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Was a nasal inhaler used at the UFC Sacramento show?

By Zach Arnold | December 15, 2013

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It’s been an interesting week for the California State Athletic Commission. As you are reading this, they are having a year-end meeting at Consumer Affairs HQ. At that meeting, a boxing manager/chief second named Rodrigo Mosquera is supposed to appear. He was suspended by Andy Foster on November 21st for his role in having a fighter named Ricardo Rodriguez wearing altered gloves at a September 20th show (Quiet Cannon) in Montebello, California.

On Friday night at the Golden Boy FS1 event in Indio (Fantasy Springs resort & casino), Mosquera showed up on television as a chief in-ring second for fighter Francisco Vargas. He did so while being on suspension with the commission. Mosquera could clearly be seen on television in between rounds with Vargas. Complicating matters is that apparently the athletic inspectors on the ground allegedly did not know Mosquera was suspended. The public only found out about the November 21st suspension when CSAC published a 150-page document dump on Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, up North in Sacramento for the UFC event, everything on the surface appeared to go smoothly for the Arco Arena show. No judging controversies. No referee screw-ups. However, behind the scenes, the dirt (and complaints) were flying on Sunday in many conversations I had with sources from all different factions (fighters, regulators, staffers).

A universal complaint involved some of the newer athletic inspectors busy taking pictures with fighters and spending lots of time on their phones texting & not doing their job. Even I noticed that happening on camera while watching the Fox broadcast of the UFC event. There is a perceived attitude problem with many of the newcomers feeling that they run the show now and that their political connections enable them to behave the way they do. A huge complaint being lobbied against the newer inspectors is that their top priority is getting as much television time as possible. As one fight camp representative labeled it, dealing with the new guys is like dealing with the Keystone Cops and is desirable as a nosebleed.

Which is a hell of a segue into what transpired Saturday night in the cage during the Chad Mendes vs. Nik Lentz fight that aired on Fox broadcast television. There was some interest backstage & also amongst officials who didn’t work the Arco Arena about what was being shown on camera in between rounds in the Mendes/Lentz fight.

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Mendes, who got crushed by Joe Rogan on commentary for not being more dominant in his fight performance, claimed that he was suffering from a sinus infection. However, it was what was transpiring in Lentz’s corner that drew attention.

This picture is what appears to be a cut man holding Lentz’s nose. When the Fox cameras focused in on Lentz’s corner, Big John McCarthy had approached the corner and said, “Watch the elbows to the back of the head.” A person in the corner responds by saying “yes, sir.” On camera, it appears that the athletic inspector (Stephen Sims?) does his job getting as close as possible to watch the fighter.

As the cut man is holding Lentz’s nose, he says: “Nice couple of deep breaths.” He then gives instructions to Lentz while using what appears to be some sort of nasal inhaler. Or was it? It should be noted that Lentz was bleeding from the nose.

One source, who watched the video carefully, guessed that what was being used was an afrin inhaler. Another source thought that the inhaler was being used to administer legal cut medicine to stop the bleeding. That same source, however, said they didn’t have previous experience dealing with such meds being given via an inhaler. Usually a Q-tip or cotton swab is used with adrenaline 1:1000. This ESPN magazine guide with Stitch Duran lays out the various methods of dealing with cuts/bleeding.

We contacted many sources to ask whether or not permission was given to use an inhaler during the fight. We were told that one UFC fighter, in pre-fight exams, indicated the need for an inhaler and was given the OK. The name was not immediately available.

Here is where things get cloudy. According to multiple veteran sources, fighters can use inhalers before a fight as long as they get clearance. However, once a fight starts, they cannot use an inhaler or else it results in an automatic disqualification. The same sources, when viewing the Fox broadcast video of the corner in-between rounds, all agreed that the use of a nasal inhaler was a big no-no and should have not been allowed to happen.

What drew the attention of officials who saw the video of the (supposed) inhaler is that it was used in front of the regulators and nobody protested.

“They can’t say it wasn’t an inhaler because they were instructing the fighter to take deep breaths,” argued a well-respected state regulator (on background).

Does it matter whether or not an inhaler was used as opposed to a cotton swab? Inside the business, there’s some intrigue on the issue. However, it’s not an issue that is going to move the needle for anyone on the outside-looking-in.

The Lentz situation wasn’t the only TV corner catch on Saturday night, as there was some questioning about what Alex Ariza was up to in Marcos Maidana’s corner for the Alamo Dome fight with Adrien Broner.

As for California, the morale behind the scenes with many of the older regulators is low. There is a high level of frustration about what they view as a collapse in the quality of regulatory work being performed. Fighters, privately, are also growing increasing critical about what they are witnessing with changes being made regarding the amount of staffing at shows and, most importantly, who is getting selected to work shows. Even the fighters are catching onto which inspectors are getting booked and asking why political connections, from their vantage point, are playing such a prominent role in what is happening on the ground.

In other words, those who are not in the political scene are very upset with what they see as a commission being entirely controlled by political fixers at Consumer Affairs who have strong ties to the state Capitol. Many of the top officials at DCA were former chief-of-staffs or advisers to the top power brokers.

When you have managers and seconds at shows still working despite being suspended by Sacramento, that’s a sign or either complete disrespect or horrible communication. Nobody fears anyone right now. The MMA side of the equation is viewed much differently than the boxing side of the equation. On the boxing side, respect for Sacramento right now is extremely low and there is a very high level of disregard about what is taking place. Seconds and trainers are becoming more aggressive in cheating because they think the chances of beating the system are pretty good and, even if they get caught, the repercussions are weak because the enforcement is toothless.

Are these opinions fair? Unfair? The truth usually is somewhere in the middle. The problem is that when you are regulating combat sports, you’re regulating an industry that is legally classified as ultrahazardous and all it takes is one slip, one screw-up, and somebody can seriously get hurt or killed.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 9 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

9 Responses to “Was a nasal inhaler used at the UFC Sacramento show?”

  1. The Predictable Johnny Rodz says:

    Man, you’re really reaching for this one …

    • Zach Arnold says:

      I would agree with your sentiments if I had made a declarative statement about an inhaler being used. The answer is that I made multiple calls through various channels to get an answer and so far, no dice.

      Would it have changed the outcome of that fight? No. And I don’t think anyone who brought up the issue at the show or in regulatory circles would make that argument. The focus was not about the fighter but about the regulators.

  2. Alan Conceicao says:

    While you were chasing this story, Angel Osuna (Hugo Centeno Jr’s opponent Friday evening at Fantasy Springs) was put into a medically induced coma and was brought out, and is expected to be hospitalized at least through the rest of the week, if not significantly longer. I guess that wasn’t as important a story?

  3. Chris says:

    Point well made Zach. I also think it’s interesting that Alex Ariza is spotted doing something suspect. This is right after his fighter Brandon Rios fails his post fight drug test from the Pacquiao fight.

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    In the comical world of MMA…. Ronda Rousey is now in the UFC Pound 4 Pound Top 10 list.

    The list itself is bad enough. If all of the fighters were equal weight, who would be the best. That is the purpose of the P4P rankings. It is sort of like geeks talking about who would win in a fight…. Gandalf or Yoda.

    Now that they are adding females to the list. The hypothetical question is one step further. Because even if Ronda was a Heavyweight, she wouldn’t even be in the Top 10 of that division. And she certainly isn’t even a Top 50 Bantamweight in the world compared to the guys.

    So the PFP list now includes…. If Ronda had a penis and was as physically gifted as a guy…. How would she stack up to the competition. And enough “MMA Journalists” have voted for her.

  5. Wes says:

    Using an inhaler is illegal to use by California State Athletic Commission rules. Having been there for over 2 and 1/2 years this is some that is not allowed and inspectors have been trained this subject. There were other devices that were attempted to be used between rounds and the rule is very clear on what can be used on a fighter and an inhaler is not one of them.

  6. frank says:

    for all this cheating that is going on.will be mma ufc downfall.ppv I don’t pay to watch cheaters anymore


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