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Monte Cox fires back at Chael Sonnen for being discussed as a slumlord MMA promoter

By Zach Arnold | April 25, 2011

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Last Friday (during a Sherdog radio interview), MMA manager/promoter Monte Cox was asked to give his thoughts on how the landscape has changed over the last decade. When he first started booking fighters, his events were often venues for promoters to scout for ‘the next big star.’ With more MMA media coverage and the environment being dominated by one major player, Monte says things have changed for him and that it’s not as easy to find “the next big thing.”

“There’s so many shows, small shows that, you know, people are getting the opportunity to go out and build, I mean, the exposure that MMA gets now is so much greater that before you had to kind of fight on one of my shows or, you know, one of the more well-known promoter’s shows to get noticed and have someone take an interest. Now, you know, everybody does such a good job covering it, all these shows get coverage and you go out and win a, you know, win a big fight somewhere, everyone knows about it that night. So, it makes it a little bit harder but they’re still out there. I mean, we’re still grinding away…”

He has ran a ton of shows under the Extreme Challenge and XFO banners. Which is where this next story comes into play.

The context: Sherdog did an interview with Chael Sonnen and part of the interview was discussing what he labeled as his career highlights & lowlights. One moment he labeled as a career lowlight was fighting Terry Martin on an XFO show promoted by Monte Cox several years ago. He accused Monte of being a slumlord MMA promoter that paid him “$500 flat” to fight and had no insurance or doctor at the event.

Last Friday, Monte Cox sounded off on the charges Sonnen made against him.

“As everyone knows, Chael never lets facts get in the way of a great story. And, you know, a lot of the stuff that he said in that interview was ridiculous.

“You know, the only thing about that show, I mean, again, this is seven years ago. This was a small show, it was an XFO, wasn’t even an Extreme Challenge. It was a show to develop talent, I mean to find people and all that, but what a line-up for a show that, you know, could only fit a 1,000. And he’s right, it was in a hall and. he’s right. there was no locker room facilities. We had to put them in a… in basically they had two big storage areas, so there’s tables & chairs. You know, again, it is what it is. I mean, it’s… If you’re fighting in that show, you’re probably there for a reason. You know? And he also said, and I don’t remember it exactly, he said $500 flat. I don’t think so. I think, I mean, I can’t remember not giving win money, I mean, and everything. But, I mean… if he decided to fly all the way out and fight Terry Martin for that and then when he’s standing in the ring looking, wondering why he’s doing it, I think it was more than a bad cage that had to do with that injury he got.”

Mr. Cox was just getting warmed up in his burial of Mr. Sonnen.

“He fought Terry Martin and it’s a small show, it’s a Lakemoor show outside of Illinois, has an athletic commission, Illinois’ had one for a long time. This was seven years ago and… you know, we invited him to come and take part in the show and… just real quick, I looked that show up. Other people on that show that he makes so much fun of: Jason Guida, Nick Thompson, Bart Palaszewski, Terry Martin, Clay Guida, Roger Huerta, Tara La Rosa who is #1 in the world. We flew in Naoyuki Kotani & Hiroki Kotani from Japan. We brought in Alex Gasson & Sonny Leone from Canada. I mean, this doesn’t sound like a tiny, shitty show to me. I mean, it sounds like a pretty decent show. And so he comes on to fight Terry Martin and we were trying to test Martin, I mean everyone Sonnen at the time had fought, you know, not a lot of quality guys but he had a good record and we thought this would be a good fight. And… as I recall it, it wasn’t much of a fight. I remember Terry kind of throwing him around and in the second round he quit. And he said, ‘I pulled something,’ I don’t know what it is, I mean… whatever, I mean he’s got a reason I’m sure and he quit in the second round and I saw his (comment), ‘Oh, we were beating the crap out of each other back-and-forth.” Back and forth was Terry’s right and Terry’s left. There was no back-and-forth as I recall. But, that’s his memory and, you know, he says that one of the worst experiences of his life and… yeah, it probably was, he got the shit beat out of him!”

Sonnen fought Terry Martin and Jeremy Horn on two separate Monte Cox events and lost both fights.

“He says, ‘I’ve only fought in two Monte Cox shows,’ and yeah he has and he fought worse in the other one! In the other one, I had brought him in as a main event against Jeremy Horn in a casino in Omaha. Just like in Illinois, a doctor, insurance, a commission, same thing as all the shows and he lasted about three minutes in that one and… what I remember most about that is he came in with great wrestling credentials and Jeremy Horn picked him up on his shoulder and walked him around the ring and slammed him, put him in the corner, and just hammered him and split him open with a big cut and they stopped it to look at the cut, there’s blood everywhere, and they stopped the fight. I mean, this is a nice-sized gash and… you know, he was fine, he totally got it, he goes, ‘wow, I underestimated him’ and everything was fine. Then, like six months later, I start reading about ‘quick stoppage!’ I was like, quick stoppage?!? I mean, you had like three gallons of blood on the thing. You know, again it’s Chael, I mean his memory is… selective, I think.”

I’m sure many of you reading this are having flashbacks to Chael’s remarks about not tapping out (remember this?) That notwithstanding, the remarks made against Monte not having insurance or doctors at events he has promoted is a slap in the face.

“I take offense to (Sonnen) saying that I ran a show with no commission and no doctor and all that stuff. That’s bogus. There was all of those things, there was insurance. I just don’t think that a doctor can fix (you) if you don’t have heart. I don’t know what we would have sent him to the hospital with, ‘I have a case of the I Quit’?

“I’ve been around a long time and I’ve never been arrested for anything. I’ve never been caught doing steroids. ‘Yeah, I got caught, but I had an agreement.’ ‘Well… it’s an agreement that I understood, I guess obviously no one else understood and I’m going to take responsibility for it.’ Really? That’s great of you, you know, you put it in you and you’ve taken responsibility for it, that’s nice. ‘I illegally did the real estate stuff and, you know what, I’m going to take responsibility for that.’ Well, yeah, you have to, you plead guilty.”

While Monte still promotes some MMA shows, it’s nowhere near the volume of the shows he used to run when he first started wheeling-and-dealing. In today’s Zuffa-dominated business climate, it’s not much easier managing fighters in the MMA landscape when one entity is running the show.

“As a manager, if you’ve got top guys, if you’re talking about, in my case, a Rich Franklin, a Robbie Lawler, an Eddie Alvarez, it’s not a great thing because they’ve taken competition out. I mean, it’s hard for me to say, Rich gets done his with contract, it’s impossible for me to go, ‘Well, what are you going to give us now, you don’t want us to go anywhere else, we don’t want to go anywhere else,’ and there is nowhere else. So, from that standpoint, it’s difficult. You have to rely on Zuffa being fair and doing the right thing and hopefully that works. But for the small, for the fighters that are fighting for $10,000, you know, $10,000 and $10,000 and below, this is tremendous because they already got rid of all of the amateur (Strikeforce) fights, so that takes, what, another five fights or something like that a show that now become pro and, you know, all the shows they do, that’s a huge opening for a lot of pro guys that are coming up — the guys who fight for $2,000 and $2,000, $3,000 and $3,000, $4,000 and $4,000, I mean that’s awesome.”

One thing he certainly made sure to go out of his way to praise Zuffa for was the acquisition of Strikeforce and how much more efficiently those events are now organized and operated.

“I had a kid, Sam Oropeza, that fought on the undercard of the main, of the big show of the big heavyweight tournament with Fedor (last February) and, you know, we didn’t get per diem. We didn’t get mileage. We didn’t, you know, I mean they just don’t pay those things for the undercard. Here you’re fighting on the biggest card that they can produce and you can’t get paid back for your mileage and, you know, you would get two nights of hotels so if you lived three hours away, you had to drive three hours, weigh in, drive three hours back, then get up in the morning and drive back. You know, that was standard procedure, if you got a hotel room at all. Now there’s per diem, now there’s travel, now there’s three nights of hotel. I mean, instantly that all changed, so for those guys it’s a home run.”

He tried to balance his comments by putting on his promoter’s hat. However, in the process, he buried Strikeforce for not living within their means.

“I’m not going to judge Strikeforce for what they did and stuff mainly because, you know, they weren’t making money and, you know, sometimes you got to do what it takes to survive. I mean, no one knows that any better than me. I mean, with our shows, you know, if you’re going to make it you got to set a budget that makes sense for you as a business and you got to stick to it. And I tell people all the time, I would love to pay you more money, I think you’re worth more money, but this is what I have for this spot. If that’s not enough, you know I wish we could have made it work but I’ll get someone else and that’s the way you hang around in this sport and keep going.

“I mean, from Strikeforce’s view, I mean it was sure it was great to get Fedor, but at the cost… you know, they just weren’t in a position where, really, they could afford it.”

I hear he has a history of working for promoters that end up going out of business after they sign him.

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

8 Responses to “Monte Cox fires back at Chael Sonnen for being discussed as a slumlord MMA promoter”

  1. Steve4192 says:

    “I hear he has a history of working for promoters that end up going out of business after they sign him.”

    Like the Sibling Entertainment version of M-1 Global, run by none other than Monte Cox?

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Not only has every business gone out of business that has signed Fedor…. He also isn’t working too well with current management of his contract. He’s stalling once again to sign the contract to fight a bloated MW who within the last year or so lost to a Welterweight.

      Crazy Russians

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    Jon Jones is injured and Rashad Evans is going to fight Phil Davis at UFC 133.

    Which means the Top 3 fights for UFC 133 so far will be Evans/Davis, Nogueira/Franklin, & Belfort/Akiyama.

    That right there isn’t PPV worthy. Add in a Featherweight Title Fight…. And it all of a sudden looks like PPV gold…

  3. Chromium says:

    Promotions Fedor has helped to kill:


    Am I missing any?

    • Steve4192 says:

      You are missing the first iteration of M-1 Global with Monte Cox and Sibling Entertainment.

      I was actually quite enthused when they first cooked up that plan, given Sibling’s experience as a producer of live entertainment and Cox’s experience as a promoter and manager of some of the top talent in the sport at the time. I think they could have done good things. Then Vadim decided to pull the rug out from under them at the 11th hour and ‘poof’, just like that, Sibling was no longer interested in getting into the MMA industry.

  4. nottheface says:

    I know the common wisdom is that Fedor and/ or overspending killed Strikeforce, but I really see no evidence of that. Fedor was surely a big ticket item, but he was obviously signed as a loss leader whose cost could be amortized over the year. And it looked like it was an effective: before Fedor Strikeforce and Elite XC were averaging around 320,000 viewers on Showtime, after his signing it was 380,000 through 2010. And this year, they’ve been averaging 489,000 a show and Fedor and the Grand Prix have obviously played a big part in that. It’s hard for me to believe that paying Fedor for one fight a year is eating up 170,000 new viewers who are paying to watch every month.

    What killed Strikeforce is that they had a partner who had no stomach for any risk in the promotion game and a Zuffa that was willing to drop millions to outbid anyone else.

    • Steve4192 says:

      You conveniently left out how M-1’s incessant need to renegotiate damaged Strikeforce’s relationship with CBS. Had that CBS deal not fallen through, SVSE might not have to kick in so much money to keep things afloat, which in turn could have prevented them from getting cold feet about Strikeforce’s capital requirements.

      M-1 was not the only reason Strikeforce sold out, but they were certainly a contributing factor.


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