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Fight Opinion Radio: Josh Gross (@yay_yee) on media honesty, MMA drug usage, oversaturation

By Zach Arnold | May 23, 2014

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Time length of this week’s show: 37 minutes (17 MB MP3)

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Josh Gross (on Twitter @yay_yee) has seen it all as an MMA writer spanning two decades. He, along with Mike Fish, wrote the ESPN story on testosterone usage in MMA that broke open the multi-year anabolic steroid scandal with athletic commissions and UFC. We talked with Josh about the fallout & criticism he received from writing that article along with the ever-changing media attitudes towards Mixed Martial Arts. A recent syrupy Washington Post article summarized the current state of affairs. Josh brings candor & honesty to the table in regards to discussing the current state of affairs with integrity & honesty in the current MMA media scene.

In addition, Judge Jeff & yours truly has a lengthy breakdown of a recent article by friend-of-the-show John Nash at Bloody Elbow titled Managers express concerns over Bellator’s sticky contracts. Bellator has a taken a beaten in the press over their alleged contracts of adhesion. There was even the famous Reddit MMA article about a $400 pay day and selling tickets. The press has not been very positive for Bellator on this front.

However, there is an angle to the Bellator contract situation that has not been discussed: the role of California. On our program this week, we break down the missing angle that no one is focusing on. Bellator is now a California company under Spike/Viacom ownership. They are a licensed promoter. If any California-based fighter is licensed with the Athletic Commission, they could avoid going to court with Bellator by asking for arbitration. However, there’s a lot of questions and moving parts to analyze if a fighter decides to go that route. We break it all down and make it simple for you to understand.

Contact us

Get a hold of us by messaging Judge Jeff on Twitter (@whaledog) and Zach on Twitter (@fightopinion).

Our e-mail address:

Special thanks

To Zack Nelson for his past & present support of Fight Opinion Radio. Solid gold character.

Topics: Bellator, Fight Opinion Radio, Jeff Thaler, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold, podcasts | 1 Comment » | Permalink | Trackback |

The story on Andy Foster/California approving an over-50 female fighter versus a 300 pounder; Byars wins unanimous decision

By Zach Arnold | May 22, 2014

YFrog image by Francisco Salazar – click to enlarge

This Friday night at Quiet Cannon in Montebello, California, Ed Holmes under the All-Star Boxing banner will be promoting a fight between two unique female fighters.

Keela Byrd Byars, supposedly in her mid-to-late 50s, has allegedly been lobbying promoter Ed Holmes to book her on one of his fight cards for about a year. Initially, she wanted to fight former world champion Martha Salazar. That was rejected. Byars eventually was approved for a license from the California State Athletic Commission a couple of months ago. However, Chairman John Frierson stated that the commission would only sanction fights involving properly matched opponents.

According to Athletic Commission documentation, Andy Foster issued Byars a temporary license and stated that he would personally approve her opponent. John Frierson, Mary Lehman (former boxer), and John Carvelli approved the temporary license. The only one who voted no was Dr. VanBuren Ross Lemons.

Byars is in her 50s and, according to a source at Thursday’s weigh-ins, is in the low 200s for weight. The opponent she will be facing on Friday night in Montebello will be Bridgette Davis, a boxer who supposedly is in her 40s and weighed in the upper 290s on Thursday. Neither fighter currently has a profile on Boxrec.

The athletic inspector who did the weigh-ins on Thursday was Raul Oseguera, considered the #2 inspector (behind Mark Relyea) in Southern California.

According to boxing writer Francisco Salazar, the fight between Byars and Davis will be an attempt to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Update: Over-50 Keela Byrd Byars beat 300-pounder Bridgette Davis by unanimous decision in 4-rounder tonight in Montebello. Raul Caiz Jr. was the referee. The athletic inspectors who worked the show included Raul Osegueda, Fight Opinion critic Joe Ulrey, Joe Borrielli, and Larry Ervin.

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

Dana White’s final act with Keith Kizer & Steve Mazzagatti on The Ultimate Fighter

By Zach Arnold | May 21, 2014

UFC hyped up a major controversy for Wednesday’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter series featuring BJ Penn & Frankie Edgar as coaches. It proved to be the final act for both Keith Kizer & Steve Mazzagatti in Nevada. After this incident, changes were promptly made to the Athletic Commission.

The show featured a Middleweight fight between Edgar fighter Ian Stephens and Penn fighter Roger Zapata. Dana White spent the last half of the show trashing Stephens as a lay-and-pray, human wet blanket with no intent to finish an opponent with effective submissions. He went out of his way to bury Stephens. Very Dana-like but still curious behavior.

Stephens and Zapata went to a draw after two rounds. Zapata was nailing Stephens with elbows to the head throughout the fight and Mazzagatti got on his case about it. They went to a third round to determine a winner. Mazzagatti took a point away from Zapata for an illegal elbow. Dana blew his gasket and started ranting & raving about how to properly officiate that kind of situation by giving a warning first. At the end of the third round, two of the judges had scored the round a 9-9 round but one judge scored it a 10-8 round in favor of Stephens.

When Mazzagatti announced the winner of the fight, he raised Zapata’s hand and called him “Ian Zapata.” Everyone went crazy. Mazzagatti tried a do-over and said “Roger Zapata” but the UFC editors made sure to leave the mistake in. White blew a gasket and said it was impossible for the judges to give Zapata the win given that he lost a point in the third round. Dana claims that since only one judge declared a winner after the third round that the judges were asked to pick an overall winner (PRIDE-style) and they picked Zapata. This situation reminded me of the odd scenario ESPN was pushing in Nevada during the early stages of their Boxcino tournaments where there was a proposed situation involving fans, via Facebook, being able to pick a winner in the 7th round of a fight if judges could not pick a tie-breaking winner.

Dana went on his usual rant about not leaving a decision in the hands of judges. He basically berated Mazzagatti and Kizer the same way he threw a fit over Ariel Helwani asking Chuck Liddell about his desire to fight Jon Jones.

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

How quickly will WWE return to PPV? What does it mean for UFC?

By Zach Arnold | May 21, 2014

The UFC rushed to launch Fight Pass before Vince McMahon could announce the launch of the WWE Network. And WWE proceeded to make that announcement in the UFC’s backyard.

At the time of the announcement, estimable writers like Jonathan Snowden of Bleacher Report (now the #2 sports site on the Internet) said that the launch of the WWE Network was the equivalent of shooting PPV in the head and leaving it for dead. My opinion was that the WWE Network would certainly be revolutionary and could perhaps help keep WWE’s business going in the future. At the same time, I never believed that PPV was a dying concept. As long as you have compelling stars, you can draw on PPV. And PPV still means something. Appointment-viewing content still means something. PPV still carries a level of unique interest. Both Dave Meltzer and Mauro Ranallo (on Fight Opinion Radio) also agreed with those sentiments.

Three months after the launch of the WWE Network, the only numbers released publicly so far indicate a little under 700,000 promised subscribers. How many of them being paid subscribers versus deadbeats is yet to be determined. At a Monday conference call, Vince McMahon & George Barrios said they would release new subscription numbers next quarter.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: MMA, Media, Pro-Wrestling, UFC, WWE, Zach Arnold | 7 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Viacom, Bellator PPV debut delivers some bizarrely intriguing moments with a yo-yo consistency

By Zach Arnold | May 17, 2014

First, a run-down of the main fight results from the card:

Onto some thoughts from the show:

1. Very rough pacing of fights for the first 90 minutes. They went over the 3 hour time window.

2. Why did Bellator run the show on MS soil rather than Tennessee soil where: a) there’s no state income tax; b) Jeff Mullen and company are quality regulators? Who knows.

3. Frank Shamrock has natural charisma. Just not as an interviewer.

4. Interesting to see how many people on social media are celebrating the “demise” of Alexander Shlemenko & Michael Chandler. They’re also mocking Bjorn Rebney and Bellator. Long term damages, perhaps, but Tito Ortiz winning is very valuable for the Viacom suits. When I wrote my Sherdog article on how people treat Tito Ortiz as a punchline, the point of the article was to note that a lot of the criticism leveled against him was overly harsh. His career trajectory was the same as Chuck Liddell after their second match but Tito, like Chuck, wasn’t afraid to fight tough guys and embarrass himself in the process. Chuck’s celebrated for delivering punchlines while fans took glee in treating Tito as a punchline.

Don’t believe me when I say people think of Tito as a chicken and a punchline? Even Bjorn Rebney thought Tito would back out of the Shlemenko fight.

The win over Shlemenko sets up Tito vs. Rampage and that’s what the Viacom suits wanted to happen on PPV in the first place. Unless they play off the Mississippi score-cards and do Mo/Rampage (again).

5. The Bellator PPV did well in terms of social media traffic, snark and all.

6. Bjorn Rebney said he didn’t know attendance and live gate figures for the event. He also defended the score cards of the Mississippi judges. The announced attendance at the Inglewood Forum for Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Mike Alvarado was 12,090.

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

Will WWE fight the California State Athletic Commission over taxation of Wrestlemania?

By Zach Arnold | May 15, 2014

Whenever the document dumps for future California State Athletic Commission meetings are released, I’m a sucker for pouring over the pages and looking at the fine print. There’s always a news story to be found.

The document dump for Friday’s CSAC meeting in Los Angeles is no exception. I want you to take a look at page 35.

In the dullest typewriter font, there is a breakdown of gate taxes that CSAC levies on boxing, kickboxing, MMA, muay thai, and pro-wrestling events. Section 18824 of the state’s Business and Professions Code spells out the following:

(2) A fee of 5 percent, exclusive of any federal taxes paid thereon, of the amount paid for admission to the contest or wrestling exhibition, except that for any one contest, the fee shall not exceed the amount of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000). The commission shall report to the Legislature on the fiscal impact of the one-hundred-thousand-dollar ($100,000) limit on fees collected by the commission for admissions revenues during its next sunset review.

According to CSAC’s numbers for their July 2013-June 2014 Fiscal Year, here are the gate taxation numbers so far from live events:

Continue reading this article here…

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

Fight Opinion Radio: Herb Dean answers your questions on MMA officiating & fan criticism

By Zach Arnold | May 12, 2014

Herb Dean is a winner in life and on Twitter (@HerbDeanMMA)

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Time length of this week’s show: 39 minutes (18 MB MP3)

Show preview

Herb Dean (official web site here) just finished his yearly referee training camp & worked the main event of the UFC Cincinnati fight between Matt Brown & Erick Silva. The man has a lot going on right now, but he stopped by Fight Opinion Radio to address many questions that fans would ask a famous MMA referee if they had the chance to do so.

How does a referee in an ultrahazardous sport avoid getting severely injured? Big John McCarthy is on the mend after suffering a knee injury from working at UFC’s Orlando card last month. It’s a surprise referees don’t get injured more often during fights.

Does being a former or current MMA fighter automatically make you a better referee? How do you read the poker-faces of fighters who often hide injuries? What is a worse dilemma for a referee: an early stoppage or a late stoppage? What kind of tape study is involved in preparing to officiate a big fight?

How do you avoid suffering from the rabbit ears caused by fan & writer criticism(s)? How do you deal with fighters who try to influence stoppages by egging on referees to stop fights? Why are the standards between referees for standing up fighters for inactivity on the ground so wildly different? How does a famous MMA referee avoid the pitfalls from potential conflicts of interests? How do you avoid playing favorites?

Pretty much everything we could ask, we asked Herb. And it was a great interview. Worth a listen… even for our number one listener.

Contact us

Get a hold of us by messaging Judge Jeff on Twitter (@whaledog) and Zach on Twitter (@fightopinion).

Our e-mail address:

Special thanks

To Zack Nelson for his past & present support of Fight Opinion Radio. A mad genius.

Topics: Fight Opinion Radio, Jeff Thaler, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold, podcasts | 5 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

One week away from Bellator’s under-publicized Memphis-area PPV

By Zach Arnold | May 8, 2014

The stakes: Bellator will continue as-is if the PPV buy rate number isn’t hot, and for expectation purposes let’s use 50,000 as the cut number. Anything over 50,000? Then the lobbying begins to get Viacom cash flowing to ramp up Bellator activity in attracting bigger names. If the number isn’t great, then Bellator stays as-is for Viacom in terms of being an MMA-on-the-cheap property that draws in money but isn’t going to grow.

Here’s how the Saturday, May 17th card from Southaven, Mississippi at the Landers Center stands:

This card has been marketed as a two-match PPV show and only one of those fights (Rampage/Mo) has been pushed as the must-see fight in advertising.

Topics: Bellator, MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 21 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Fight Opinion Radio: Mauro Ranallo on the art & science of promoting a big Floyd Mayweather fight

By Zach Arnold | May 6, 2014

How Mauro Ranallo managed to do play-by-play of Floyd Mayweather’s fight with Marcos Maidana while live-tweeting at the same time, I’ll never know. But the man knows the science behind Showtime’s production of a Floyd Mayweather fight and it’s always an education for our listeners.

How does the atmosphere of a Floyd Mayweather fight compare to some of the bigger MMA fights in history, such as Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mirko Cro Cop? Mauro has seen it all and shares his candid thoughts on what the differences are.

Plus Jeff Thaler (@whaledog) and I share our thoughts on the ceiling hovering over Jon Jones as a big business draw. He’s a one-of-a-kind talent with a one-of-a-kind personality that isn’t magnetic in attracting fan support. Jim Ross recently had some words of business advice for the UFC and we have our response to that advice. More shows does not equal more stars.

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Time length of this week’s show: 30 minutes (14 MB MP3)

Contact us

Get a hold of us by messaging Judge Jeff on Twitter (@whaledog) and Zach on Twitter (@fightopinion).

Our e-mail address:

Special thanks

To Zack Nelson for his past & present support of Fight Opinion Radio. A true friend.

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

Nevada State Athletic Commission member applies for medical marijuana business permit

By Zach Arnold | May 5, 2014

Somewhere, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Nick Diaz are wondering what the hell is going on here.

Anthony Marnell III, who was appointed to the Nevada State Athletic Commission by Governor Brian Sandoval, is one of many big business types who reportedly filed an application for a medical marijuana business permit.

Clear River LLC (production, cultivation and dispensary) — Manager Anthony Marnell III is president of the M Resort.

Marnell III is now a member of an athletic commission that is infamous for hammering fighters over testing positive for marijuana metabolites. That isn’t the only conflict of interest, however, for Marnell III at NSAC. NSAC recently approved King of the Cage events that just happened to be booked at Edgewater Casino, one of his properties.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Take a look at who else is on the list of people who applied for permits in Clark County.

Doctors Dispensary LLC (dispensary, cultivation production) — Managing members include Las Vegas hematologist Dr. Oscar Goodman Jr., son of current Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and former Mayor Oscar Goodman. Other managing members include Dr. Michael Resnick, a Las Vegas dermatologist, former Planet Hollywood Resort president William Feather and Las Vegas attorney Raffi Nahabedian.

Raffi has been an attorney for MMA fighters Chael Sonnen & BJ Penn. But he’s not the big name that stands out.

Deep Roots Medical LLC (dispensary) — Manager Branan Allison runs Source One Events, a Henderson equipment rental and event planning company for the entertainment industry. Manager Gary Primm is a casino developer who developed the Primadonna resort and and helped develop the New York New York resort. Another manager is Roger Primm, who is related to Gary and was a fellow co-owner of Primadonna Resorts. The registered agent is Las Vegas attorney Lori Rogich, wife of power broker Sig Rogich. Sig Rogich claims a 5 percent share of Deep Roots through another company, Blakely Island Holdings LLC.

One of the many projects Rogich is involved in happens to be the Lou Ruvo Cleveland Clinic center. Guess who’s on the permit applicant list?

Integral Associates LLC (cultivation, production and dispensary) — One manager, Armen Yemenidjian, is vice president of casino operations at the Tropicana resort. Another manager is Camille Ruvo, co-founder of the Keep Memory Alive nonprofit organization that supports the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health downtown. She is the wife of Southern Wines and Spirits partner Larry Ruvo.

So the fighters are evil, bad people when they use marijuana and test positive for it. But those who have the money and are in positions of authority are more than happy to profit from the same substance they fine & suspend athletes for getting caught using.

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

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

By Zach Arnold | May 1, 2014

The Orlando Sentinel recently published an article detailing a $100,000 political contribution made by Zuffa LLC (UFC) to the Republican Governor’s Association, earmarked for current Florida Governor Rick Scott. Rick Scott vs. Charlie Crist for the state’s Governorship is a political race from hell. Only Tallahassee could make Sacramento look competent.

The Sentinel report notes that the UFC made the donation while trying to re-write the state’s public records law for transparency. The donation was made on January 10th. Three weeks later, on January 31st, suddenly & magically a bill appeared in the state Senate. State senate bill 808:

Public Records/Florida State Boxing Commission; Providing an exemption from public records requirements for the information in the reports required to be submitted to the Florida State Boxing Commission by a promoter or obtained by the commission through audit of a promoter’s records; providing for future legislative review and repeal of the exemption; providing a statement of public necessity, etc.

So, what exactly is the UFC trying to hide from the press and from the public at large?

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 19 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Business takeaways from UFC’s booking of Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum for Mexico City

By Zach Arnold | April 30, 2014

The announcement in Mexico City of Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum at Arena Ciudad on November 15th is not a surprise. If you listened to Mike Mersch at the Nevada State Athletic Commission meeting last week, it was very clear that UFC and their television partner have extremely high hopes for the three new Ultimate Fighter series they are launching. The crown jewel of the bunch is TUF Latin America. The UFC and Fox are pinning their hopes, with the relationship involving Televisa, that they can become a major player in the Mexican TV market. This is no different than the hopes/fears that people had many years ago when WWE was taking Mexico by storm and there were concerns about whether or not the two major players in Lucha (AAA & CMLL) would be able to withstand the invasion.

If you listened to our recent interview with Jimmy Lennon Jr. on Fight Opinion Radio, you know that the desire of fight promoters to run major events in Mexico City is nothing new. Jimmy was there for the Julio Cesar Chavez/Greg Haugen fight in front of 130,000 people at Azteca Stadium in 1993.

(Ironically I bring this date up given that Dana used Haugen last week to somewhat justify racist talk in the fight game.)

I’m not surprised at the UFC is trying to make major in-roads into the Mexican market. A big part of their strategy in marketing Cain Velasquez is to convince everyone that he’s a hero to Latino fight fans. They pushed him hard in California and got, at best, mixed results. Then they booked him for Texas. And now it’s onto Mexico City.

Continue reading this article here…

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

The UFC begins two-a-day events starting with their busy May schedule

By Zach Arnold | April 29, 2014

Event: UFC Fight Night on Saturday, May 10th at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports 1 & 2

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

Event: UFC Fight Night on Saturday, May 31st at the O2 World Berlin Arena in Germany
TV: Internet

Event: The Ultimate Fighter Brazil finale on Saturday, May 31st at Ibirapuera Gym in Sao Paulo, Brazil
TV: Fox Sports 1

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

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