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Showdown in California over youth pankration/MMA; TUF producers taping for teen combat show

By Zach Arnold | June 3, 2013

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Next Monday, the California State Athletic Commission will hold a meeting (read the agenda) in Los Angeles. There are plenty of newsworthy items on tap for the session but the topic that will garner the most controversy & attention will be the political battle between Sacramento and an organization called the United States Fight League, an organization that sanctions children & teenagers who compete in both pankration & MMA bouts. The USFL-sanctioned MMA fights feature a limited MMA rules platform and also a traditional MMA rules platform. Different Class levels.

The idea of children’s MMA is not politically acceptable in Sacramento and, as one might expect in this one-party dominated state, Democrats aren’t exactly down with the USFL’s sanctioning ideas of allowing children to fight in pankration & MMA contests, especially with the fights available on Youtube for viewing.

So, there is a reported effort to crackdown on these kinds of fights and put a stop to it. The USFL has other plans. The USFL is currently running shows throughout California & Arizona, both on tribal land and at locales that normally the state athletic commission would regulate. If CSAC is against the USFL being in the sanctioning business for children’s MMA, then it naturally means there will be an attempt to crack down on such events. The USFL has events booked in California throughout the Summer. You can check out the USFL rule guidelines for fights right here. Their Facebook group on Kids MMA can be viewed here.

If you take a look at the USFL’s Youth League page, there are many young fighters who train at some well-established MMA gyms. The USFL has fighters sign a standard waiver to not hold the sanctioning body liable for any injuries suffered in competiton.

“I understand that participation in this event/activity has a certain a mount of risk of injury, serious injury or death.”

The waiver also grants the USFL the right to sell fights on DVD & other video platforms.

So, why should you care about this issue if you live outside of California? Because, according to the USFL, they’re about to get national exposure in a big way.

“We are pleased to announce that the United States Fight League (USFL) has signed an exclusive agreement with Pilgrim Studios, producer of The Ultimate Fighter TV show to develop of a TV series in conjunction with our USFL Youth Pankration program.

We received offers from several other company’s and independent producers but ultimately selected Pilgrim Studios because of their long history with MMA and their commitment to promote the youth version of our sport in a positive manner.”

The USFL held an event this past weekend at Agua Caliente casino in Rancho Mirage, California. Here is their post about Pilgrim Films being in attendance:

Thanks to everyone who came out and supported the Spartan League Youth Show yesterday at Agau Caliente. As always the kids preformed and we were very happy that the coaches and fans did their part. So much was at stake and I think we pulled it off !

Pilgrim Studios were extremely happy, as was promoter Cops 4 Kids and Communities and I think the general manager of the venue was content as well. On the down side, we had one serious injury, a possible dislocated elbow and wish that competitor a speedy recovery. Referees had a good long constructive debrief as well as the organizing staff.

Now we just need everyone who forgot their unsold tickets to please get them back to Jeff Penn or Don Orosco. The tickets are accountable to the casino and will be counted against the promotors if not returned. The evening Battle of the Badges Boxing sold out so we hope this helps our cause.

Again thanks for the support. Next Show is June 28th at the Blue Water Casino in Parker, Arizona.

The footage Pilgrim Films is shooting obviously doesn’t revolve around a bunch of young kids locked in a house TUF-style, but such an idea of locking up kids in a house and having them turn into mini-Chris Lebens reminds me of a funny skit from The Jamie Kennedy Experiment TV show where Kennedy pretended to be a slick-talking TV producer who was trying to convince parents to sacrifice their kids in a Survivor-style reality show called Child Island.

Next Monday’s CSAC meeting in Los Angeles promises to be contentious and combative.

Topics: CSAC, Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 34 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

34 Responses to “Showdown in California over youth pankration/MMA; TUF producers taping for teen combat show”

  1. Jonathan says:


    Any thoughts on the change in the way the UFC will test for marijuana on international fights?

    • Zach Arnold says:

      I noted on Twitter yesterday that I thought it was interesting how UFC was claiming hands-off in favor of the athletic commissions regarding marijuana testing standards… and now all of a sudden they have reversed course by now trying to push commissions to go along with their changes.

      So, they socked Healy on bonus cash and send him and other fighters to rehab for marijuana usage and now suddenly have a change of heart?

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    I cringe at the thought of putting kids into MMA like competitions. Comes across as a very white trash sort of thing. Heck I do not even like seeing 8 year olds at fighting events.

    • Steve4192 says:

      Depends on the rules.

      I don’t mind seeing it if it is pure grappling or Kyokushin style striking with no strikes to the head. If it is pro MMA rules, then that is obviously a problem.

  3. Jonathan says:


    Do your thoughts extend to children’s wrestling, or is it confined just to the striking aspect?

    If so, what about children’s point-sparring in karate/TKD

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    Nothing to the head until 18 years old. The research being done about the long term effects of concussions is backing this up more and more every day.

    Striking to the rest of the body….Like point karate….maybe around 14. Anybody any younger is really taking potential abuse because of their parents wanting them to participate.

    As for grappling…. I have seen 5 year olds in wrestling tournaments. It is sickening. A quarter of them leave in tears. More don’t even look like they want to be out there. For wrestling and limited rules BJJ, I don’t see a problem with them competing at around 10 or so.

    Even for striking…. If people want to have a 5 year old hit the pads…. I don’t see the problem. It is the sparring and competition that needs to be stopped.

  5. Megatherium says:

    Actually, it’s a pretty good brand of football they play.

  6. Clay Carpenter says:

    Ok here we go again with another sensational article about “Kids MMA”. The author is either ignorant or intentionally misleading his audience with respect to the sport of Pankration.

    Pankration is a sport established about 12 yrs ago by FILA, one of the most respected organizations in the world for amateur sports. FILA is responsible for Olympic and international wrestling.

    The sport of Pankration does not allow any strikes above the collarbone. Unlike some sport Karate and Tae Kwon Do tournaments Pankration prohibits STRIKES TO THE HEAD. An intentional strike to the head will result in an immediate disqualification. Also unlike MMA, and similar to all other sensible youth sports, any attempt to injure your opponent is grounds for immediate disqualification.

    In 2011 many youth USFL athletes represented their country with pride and distinction in the FILA Cadet/Jr World Championships in Tamasi Hungary as members of the US National Cadet/Jr Team. Our US team, with athletes from all over the US took 3rd place behind the state sponsored teams from Russia and Ukraine. No member of our team suffered an injury more serious than a sprain.

    Since there are no strikes to the head and this is not “UFC for Kids” what is this all about? Not surprisingly its about MONEY and the backroom deal CAMO cut with corrupt former CSAC officials to get a monopoly on amateur combat sports in California. CAMO wants to force anyone who runs an event to pay them thousands of dollars per event. CAMO could care less about the kids who are being impacted by their dirty tricks because all they care about is MONEY. They have used their monopoly and cozy relationship with the CSAC to bully and threaten Pankration supporters. They are building their empire and the USFL is their next takeover target.

    We will find out on the 10th if Andy Foster and the CSAC are willing to have an honest discussion about this topic or if the deal is already done and the meeting on the 10th is to simply give the appearance of fairness and objectivity. In the meantime many young athletes who have been training several hours a day, 5 days a week for years and are dreaming of representing their country in the 2013 FILA Cadet/Jr World Championships in Split Croatia are being impacted. Thanks CAMO & CSAC for putting greed and politics ahead of the dreams of these youth athletes.

    • Warren says:

      Dude Pankration was not started 12 years ago it existed in Roman and Jesus’s time, in fact it is though to have originally started over 1000 BC, see link ( ) its the oldest and most brutal of all MMA fighting. It was essentially banned from the olympics cause too many people died. It was no holds barred bare knuckle kick boxing allowing wrestling and choke holds ect, in the spartan variation even biting and eye gouging were allowed.

      I dunno what they starting there for kids and its good they have rules but they definitely shouldn’t be calling it Pankration cause Pankration is basically MMA without gloves and no timelimit or space limit or any limit!

  7. Zach Arnold says:

    Ok here we go again with another sensational article about “Kids MMA”. The author is either ignorant or intentionally misleading his audience with respect to the sport of Pankration.

    Your Facebook group is called “USFL – Kids MMA.” Here’s the graphical evidence:

    Second, I linked to your different rules classification regarding the fights you ‘sanction’ in the article.

    Third, you have a CSAC meeting on Monday where the press will hear what you have to say. I am sure that you have issues with Sacramento. That is your prerogative. Going after me, however, for being ignorant? Dumb move.

    • Stephen Puckett says:

      Mr Arnold,

      I am a parent of a Pankration athlete and I would think that before condemning something that a journalist would spend a little more time researching his position and perhaps look at the entire situation with who is involved from all sides as well as their histories ( I am particularly referring to CAMO, is principles and history with the CSAC as well as before ). While checking out who runs the USFL ; Jon Frank and his cadre of aids and officials you’ll find nothing but sterling patriots who GIVE their time for our children.
      I sir, am an Air Force Veteran and retired Firefighter. I entered my eldest son in Mr. Frank’s events initially BECAUSE of the no head strike rule. My son holds three black belts and is a varsity wrestler in high school and I will tell you this…All of the sparring matches in his martial arts schools and especially HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING afford more violence AND head strikes ( yes, Mr Arnold, in high school wrestling, athletes routinely throw the back of the arm or elbow into the other wrestlers face while sitting out and it seems to be concidered “part of the sport” )than any of USFL sanctioned events for youth.
      Who would want to participate in this, gang bangers ? Perhaps but my son and his very first opponent when he was 9y.o. are scholars. My son has a 4.0 unweighted GPA and a 4.5 weighed GPA, he’s on the engineering team as well as math team at school, a Boy Scout (almost Eagle now) and a musician. My son is 16 now and aged out of youth Pankration competition but now serves proudly as an assistant referee for the USFL.
      Mr. Arnold, things go so much deeper than you can imagine, why not come to some events, talk to parents and the kids and I’m sure an intelligent open mind will begin to see that any problems exist outside of the USFL.

  8. Clay Carpenter says:

    Zach Arnold,

    No where in your article do you mention FILA. It would be reasonable for anyone reading your article to assume that the USFL is simply some unaffiliated splinter group running “Kids MMA” which you repeat over and over. No where in your article do you mention the rules which expressly forbid strikes to the head. You chose not to educate your readers about the sport of Pankration in favor of leaving them with the impression that this league is about kids MMA fighting.

    Anyone knowledgeable about the FILA Sport of Pankration is left to wonder why you would neglect to write about the international sport of Pankration when it represents almost 100% of what the league does. It’s not unreasonable for an objective reader to assume you are uninformed, or ignorant about the sport.

    If you are informed and aware of the fact that Pankration is a sport conducted internationally under the umbrella of FILA and that kids from the USFL compete in that sport why would you neglect to mention that in favor of calling it “Kids MMA” over an over?

    I understand that the standards for journalism aren’t high when it comes to many online blogs but you either didn’t do anything more than cursory research on this topic or you intentionally wanted to write an article that left readers with a false impression.

  9. Jon Frank says:

    Mr. Arnold, Not sure what your agenda is but let me clearly lay out the facts of what you are attempting to report.

    #1. Our league has been around for 12 years, way before TUF or any other source of the media had any interest in this sport.

    #2. The league was developed and is currently run by parents, former athletes and coaches and there has never been any commercial gain or even a salary for any staff member.

    #3. The California State Athletic Commission has taken a interest after a unnamed source sent them a highly doctored video showcasing an illegal strike to the face which was enhanced as a close up in slow motion shown three consecutive times! The fact that the fight was promptly stopped with the referee clearly addressing the foul and administering the penalty was omitted. Interesting enough, this video was sent to CSAC a week after rumblings of CAMO starting their own Youth League surfaced.

    #4. Finally our record speaks for itself, we are the only amateur organization that maintains safety records of all our events and have a statistical rate of less than 1 % of athletes needing medical treatment as a result of these competitions.

    #5. The perception of Kids actually fighting MMA is going to be very difficult to accept, even for the most dedicated MMA community. In no way do we condone or sanction Full Contact Mixed Martial Arts for Kids. Pankration is an internationally accepted sport for youth and adults, governed by the same organization that oversees Freestyle and Greco Roman Wresting. The World Youth Championships contains divisions for kids as young as 8 years old and we see no reason why American Kids should be prevented from competing in these competitions.

    #6. Finally, once again, this is a league run by committees of parents and coaches. Many of the kids who participate are dedicated to their sport and train as diligently. After 12 years of building this league we were approached by several different production companies. We avoided the companies who we felt would put these kids in a negative light ultimately selecting Pilgrim Studios due to their knowledge and dedication to our parent sport of MMA. If this show can grant life enhancing publicity to some of these kids so be it. Many of them do deserve recognition of their skills and accomplishments.

    If you are interested in reporting the facts about this league and its participants, feel free to contact either myself, any of the coaches or parents. You have gained access to our private Facebook groups as you were able to display some of the quotes from our conversations so it should not be hard to follow up with honest dialog.

  10. Kyle Olsen says:

    “The USFL-sanctioned MMA fights feature a limited MMA rules platform and also a traditional MMA rules platform. Different Class levels.”

    Class B Pankration is not a limited MMA platform, it is most lagely based on FILA’s Pankration rules, and is a form of Pankration, derived from pancrase, which is, in effect, its own martial art. That’s like saying Krav Maga is MMA because they teach both ground defense and standing techniques.

    Class A Pankration is not a traditional MMA Platform. The rules are different, the scoring is different, and the focus is on safety, not brutality. More submissions that have potential for serious injury such as Heel Hooks and Outside Toe Holds are illegal, there’s no striking to the head on the ground, there’s no knees or elbows to the head, and we use transparent scoring as opposed to a 10-9 system. If a submission is locked, the fights are terminated by referee’s decision for safety reasons. What platform of MMA are you referring to? It is, again, derived from Pankration.

    “The idea of children’s MMA is not politically acceptable in Sacramento and, as one might expect in this one-party dominated state, Democrats aren’t exactly down with the USFL’s sanctioning ideas of allowing children to fight in pankration & MMA contests, especially with the fights available on Youtube for viewing.”

    The dispute with Sacramento isn’t whether or not kids can fight. They want to regulate it. As in with CAMO. Which places a financial burden on an otherwise non-profit organization that has more knowledge, more experience, and more trained referees and promotors than CAMO, who has expressed interest in becoming the regulating body for Pankration events (of course, with dues paid by fighters, coaches, and promoters each year). This is to about political views on whether kids can fight or not, despite the pretty picture painted by Andy Foster and his affiliates- it is a political agenda that you are supporting when you make statements like you have throughout this article, claiming we are throwing “Kid’s MMA” events.

    “So, there is a reported effort to crackdown on these kinds of fights and put a stop to it.”

    You are neglecting to mention that should these events be “stopped” (again, a supposition that negates the notion that CAMo/CSAC wants to “regulate”, not “stop” Pankration), then other similar-type sports should be next on the list: Muay Thai, Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, etc. After all, we wouldn’t want children to get seriously injured…neglecting of course the near-perfect health record Pankration and other derivatives of martial arts can proudly wield.

    “If you take a look at the USFL’s Youth League page, there are many young fighters who train at some well-established MMA gyms.”

    Agreed. Which means the children are doing it anyway, this is about whether or not to throw competitions to allow them to do the same thing they’re already doing? If you deny a child training Jiu Jitsu does throws and takedowns, or a teenager who does Muay Thai and Boxing hits to the head, then yes, I will say it is ignorance or a conscious decision to be ignorant.

    “The footage Pilgrim Films is shooting obviously doesn’t revolve around a bunch of young kids locked in a house TUF-style, but such an idea of locking up kids in a house and having them turn into mini-Chris Lebens reminds me of a funny skit from The Jamie Kennedy Experiment TV show where Kennedy pretended to be a slick-talking TV producer who was trying to convince parents to sacrifice their kids in a Survivor-style reality show called Child Island.”

    You’re right, it doesn’t revolve around kids locked in a house. It revolves around children working hard, training hard, getting moderate to above-average grades, enjoying the little things kids enjoy, maintaining good relationships with their families, and dedicating hours upon hours, day after day, to hard work in the gym, which keeps them off the streets, away from “the bad crowd”, and focused on their dreams and their future.

    Your article suggests what we do is almost barbaric. You suggest, be it of ignorance or choice, we are training little “Chris Lebens” and sanctioning them to be “bad boys/girls”. You don’t speak of the positive effect we have on the kids, you don’t speak of children’s dreams, you don’t speak of the safety of the events or of the hard work and dedication the promoters, coaches, and USFL officials put into it regularly to make this an ever-growing opportunity for the children.

    Reading through your article, I come to the conclusion Clay Carpenter did- either you don’t know, which is damaging but I suppose fine if you don’t care what you damage when you write, or you have intentionally misled readers to believe this is something it’s not. In either case, I find your article both damaging and in poor taste.

  11. Ty Hutchison says:

    Mr Arnold,

    Can you elaborate on why someone ‘going after’ you for being ignorant would be a ‘dumb move’? Interesting choice of words which, I think, most people would interpret as an attempt to convey some sort of veiled threat. But, I don’t know. Seems like you’re playing the victim a little.

    Nobody is ‘going after you’. What Mr Carpenter said is that, based on the content of your article and in light of his extensive, actual experience with both Fight League, specifically, and youth pankration in general, the two most likely explanations for your statements are that you are either ignorant or are being intentionally misleading. I would say, based on my extensive, actual experience, that both are true. I’ll take them one at a time.

    Ignorance: Have you ever been to a fightleague show? Have you ever initiated any correspondence with Fight League? Are you familiar with the details of it’s rules? Have you ever interviewed any of it’s officals or referrees? Have you ever interviewed any of the parents of kids who take part or the kids, themselves? Were you even aware of the events that precipitated this whole issue, the doctored video, CAMO, any of it? If so, if you have done or are aware of these things, then your story is, to put it extremely lightly, incomplete. Which leads me to….

    Misleading: Basically, you presented a highly suggestive, incomplete picture of things and then left it to your readers to ‘decide’. You had access to so much information that could have informed those decisions, but you chose not to even seek it, let alone use it. But the most sickeningly dishonest and misleading thing you did was to include that video from the Jamie Kennedy show. Up until that point, I might have been able to chalk your whole story up to simple incompetence, but including that video the way you did took things to the level of irresponsibility, malice and stupidity. You even admitted that Pilgrim’s footage will have no similarity to the TUF format, but then went on to say that the fictional idea of something that doesn’t exist reminded you of this skit. And you posted it and left it at that, with no disclaimer or explanation, no comparison to actual reality. And in doing so, you knowingly mischaracterized a group of parents who care a great deal for thier kids. I have no doubt that, if you had any actual personal experience of the people you intended that video to represent, you could not have, in good conscience, included it in your story the way you di, if at all. But maybe that’s assuming too much about your personal character. Does this seem personal? I hope you’re smart enough to discern that it’s not, that it’s simply an observation based on your conduct.

    It’s ok if you’re not an actual journalist. But if you’re going to act like one, for God’s sake, at least…..try to ACT LIKE ONE. Research. Fairness. Honesty. Objectivity. They’ll get you a long way. If they don’t, at least they’ll get you respect.

  12. Anthony Frank says:

    This response goes out to Mr. Zach Arnold for speaking his mind before actually listening.

    Mr. Arnold your interpretation and understanding of USFL Youth Pankration doesn’t scratch the surface of an iceberg. Next time you write an article or open your mouth I suggest listening before you speak. Your “in depth” knowledge about our sport is based upon what you copied and pasted from our facebook page “USFL Kids – MMA”.

    In your article you expressed the strong notion that suggests kids shouldn’t be fighting and how the State of California agrees “Democrats aren’t exactly down with the USFL’s sanctioning ideas of allowing children to fight in pankration” The hearing is not so much about the safety and positive outlet the USFL provide its athletes. The hearing is about who will have the rights to regulate youth Pankration. Which is just a fancy political way of saying who will make money off our children competing.

    It’s interesting you don’t like being called ignorant yet you relate our parents to “Jaime Kennedy Experiment: Child Island” skit. The relationship between Pankration Coaches and Parents to this ridiculous skit shows exactly what you think about our community. How would you like our Coaches and Parents to respond to this idiocracy?

    Im sure it’s not your fault thou, you checked out USFL Pankration and saw children fighting on a wrestling mat or in a cage. The first thoughts that possibly ran thru your head were these parents should be thrown in jail for child abuse. These kids are bullies and punks that will only cause problems for society…

    As I stated above this doesn’t even scratch the surface of our sport. Here is why you should listen before voicing out your opinion.

    Let’s talk about the children who participate in Pankration and the amount of COMMITMENT AND DEDICATION they put into improving their martial arts skills. These kids train 3-4 hours per day 4-6 days a week. Thats 12 to 24 hours per week these children participate in a positive outlet interacting and forming strong FRIENDSHIPS with each other. The COURAGE and CONFIDENCE these children will carry throughout their lives to become strong leaders of their generation is born thru commitment and dedication in the gym.

    The outside world chooses to voice their opinion rather than actually seeing what goes on in our community. The USFL provides a safe environment for these children who dedicate 12-24 hours a week to showcase their skills or what I like to call art. There is a strict point system that does not award brutality over skill. We do not allow our children to hit each other in the head! Our kids are not fighting they are engaged in competition to test their skill on each other. After the bout is over one child wins and the other child looses. HUMILITY is learned here as every kids who competes has losses and learns how to PERSEVERE and rise again.

    Our children are not bullies and if you actually took time to talk to them you would discover something very beautiful. These are strong children with character and charisma. Many of our children are ACADEMIC SCHOLARS.

    How does “Jaime Kennedy Experiment: Child Island” have anything to do with our children’s parents?

    I would hope our Democratic State and all the negative media would leave out their personal feeling and look at the facts.

    Only an idiot voices their opinion before listening.

  13. Suzette Medina says:

    Mr Arnold:
    So you have had feedback to your so called barbaric elaborated article and now you have facts from educated people and VOLUNTEERS of our organization that has made my daughters hopes and dreams a reality!! Please elaborate on facts now… Truth Mr Arnold, I also find this ignorant and biased on your behalf out of greed as far as I’m concerned because this is your website and your business to attract as much traffic and responses to your article because if you didn’t then it wouldn’t be a success in your book wether your right or morally wrong…. You don’t know any of us first hand and I don’t think you have reached out to any of our kids or their families to see who they really are aside from presenting stuff that makes us look like monsters and not the whole picture …. Let me introduce my self I’m a mother with many kids of which are all super stars in my book wether its dance competing, baseball Allstar player, wrestlers one that’s a state level champion female Cheyenne that competes in Martial Arts and trains hard everyday because its her passion.. Not only is she a super athlete she’s a quiet, humble sweet baby girl that will turn 11 in October, but she’s a honor student with grades through the roof that’s already had 3 consecutive years of Academic Presidential Excellence awards signed by Obama for her academic achievements and success…. To say the least she’s just one of MANY similar kids in our organization! This is her passion and she has accomplished what many will never accomplish in a life time sir Arnold and it will continue God willingly .. The ultimate goal is to graduate from university with honors and in between hopefully she can have an Olympic tour for women’s wrestling if we don’t get stripped of that dream as well! Cheyenne is so focused, educated, mature, responsible already at her age she has life goals and knows the value of hard work, life, and dreams with good work ethic behind that not many kids have with sitting In front of a tv with nothing to look forward to or accomplish in life … And again she’s just one of MANY kids that we have participating in our organization ands what we do and stand up for. You have seriously mislead people in your article and you don’t know what your talking about! I’ve let my 10 year old daughter read your article and the video and she shook her head and said “wow mom this isn’t us, has he ever been to our events or talked to any of us, he doesn’t know what he’s writing about”!!!!!! Maybe you should have had the balls to interview reality not reality tv! Excuse my language but its true!! And for the record my kids which participate in our youth MMA also participate and donate hours for volunteer work to charities like Lions clubs, Hope for a cure for juvenile diabetes, operation Santa etc… in the La Habra based area down to my 4 year old contributes and performs since the age of 2 years old ! How many monster parents can pull this off and have well rounded successful kids in all aspects of life !!! This concludes my comments towards what you have said and put together!!!! May god be with you buddy because mean spiteful people always suffer in life one way or another… The truth in life we all pay for our actions with karma … When you live with good heart and good intentions good things will always come your way, but when your mean spiteful and ignorant that’s the same treatment life gives you back even if you don’t feel it now it comes and bites you in the tail… I assume you probably are a lonely man with no real love or passion in life but causing controversy and term oil because maybe that’s how your life has always been!! Sad and unfortunate you can try to demolish the reputation of a good thing when you don’t know any of our kids or us parents, coaches, referees, volunteers !

  14. Suzette Medina says:

    And for the record!!!!!! MMA means and spell out “mixed martial arts…. NOW WHERE does it look, spell or sound like UFC” !

  15. Chris Manzo says:

    I think that people hear this kid’s MMA verbage and automatically relate it to “UFC”. The truth of the matter is that I have not met a parent or coach in this league that does not truly care about kids and the “sports” aspects of martial arts. This is not MMA, but the kids involved are fans and practicioners of all aspects of MMA. Kids are going to do what the want and there will always be organizations that intend to “capitalize” on it. From first hand experience with zero financial interest in USFL, I can tell you that this is the most effective, honest, and safe way for kids to practice and compete in the sport they love. Go find venues that have kid’s MMA and I will help you degrade them. USFL is not one a such organization. They are not in it for the money or any fame.

  16. Mr. Arnold,
    I am the program manager for Fighting For Fitness, a 501c3 public charity purposed to reduce childhood obesity. We also promote youth participation in International competition. Our program utilizes Mixed Martial Arts inspired fitness classes as the exercise vehicle to promote physical activity in children 8-16yrs. Our advanced kids have participated in USFL Pankration events so I wanted to voice my support for youth Pankration and offer you some insight from a different perspective.

    For us, Pankration is not about fighting, submissions nor beating an opponent. We view the Pankration tournaments and All-star shows as the culmination of hours and hours of hardwork in the gym.

    I’d be the first person to tell you that Pankration is not going to be for everyone. Neither is tackle football for that matter. The point being, Pankration offers a unique opportunity for youth athletes to train and compete.

    As an organization dedicated to helping children become healthier and more active, we have witnessed first hand how the sport of Pankration has literally changed lives. Children who train have more self-esteem, self-confidence are bullied less and do better in school. A little more respect and discipline from any kid is a good thing, no?

    • Stephen Puckett says:

      Mr. Nogawa,

      I hope Mr. Arnold is now aware that wonderful selfless programs like your’s provide free trainning AND healthy eating lifestyle education especially for the underserved community. Mr. Arnold should be aware of you being a parent of a youth Pankration athlete ( now an adult ) and how you and your wife give countless hours to help children prepare to compete in the USFL should they decide.
      I personally am so grateful for the time my three children spent with Fighting For Fitness……PEEL BACK THE ONION MR. ARNOLD.

  17. Anthony Frank says:

    Mr. Arnold,

    As you can see we are a hard working community made up of USFL officials, Referees, Coaches and Parents that love our kids. We are a family that loves each other and our sport of Pankration. Please don’t shine this negative light on our sport that provides our children with the tools needed to succeed in life.

    We understand not everyone will see the value our children gain from competing in pankration, many of whom think we are crazy and abusive. To them I suggest talking to our kids and see who they are. Our children will surely set the record straight and show you what USFL Pankration has done for them.

    Anthony Frank

  18. Ty Hutchison says:

    Mr. Arnold,

    I’ve just spend some time reviewing your website, or blog. To my surprise, many of your stories appear to be extensively researched. It’s a shame that this was not the case with this particular story. I did notice, however, that not many contain first hand accounts or corroborating interviews but, rather, exerpts of records or snippets from other news stories initially reported by individuals or entities other than yourself. While I will allow that it is not impossible to get at the truth by such means, limiting your research in such a way does have it’s pitfalls. I think you’ve become a victim of your own methods. The reason you’re recieving so much backlash is because you’re not the only victim. You’ve irresponsibly allowed your methods in this case to pull a group of dedicated parents, thier amazing kids and a stellar organization that has done so much for them and to which they are fiercely loyal into your mistake. Our fight, as you well know, existed before your story and will exist independant of it. But you have mischaracterized both it and us and, thereby, potentially made it more difficult.

    Your site seems to focus on reporting stories of note regarding MMA worldwide utilizing whatever information you can garner from other sources. The problem, in this case, is that you’ve brought that same somewhat removed approach to the reporting of an issue that, though it may have far reaching implications, at this point involves a small community of people with a common bond and interest. Fight League is like a neighborhood, a family. You can’t sit afar off and lob false or misleading information about it around without it coming back at you. Because, in this analogy, that’s my neighbor you’re talking about. I know that parent, that kid. I WAS THERE WHEN IT HAPPENED. You haven’t even walked down our street, let alone talked to any of us.

    I found this statement by you in one of your stories interesting:

    “The majority of fight fans do not realize just how much power these kinds of politicians have when it comes to regulating combat sports. One politician, on a whim, can make a decision that impacts the business in a negative manner. And, as we have seen in California, politicians not only interfere in combat sports regulation but often insert their political cronies to screw over good people and to give political cover to whose who use governmental resources to ruin the lives of those they choose to destroy.”

    Though the context of this statement was a bit different than that of the issues we are facing, there are some very striking parallels. Perhaps your apparent sentiments about the abuse of power and cronyism will lead you to find that you are more for us than against us. Before this happens, though, you’ll need some facts. Many have been spelled out for you in these responses. Fight League has hidden nothing. If you need more, we’re right here. Just ask.

  19. Jim Virden says:

    Hello Mr. Arnold. You’ve generated quite a response with your blog piece. Congratulations!
    I too read what you wrote and I have some questions that I am sure you can answer, because you obviously did a fair amount of research before writing. In fact, you cite “reports”, “democrats”, and seem to have inside knowledge of what the California State Athletic Commission is thinking.
    In paragraph one you asserted: “Next Monday, the California State Athletic Commission will hold a meeting…. but the topic that will garner the most controversy & attention will be the political battle between Sacramento and an organization called the United States Fight League….”
    Please provide the name of your source who told you that this is “political”?
    Continuing in the same paragraph, you asserted: “The USFL-sanctioned MMA fights feature a limited MMA rules platform and also a traditional MMA rules platform. Different Class levels.”
    As it relates to the USFL and Youth Pankration, where did you find rules titled “Limited MMA” and “Traditional MMA”?
    In paragraph two you asserted: “The idea of children’s MMA is not politically acceptable in Sacramento and, as one might expect in this one-party dominated state, Democrats aren’t exactly down with the USFL’s sanctioning ideas of allowing children to fight in pankration & MMA contests, especially with the fights available on Youtube for viewing.”
    On what do you based your assertion that, “The idea of children’s MMA is not politically acceptable in Sacramento….”? Please provide a verifiable source.
    Going on in the same paragraph you asserted: “Democrats aren’t exactly down with the USFL’s sanctioning ideas….”
    Who is/are the Democratic State official(s) who told you this? Or if you read it, please provide the document reference.
    In paragraph three you stated: “So, there is a reported effort to crackdown on these kinds of fights and put a stop to it.”
    Where was this “reported”? Please provide your source.
    Further on in paragraph three you stated: “The USFL is currently running shows throughout California & Arizona, both on tribal land and at locales that normally the state athletic commission would regulate. If CSAC is against the USFL being in the sanctioning business for children’s MMA, then it naturally means there will be an attempt to crack down on such events.”
    First, Can you please clarify the use of the word “throughout” as it would seem to encompass the entirety of the two states?
    Second, if you know, does the CSAC regulate Youth Wrestling or Youth Jiu Jitsu in California? And, if your answer is no, can you explain the difference between them and Youth Pankration conducted under Class B (limited contact) Pankration rules?
    Further down, you included the following legal statement found on the USFL Participant Waiver form: “I understand that participation in this event/activity has a certain a mount of risk of injury, serious injury or death.”
    According to your research, is this waiver statement any different from what one might find on the waivers of other youth sports like Baseball, Football, Soccer, Basketball, Gymnastics, etc.?

    I anticipate a quick reply to each of my questions since they will come from the research you put into the creating of your article.

    Thank you in advance.

  20. Ty Hutchison says:

    Quote from Mr. Arnold’s Twiiter feed about four hours ago:

    “FightOpinion?@FightOpinion5h … Remember my item about battle between CSAC & youth pankration/kids MMA? USFL defenders are going after me now. Dumb”

    Way to respond intelligently there, Zach. To all of your regular readers, if there are any: This guy is a serious joke. You can get your MMA ‘news’ anywhere you want. Just know that this particular source is neither honest enough to admit when he’s wrong nor intelligent enough to offer any kind of meaningful response when challenged.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      When I wrote the item on June 3rd, I was largely neutral on the subject matter given all of the writings I’ve done about Sacramento.

      Part of that neutrality and willingness to listen was due in part to previous communication from past years from Jon (Frank) about issues he’s had with CSAC. I’ve listened.

      So, when I was called out for using the terms “kids MMA,” I promptly pointed out the obvious — which is that it wasn’t a term I made up out of thin air. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t understand the subject matter at hand nor does it mean that I did not give your side benefit of the doubt. I linked to the rules and regulations from your own web site so people could make up their own judgment on the subject matter.

      However, I would strongly suggest that the bombardment in the comments section over the last 36 hours from various backers (or a couple of people posting under various names) is a strategy that is only serving to alienate, not persuade readers who may have given you a chance in the court of public opinion.

      Instead of addressing the matter through a spokesman or through a couple of individuals, the response en masse has been the equivalent of Africanized killer bees trying to inflict a thousand stings at once and going after *me* when the issue you have in the first place is with Sacramento.

      Again, I am amazed that the responses to this item over the last 36 hours have basically been that I’m an idiot, ignorant of subject matter, and trying to side with Sacramento. You are on the agenda for Monday’s CSAC meeting in Los Angeles. If there’s media available from that session, I’d love to hear it. In fact, that was kind of what I was waiting for. I was waiting to see what your presentation was going to be in front of the commission about what is happening.

      I’m still interested in Monday’s meeting, but treating me as if I’m your roadblock and your enemy is bizarre. It’s a dumb strategy to get on my bad side.

  21. Mr. Bramlette says:

    Curious why you keep referring back to the statement, ” you don’t want to be on my bad side”. What are you referring too? I’m part if the ghetto side of the USFL just ask espn magazine. I would like to know?? NOW!!
    I have read everything stated on this thread. You sir seem to be the “dumbest” one.
    Simply you thought you would be nickel slick, but USFL supporters got you penny change fool!!!!!!
    Even your response to the 36 hr responses, was child’s play at best. Seems like some of the USFL supporters should be writing a blog. More interesting FACTS!!!
    Hope to see you at the meeting

  22. Clay Carpenter says:

    Zach Arnold,

    It may feel like you stepped in a nest of “Africanized Killer Bees” going after “You” but what is really going on is that you either intentionally or ignorantly completely misrepresented a combat sport that is enjoyed globally under the umbrella of FILA. You keep wanting to make this a personal attack with you as the victim but any objective reader can see that you have simply been called out for a very poorly written article. You have failed to answer any of the well articulated questions you have been asked.

    It would appear that you are representing yourself as an expert in all things related to combat sports and rather than admit to your ignorance on this topic you have chosen instead to dig your heels in to protect your ego. That is obvious to any objective reader.

    Why not address the issues that have been raised with your article? Why not admit that you left your readers with the impression that this was kids fighting UFC style rather than kids participating in a global FILA sport just like Freestyle and Greco Roman Wrestling?

    I would submit that not a single reader unfamiliar with FILA Pankration would have read your article and learned that there is a US based league under FILA where kids train to compete internationally in a safe and sensible form of MMA with no strikes to the head. You did a disservice to your readers when you mischaracterized the USFL and the sport our kids enjoy.

    I can understand why you would want one spokesperson to address your article but you did not write the USFL a letter, you wrote a public article that impacted many people who all have a “FightOpinion” about it. Instead of whining about the reaction why not stop being defensive and address the issues that have been raised about the content of your article?

    BTW your continued ad hominem attacks of course say nothing about the people taking you to task for your misleading article. It does however inform the reader on your level of maturity.

  23. Jim Virden says:

    Mr. Arnold,

    I’m sorry you feel personally attacked, but what did you expect when you mis-characterized a whole group of people with the video you included in your piece?
    Let me point out that I have not attacked you personally, but instead genuinely seek to understand the basis for your statements. I asked you simple, easy to answer questions and made respectful requests for the sources and documentation upon which you constructed your piece, yet you have ignored me and instead you chose to retaliate with what appear to be veiled threats.
    I am hopeful you will provide the answers and information I’ve respectfully requested, soon.

    Thank you once again.

  24. Suzette Medina says:

    Me Arnold,

    How sad you make it seem as your threatening our organization when its about the kids and youth not about us…. We are defending what our kids love when you seemed to attack and make fun of it with a stupid video representing us the parents! What would you expect it’s natural to speak up on your post since you posted it! And if you can have that mentality and threaten our organization of our youth because you want to get even with us goes to show what kind of person you are inside and true colors … I hope you open your heart a little for the kids! You brought us in to your page we didn’t solicit you!!!

  25. Jon Frank says:

    Mr. Arnold,

    This is a community based league essentially ran by a committee of coaches and volunteers. Parents are heavily involved just as AYSO, Pop Warner, Little League and every other activity for their kids. The main difference being the sport of MMA is very polarizing and much of that carries on to Youth Pankration.

    It is extremely easy for the media to post a quick snapshot of the sport, kids and their parents designed to draw controversy which in return draws views and ratings. Parents see this and obviously resent an incorrect and unsubstantiated categorization of the sport, their kids and themselves. This is why the huge response.

    Everyone of these posters is an individual somehow associated with the league and have first hand knowledge of what they are writing about. My main focus right now is to combat the negative stereotypes that are so rampant when it comes to the mainstream media. Each negative story impacts us politically. On day, we hope to have industry experts from the media come to us with any questions before posting an article. We are extremely transparent organization organization. If you are still interested, please send me your email and I can forward you the power point we plan on presenting to CSAC on Monday.


    Jon Frank

  26. Jim Virden says:

    Mr. Arnold,

    I want to point something out to you…the fact that words have meanings. Yes, as you point out, “Kids MMA” does appear on the FightLeague website. As someone who operates a web page, I am sure you understand the use of “search words” within a website to enhance the site’s ability to draw visitors. The words may or may not directly relate to the product or service being offered. You could have asked “why” were these words used, and you should have asked the the intended meaning of those words. I assume that you chose your words carefully so, when you state that you are being “attacked” by the very people you call “USFL defenders”, I would like to say, first of all, thank you for your honesty in calling us USFL defenders. That is precisely who we are. So, if we are USFL defenders, as you call us, doesn’t it logically follow that the USFL the one under attack? By the way, I hereby withdraw my previous request for answers and information. I mistakenly thought that opinions were based on facts and knowledge, but I read the definition of the word “Opinion” and now understand that Fight Opinion is bound to rely on neither.
    A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

  27. Ty Hutchison says:

    Mr. Arnold,

    C’mon. Really? Do you realize how ridiculous your statements about people ‘coming after you’ and such make you look? Maybe it’s because you are so entrenched in a media mentality which makes you naturally sensationalize everything for maximum emotional effect. Just a guess, I honestly don’t know. What happened is very simple. You voiced your opinion with your piece. And, in response, the people your piece effects voiced thiers regarding it. Period. Nobody threatened you. But you actually threatened, if not us, then our cause by implying that it would not be wise to alienate someone such as you who controls such a forum as you do.

    I wish you had been neutral. You claim to have been, yet you demonstrated just the opposite. Let me give you my rationale for this claim: 1) MMA has two meanings. The first is the simple one, a form of martial arts combining grappling arts such as wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu with striking arts such as boxing, muay thai, etc into one integrated system. The second is the sensational, blood stained mat, professional version. As someone who does what you do, I’m sure you’re aware of this. FightLeague uses the term in the first sense. You seemed to be trying to construe thier use of it as being in the second sense and to garner an emotional reaction based on this verbal sleight of hand. 2) You used an exerpt from thier waiver which included the words “serious injury or death” without acknowledging that such waivers are required of virtually any voluntary activity involving any type of risk, such as football, trampoline play, or horse back riding. 3) You spent the last half of your article higlighting the pending deal with Pilgrim films, prefacing it by basically stating that ‘this is why you should care about this’ and concluding with the Jamie Kennedy video which you had to know would have the effect of characterizing certain people. Given these things, what did you expect us to think? That you were neutral? Wow.

    I wish you had been willing to listen. Once again, you claim to be, but you demonstrate the opposite. Yes, some of the responses got a little personal, but your article left people feeling personally slighted. The vast majority of the responses you got were comprised of actual explanations and very succinct questions. You acknowledged none of the explanations. You answered none of the questions. You asked none yourself. Those are the hallmarks of ‘listening’, those three things. You did none. Instead, in a manner smacking of the utmost immaturity, you brushed it all off as ‘dumb’. Given these things, what did you expect us to think, that you were listening? Once again…wow.

    So, what was my aim with all of this? Honestly, I was hoping that, given all the information you’ve been offered and the pointed questions you’ve been asked, you would have the honesty and humility to admit that you misspoke and mischaracterized, and that you would try to set things right. But I can see how, in your world, to do so might damage your credibility and how the ‘wiser’ course would be to backtrack and divert. I can’t do much about that other than call it what it is when I see it. The info is still there in our previous posts, as are the questions. They’re what this is all about.

  28. […] Last July, we wrote an article about the brewing battle between the United States Fight League and the California State Athletic Commission. ABC, via their long-standing news program Nightline, grilled Sacramento about the kids pankration events happening throughout the state (and Arizona). The events happen both at traditional gyms and also on tribal land at casinos. […]


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