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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 |

Keeping up with the UFCs: Will UFC be able to win back fans who are burnt out?

By Zach Arnold | July 18, 2014

The original event schedule for July & August for the UFC involved 10 shows over 8 weeks. With the Staples Center event canceled, we’re down to 9 shows. We’ve had three shows so far. The first two reportedly drew a million eyeballs on Fox Sports 1. The third show, this past Wednesday, didn’t do so hot. But you had to be a real hardcore fan to even know that there was a Donald Cerrone fight happening. He’s a staple on the Fox broadcast shows and was positioned for a deep cable show, so it’s not much a surprise that even for a guy as exciting as he is that few people saw his fight with Jim Miller.

We have two events left for July, then four more for August. And the aggressive schedule picks up significantly more steam in the Fall, where the shows never stop — including the UFC’s latest attempt to win in Japan, which is an experiment that I find very provocative to say the least.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 22 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Memo to all licensed by Florida’s Boxing Commission: verify your license ASAP; Florida updates only UFC licenses after our report

By Zach Arnold | July 16, 2014

I’ve heard many nightmarish stories over the years from fighters and managers who had paid for licenses at California events, only to be told at future shows that they needed to pay for a new license because the one they originally purchased was either not processed or lost. It’s infuriating that this even happens but when you have people out in the field accepting paperwork and cash, you never fully know what’s going to happen next. At this point, you may as well say the same thing if you send something directly to the front office in Sacramento.

Florida’s Boxing Commission appears, on the surface, to have licensing issues as well. After writing about the Dustin Holyko situation on Tuesday, I decided to check out the licensing process for recent events in Florida.

Continue reading this article here…

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

After Dustin Holyko debacle, time for DBPR & Tallahassee to call Andy Foster in California; 60 second search would have revealed all on Holyko

By Zach Arnold | July 15, 2014

The one and only Tom Molloy

Let’s face it, the last four years for the Florida Boxing Commission have been rough. Hell, the whole Tom Molloy era was rough. Love the mugshot. Too bad his other career highlight was fighting Tony Danza.

Molloy essentially got fired over allegations that nobody was auditing the ticket manifestos from shows happening in the state, meaning the commission was supposedly losing out on a lot of money and that other (potential) illegal activity may have been taking place. And the auditor who oversaw that investigation, Cynthia Hefren, decided to take a fat pay raise by moving on from the IG’s office to… Tom Molloy’s position at the Boxing Commission to be the bean counter.

Hefren took Molloy’s job for a $90,000 yearly salary; and Frank Gentile, who worked alongside Tom Molloy on boxing matters, found himself appointed as the Assistant Executive Officer for FBC to handle field duties (yearly salary of $56,000). Christa Patterson, who worked next to Tom Molloy at DBPR, is still on DBPR payroll for nearly $50,000 a year. And Molloy’s woman was also kept around for a while after his termination. Molloy would get arrested for domestic battery in April of 2013.

Snapshot from Leon County, FL. court document

On October 30th, 2013, Molloy plead no contest to one misdemeanor count of domestic battery. He was given 12 months of probation, 100 hours of community service, and entered into a batterers intervention program. But he was allowed to maintain consensual-peaceable contact with Jami Molloy, whom Tom met while he was working at DBPR. Interestingly enough on the court paperwork, West Palm Beach is listed despite the plea deal being entered in Tallahassee. Perhaps a confirmation of the long-standing rumors that Molloy moved to South Florida to either promote events or try to work with Don King.

What’s Molloy up to now? He got licensed by the Florida Boxing Commission to be a boxing trainer.

Continue reading this article here…

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

Fight Opinion Radio: As real as it gets? Decline is a choice & UFC has some tough decisions to make

By Zach Arnold | July 12, 2014

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In July & August of 2014, the UFC is running 10 shows in 8 weeks. It’s beyond overkill. However, defenders of UFC’s hectic global schedule point out that you don’t have to watch all the shows. It may be worth it if UFC wants to sell the company to a mega-global conglomerate down the road but there is a domestic price to be paid for all non-major UFC events. The fact that Lorenzo Fertitta had to do damage control on Fox Sports 1 over the canceled UFC 176 Staples Center show says it all. And yet amidst the non-stop crazy calendar that UFC has created, very few women’s fights on the card. They’ve signed Holly Holm. They are considering Cyborg next for Ronda. Why are any of the foreseeable opponents for Rousey going to be stronger than 8-to-1 or 10-to-1 underdogs? They’re not. And part of the reason is that the UFC hasn’t booked enough female fights to develop prospects that can come close to fighting Ronda. At this point, the only one who has a chance of stopping Ronda is her roommate, Marina Shafir, and she’s at 145 pounds.

After UFC 175, Zuffa has a chance to hit the reset button and move on from the major names in the recent testosterone plague. However, it seems that Chael Sonnen will never go away and Vitor Belfort is next in line to fight Chris Weidman. Every time reality hits UFC in the face, they seem to double-down and press forward. They got lucky that nobody knows who Ali Bagautinov is (and the 100,000 PPV buys he drew with Demetrious Johnson for UFC 174) or else the headlines would be blaring about a second UFC fighter getting busted for EPO in the last three weeks.

There are a million unanswered questions right now that are exacerbated by the UFC’s non-stop meat-grinder of a schedule. And this week’s edition of Fight Opinion Radio covers all of those issues in-depth and with perspective.

Special thanks

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

Topics: Fight Opinion Radio, Jeff Thaler, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold, podcasts | 10 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

After canceling Staples Center show, UFC’s oversaturation problems are a mainstream concern

By Zach Arnold | July 9, 2014

Before all the cool kids talked about the idea of UFC oversaturating the market with events to flood out the competition, Judge Jeff and I talked about this strategy in 2009 on Fight Opinion Radio and what’s interesting is that UFC is oversaturating the market but it is not killing interest in MMA as a whole but rather interest in UFC itself for non-major events. If Bellator can do OK numbers on PPV with Rampage Jackson, they still have a chance to be a viable alternative to the McDonaldsification that UFC is going through right now.

It’s no surprise that the UFC had to cancel their August 2nd event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Ronda Rousey wasn’t going to save that show. The reality is that UFC booked three California B-level MMA events within a timespan of two months. The three TV tax checks to Andy Foster would have given him $105,000 in revenue. Given that he was allegedly UFC’s favorite guy to get the Nevada State Athletic Commission job and instead bombed the interview, it’s my opinion that the UFC obviously wanted to bring some activity back to California for Andy. The problem is that UFC cannot get any of their A-listers to work the California shows at this point, so the gates aren’t what they are in other states. And running Sacramento without Urijah Faber is utterly preposterous. Something had to give and the Staples Center show had to go. Going from Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie to Brandon Vera vs. Mauricio Shogun to Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes isn’t going to cut it at that venue.

Which brings us to Lorenzo Fertitta appearing on Fox Sports 1 for damage control. The fact that he’s having to feel the need to address the oversaturation issue means that the concern is very mainstream now. The genie is out of the bottle.

CHARISSA THOMPSON: “What happened to force the company into this decision?”

LORENZO FERTITTA: “You know, it was a very difficult to make and part of the reason that we decided to postpone it is because Jose Aldo’s injury is a neck/shoulder injury, which he’s saying he’s not going to be able to train for only three weeks. So, it was a situation where certainly he wouldn’t be ready for August 2nd but at the same time he’s not going to be out very long. So, it’s going to allow us to essentially postpone this and reschedule this event for sometime in the early to mid Fall, probably in October. We just felt like that made the most sense. In addition to that, you know, obviously on PPV events there’s typically championship bout(s) on that card. Quite frankly right now, there was nobody that could turn around quick enough to be able to fill the August 2nd slot.”

CHARISSA THOMPSON: “So you mentioned in the Fall. Do you have a definitive date in October?”

LORENZO FERTITTA: “We are working on that right now. We don’t have a definitive date yet. We do have a date set for PPV on October 27th but we haven’t decided whether or not that Jose would fall on that date or not.”

CHARISSA THOMPSON: “Will this still be held in Los Angeles?”

LORENZO FERTITTA: “No, unfortunately it won’t. That’s one of the big negatives. I know that we’re excited to go back to Staples Center. One of the issues, though, is Staples Center is probably one of the hardest arenas to book in the country because they’re so busy and by that time of the year, obviously, the professsional sports teams they have start to roll around. So, we will certainly work with them to try to find another date. But we’re not real confident that we’ll be able to accomodate that.”

CHARISSA THOMPSON: “Do you have another location in mind?”

LORENZO FERTITTA: “Right now, we have a date scheduled in Rio de Janeiro for October 27th and we’re looking at a couple of other locations for earlier in October as well to see what’s available.”

CHARISSA THOMPSON: “So, will we ever see UFC 176 or will the number be scratched completely?”

LORENZO FERTITTA: “UFC 176 will probably become a question on Jeopardy at some point as the event that never happened.”

CHARISSA THOMPSON: “Fair enough. We know obviously that fighters earn their pay on fight night. So, what happens to the rest of the fighters on this card?”

LORENZO FERTITTA: “The balance of the fight card will be dispersed amongst the various fights that we have coming up on Fox Sports 1 and/or Fox and we’re going to try to get them fights as quickly as they can because obviously we want to keep them busy and keep them active.”

CHARISSA THOMPSON: “If Aldo isn’t available, then who do you put on the card?”

LORENZO FERTITTA: “That’s a good question, you know, we’ve got some other great contenders in Frankie Edgar and Cub Swanson that certainly could step up and vie for some type of an interim title. We’re going to know more in about two weeks. Aldo was told by his doctors to not do anything for three weeks. We’re about one week into that. We’re going to regroup in two weeks and, you know, if Aldo’s not going to be able to ready to go by October, then we’re going to have to sit down and see if we do an interim title and if that’s the case, you know, like I said before I mean the good thing is that we have a lot of really, really good contenders in that weight class that could challenge Chad Mendes for an interim title.”

CHARISSA THOMPSON: “Well, Lorenzo, as you’re well aware, Aldo was forced off of two other UFC cards due to injury. Does he need to do anything to tone down his training or how do you prevent this in the future?”

LORENZO FERTITTA: “Yeah, I mean, you know unfortunately sometimes you know guys just get nicks and get hurt. I think the good news is it doesn’t sound like a real serious injury to the extent that he’s going to be out for a really long time. I think if he lays off of it and obviously is very careful in his training, we’re hopeful that he’s going to be able to turn right around in October and that’s why we made this decision. But, of course, you know it’s something that all the fighters need to pay close attention to is making sure that they’re very careful with what they’re doing in training.”

CHARISSA THOMPSON: “What do you say when people ask you the question is this a sign of too many fights?”

LORENZO FERTITTA: “You know what? Um, I don’t think so. I think, you know, sometimes these come-and-go, a kind of ebb-and-flow. Last year, we went through the entire year and I don’t think we had to replace one card. You know, this year unfortunately this happened and overall at the end of the day, um, we have all of these guys coming back and I think the Fall for us, the line-up in the Fall is going to be pretty strong as all of our champions are coming back and we’ve got some loaded cards on Fox Sports 1 as well. So, we’re excited about moving forward from here.”

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

Chaos: Weidman-Machida go balls out, Struve faints, Ronda asked to save Staples Center August UFC show, empty seats

By Zach Arnold | July 3, 2014

On Saturday afternoon in Florida, we had the World Series of Fighting debut on NBC broadcast television. As John Nash discovered before the UFC helped pass a secrecy law in Florida, the TV deal between WSOF and NBC is a barter deal. WSOF got access but NBC isn’t paying anything out of pocket. It’s a good news/bad news scenario. At least MMA is able to get on network television, but there’s no ad campaign whatsoever to promote anything. Just filler programming in the mindset of TV suits.

The WSOF card on Saturday had one fight in particular that I was extremely interested in watching. I thought it would be the most compelling fight this weekend. Well…

Then came the UFC 175 card at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Perfect symbolism for UFC’s situation right now. Total chaos everywhere. Dana going nuts in press row and with staffers.

To show you the internal panic within UFC…

In addition to Ronda, expect Faber to get asked for a quick turnaround to fight on the last-minute UFC booking at Arco Arena in Sacramento on August 30th. If you’re noticed, UFC has done their guy Andy Foster a big favor with three shows within 60 days in California. I personally consider it a political contribution of sorts with three $35,000 TV tax checks, but the flipside is that none of the A-listers are going to work any of the shows unless Ronda saves the day at Staples. And as we saw on Saturday night, she’s turning more into Brock Lesnar (big TV attraction more than a live gate attraction).

And in front of 6,500 people on Sunday night, BJ Penn was painfully put into retirement by Frankie Edgar.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 28 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

If Alex Rodriguez & Barry Bonds won’t go away, neither will Chael Sonnen

By Zach Arnold | July 2, 2014

Well, well, well. It appears that it’s not only MMA’s bad boys getting permission slips to use testosterone. We knew that there were murky waters on this front in the major American sports, but now a new book on tarnished baseball star Alex Rodriguez claims that he was given an Exemption by Major League Baseball to use testosterone, the base chemical of anabolic steroids, in 2007. Rodriguez’s excuse? Hypogonadism. You don’t say. Plus he was allegedly given a pass to use a fertility drug, the same drug in question for both Chael Sonnen (UFC) and Robert Mathis (Indianapolis Colts).

The book further claims that over 100 players were granted some sort of Exemption by MLB.

What’s interesting to note right away is the contrast in the way the sports media is covering this newest development versus the lack of coverage (until now) that we’ve seen on the steroid epidemic in combat sports. Wally Matthews for ESPN New York already has written a great column on MLB’s alleged enabling of Rodriguez’s drug usage. He rightfully pointed out that if the book’s claims are true about Rodriguez getting an Exemption, then he got one after supposedly failing a drug test in 2003.

So while it may be hard to believe that a reputable doctor would diagnose low-T and prescribe testosterone to a man with the body, physical abilities, and history of Alex Rodriguez, that is precisely what happened.

A North Carolina physician, Bryan W. Smith, approved the medical exemption. Smith was the IPA — independent program administrator — appointed jointly by MLB and the MLBPA, but supposedly not answerable to either.

Requests for comment from Dr. Smith on Wednesday were rejected, and all calls were referred to MLB’s public relations department.

No wonder Steve Austin reacted the way he did recently when discussing Sonnen getting busted on two random Nevada State Athletic drug tests.

Continue reading this article here…

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

Golden groans, rope-a-dope edition, on the denials of California’s regulators

By Zach Arnold | July 1, 2014

I wanted to share with you three interesting mini-stories that I think will give you a glimpse into the turmoil right now happening with the California State Athletic Commission.

Last week, we wrote about an athletic inspector not paying attention to the trainer/chief second of GLORY kickboxer Gabriel Varga applying vaseline on the fighter’s shoulders after rubbing the petroleum substance on Varga’s head. That’s a no-no in California’s rules. I didn’t name the inspector on purpose, as I figured it was unfortunately enough for those who knew the person and what kind of ridicule there might be.

But I didn’t expect the athletic inspector to out himself on this web site and double-down by challenging me to prove the claims. Here’s Joe Ulrey challenging me to provide further evidence of the observations made.

Here’s a 12 second video clip of Joe Ulrey ignoring everything in front of him

The incident happened during the ring introductions for Gabriel Varga’s second fight on the Spike TV broadcast from the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood. Of course, if Joe had been watching Varga then he would have already known the answer to the question he asked on the site. People make mistakes and as long as you are willing to show the effort to be motivated and improve, then that’s all you can ask for. But when you have athletic inspectors showing up at events and approving shoddy tape jobs on gloves that could perhaps be hiding skinning or you have inspectors ignoring what’s going on right in front of their face on national television, it has to be called out. I called this behavior out on social media last Saturday night during the UFC’s San Antonio show when inspectors were doing anything but watching their own fighters. Same standard applies here.

And here’s a response to today’s article from the athletic inspector in question.

Don’t tug on Superman’s cape. Especially if the cape belongs to a feisty octogenarian like John Frierson, Chairman of the California State Athletic Commission. It’s amazing to see that he picks up on the political shenanigans that others half his age don’t mention at meetings. And last week’s conference call was a brilliant illustration.

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Topics: CSAC, MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 5 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

UFC has their own alphabet-soup: HGH, EPO, Low T, hCG, and more; Sonnen removed from FOX

By Zach Arnold | June 29, 2014

I don’t think you could have had better symbolism to represent all of UFC’s current problems than the dog’s breakfast of a doubleheader on Saturday, topped off with the cherry on the steroid sundae after Chael Sonnen reportedly tested positive for HGH, EPO, and hCG for his random Nevada State Athletic Commission drug test.

If Nevada doesn’t watch out, UFC will run more shows in Texas and Florida to stay in no-income tax venues w/o all the hassles of actual drug testing. Sorry, Tennessee.

Sonnen, a guy who copped a plea deal to mortgage fraud, has lived it up as the bad guy forever and made millions of dollars in the process. So did the UFC. They never cared about the issue of drug usage in Mixed Martial Arts. And neither did a lot of writers who wanted to be Chael’s friend or wanted to get in on the action for access.

Right message, wrong messengers. And a little too late for all parties involved. On Saturday night, Fox Sports insulted their television viewers the worst way imaginable by having Karyn Bryant as the anchor for their coverage. They had two choices: go dark and ignore it or go big and be honest. Instead, FS1 chose the most cowardly way out: they announced the news of Sonnen’s EPO test result at 2 AM EST and read a canned statement in order to plug their weekly UFC Tonight show.

You know what? The Fox/UFC strategy worked. The Sonnen story didn’t trend on Twitter. Nary a peep. Didn’t explode. If you blinked, you missed it. It’s absurd that Fox cooperated with this stunt in ignoring their own UFC insider but Dana sent the message recently that Ariel Helwani is not a sacred cow.

Fox Sports made its bed long ago with the UFC. There’s a reason former ESPN’er Mike Hill was apologizing to Sonnen on camera during his horrific spin job. It was so bad, he retired a day after that performance.

Nearly two decades after Mark McGwire & Sammy Sosa, Fox Sports is stuck in a marriage with a pro-steroids UFC organization that is now trying to backtrack as fast as possible. There has been damage done to the credibility of both parties but don’t expect many sports writers to jump on either party. There are many in the sports media rooting for Fox Sports 1 to neuter the mighty ESPN. Just as many are hoping for this outcome because they want to work for Fox Sports (or the UFC). Money makes the world go around.

But what about Chael Sonnen? What about all those rumors that Sonnen could have been the President of Bellator or the face of UFC when Dana White exits stage left? I still think it’s entirely possible that Sonnen will be the face of UFC management down the road. He’s the one guy who can hype a fight as good as Dana at this point for Zuffa. And it was a very quiet, silent Saturday night with Dana not being visible for either UFC event.

Prediction: Chael Sonnen will be part of UFC management within a few years and the whole drug testing controversy will simply be chalked up as Performance (Résumé) Enhancement.

Update (July 1st): Sonnen has been quietly removed from both UFC & FOX. For now. I expect he will return — and it’s interesting how much time passed before a decision was made here.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 16 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

GLORY’s Gabriel Varga has vaseline on shoulders while California athletic inspector thumbs his nose

By Zach Arnold | June 24, 2014

We detailed the Sacramento front office of the California State Athletic Commission playing fast-and-loose with the rules by giving suspended, cheating manager/chief second Rodrigo Mosquera a new license only three months after his temporarily suspension was made permanent by the Athletic Commission board at a February meeting in Los Angeles. Mosquera, who was suspended due to one of his fighters last September wearing altered gloves at a boxing show, somehow managed to obtain two licenses: one as a manager and one as a second. And yet Mosquera generally operates as a chief second whenever he attends boxing events. Mosquera was suspended for his actions essentially as a chief second and yet was granted a manager’s license in May that allowed him to return to action last Saturday for the Showtime Golden Boy event at the StubHub Center in a chief second role for boxer Gary Russell Jr.

This whole episode exposed what everyone in the combat sports industry knows right now about the state of affairs in California: it is open season for cheating. And even if you do get caught cheating, the current administration is very soft on crime and will use the reasoning of “everyone has to feed their family” to justify their behavior.

But those are big picture issues. At a lot of the shows in California, cheating is blatantly rampant on issues big and small. Whether it’s illegal hand-wraps, poor tape jobs, skinning gloves, binding, performance enhancers, slippery substances, you name it… it’s happening all the time. The truth is that many of the newer athletic inspectors aren’t being properly trained on how to correct these kinds of situations; and the veteran inspectors who know better let it slide because they don’t want to get on the front office’s bad side. They just care about getting booked to work events. Besides, when Consumer Affairs is allowing cheaters to get away with their behavior, what incentive is there for the veteran athletic inspectors to raise their voice and object to what is going on?

A big reason as to why such lawless behavior is being allowed at shows is because some of the veteran athletic inspectors just don’t care any more. They make excuses. They sit on their asses. They know what way the wind is blowing and figure, hey, if Che Guevara can get a job promotion to Chief Athletic Inspector in 2009 after missing Antonio Margarito’s illegal hand-wraps and volunteer inspector Robert Judge can get promoted to the role of lead athletic inspector after missing the altered gloves on a Rodrigo Mosquera fighter, there’s no price to pay for messing up. In fact, messing up seems to be a pre-requisite for getting a promotion in California now.

Which brings us to the GLORY kickboxing show this past Saturday night at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood. Spike TV aired the undercard and then there was a PPV portion. There were also amateur fights on the card, regulated by Steve Fossum’s IKF. The ISKA (International Sport Karate Association) sanctioned GLORY fights but the California State Athletic Commission itself regulated the professional fights on the card.

As one might expect on these kinds of major kickboxing events, there are plenty of fighters having chief seconds/trainers apply vaseline & liniments on their body. One fighter in particular, Gabriel Varga, had a chief second as slick as the vaseline being applied to his head.

California athletic inspector isn’t even paying attention to what’s happening in front of him

I was watching the Spike TV feed and, right in Varga’s corner, the chief second was applying vaseline on Varga’s head. The second in question slyly watched the people on the other side of the ring and, without hesitation, rubbed down vaseline on both of Varga’s shoulders after applying it to his face. Seconds & trainers pull this trick all the time on their fighters, hoping that the referees and athletic inspectors don’t catch the vaseline application and wipe the substance off with a towel like they are supposed to. As noted in the California Code of Regulations, Rule 305, one of the very basic rules that all athletic inspectors know about:

§ 305. Contestants’ Appearance.

All contestants shall be clean and present a tidy appearance. It shall be at the sole discretion of the commission or its representative to determine whether facial adornments (mustaches, goatees, excessive sideburns) and length of hair presents any potential hazard to the safety of the contestant or his or her opponent, or will interfere with the supervision and conduct of the contest. The excessive use of petroleum jelly or other similar substances shall not be permitted and such substances shall be applied to the face only. Referees or the commission representative in charge shall cause any such excessive substance to be removed.

Note: Authority cited: Section 18611, Business and Professions Code. Reference: Section 18640, Business and Professions Code.

In the case of Gabriel Varga, his trainer/chief second without any hesitation rubbed the vaseline both on his face and on his shoulders… right in front of an athletic inspector dead center on camera. And what was the athletic inspector doing?
Zoning off and putting his thumb under his nose. Literally.

Remember, an executive edict was issued by Executive Officer Andy Foster at the June 1st athletic inspector training session at Big John McCarthy’s gym in Southern California that all athletic inspectors must go in the ring/cage in between rounds to look directly at fighters rather than standard protocol of examining fighters & corner men on the ring apron/skirt. There’s no proof that this executive edict will improve fighter safety, but it doesn’t matter. Some of the athletic inspectors are following the executive edict and others are not. Nobody cares.

As the old saying goes, if you aren’t cheating you aren’t trying. At California shows now, everyone is cheating and the regulators aren’t trying to stop it. Even when it’s front of their face, they still don’t see what’s going on and are thumbing their nose at doing their job.

Topics: CSAC, Media, Zach Arnold | 16 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

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