would have been the preferable outcome been? Belfort gets no license and can't fight Chris Weidman? Belfort gets a license and the UFC goes off and promotes him in Brazil? What would have been the best case scenario?

"No license? Yeah, I think that would have been the most plausible as I think a lot of people would have been there and that's totally reasonable and you can't give the guy a license. But again, you know, really ugly sticky situation with this [testosterone usage] which is why people are beating the drum to get rid of it or regulate it closer. I mean, there’s a reason why this thing has just been a noose around the sport’s neck for a couple of years now. We’re still seeing the effects of it.”

Make sure to go out of your way and check out our Fight Opinion Radio interview with Josh Gross this week. Also discussed during the interview:

A lot to digest in a 25 minute interview but I think it’s well worth it for you to listen to it and give us some feedback.

Topics: Fight Opinion Radio, Jeff Thaler, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold, podcasts | No Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas: Belfort’s new license & Sonnen’s two year suspension

By Zach Arnold | July 23, 2014

I’ll keep the details to a minimum on today’s putrid dog-and-pony show in Las Vegas for the Nevada State Athletic Commission meeting.

Vitor Belfort read a prepared statement, tried to come off as sympathetic, and was granted a new license to fight as long as he fought in Las Vegas in December against Chris Weidman. The theme of today’s meeting was all about Las Vegas and bringing fights to the town. Everything was couched in terms of “reasonableness.”

Nevada’s Executive Director Bob Bennett pushed forward the proposal of having fighters involved in championship fights send their gloves, sealed, to NSAC’s office three days before a title fight so that the front office and chief athletic inspector can examine the gloves. The gloves would then be returned to fighters at the day of weigh-ins.

As for Chael Sonnen, a reprehensible dog-and-pony show by the NSAC commissioners before they gave Sonnen a two year suspension. When asked why he didn’t apply for a new TUE to use the drugs he got busted for, Sonnen said he had no answer. When he was asked why he had three different doctors prescribing him drugs, he had no coherent answer. Dr. TIm Trainor was practically babysitting the ill-prepared and ill-informed commissioners on the drugs Sonnen got busted on. Both Trainor and Chris Eccles from the AG’s office next year were incredulous that the majority of the focus was on the coming-off-of-testosterone drugs rather than the HGH and EPO use.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

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