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You were warned: John McCain admits a motive behind brain study DC presser

By Zach Arnold | February 4, 2014

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The puppetmaster, Sig Rogich, put on a show for the media writers who either didn’t know or didn’t want to talk about the motives behind the UFC/boxing Lou Ruvo brain study press conference in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.

Nevada’s most powerful political fixer, top UFC political fixer, and close political ally of Harry Reid & John McCain orchestrated a slick diversion to push the alleged generosity of fight promoters who have donated cash to the Cleveland Clinic to study brain damage amongst hundreds of fighters.

And, as I noted last Friday, it was a public relations tactic to try to justify why the Ali Act shouldn’t be amended for MMA and why promoters & athletic commissions shouldn’t be sued in the future for concussion-related or testosterone-related lawsuits.

On Tuesday, John McCain didn’t even pretend to hold back on the motive of the press conference. The man who pushed the Ali Act to cover boxing says that MMA regulation should be a states rights issue. Fox Sports:

MMA is not all the way there yet. A reporter asked McCain on Tuesday if he wants to regulate “extreme fighting” on a federal level, which nearly made Fertitta grimace.

“That was kind of a bummer — any time I hear ‘cage’ or ‘extreme fighting’ or something like that,” Fertitta said. “But compared to what it used to be? That’s nothing. I’ll take that all day long.”

McCain’s answer to the question was political in nature.

“You want to be very careful not to encroach on the state’s abilities to do this regulation,” McCain said.

Lorenzo grimaced because the reporter probably saw through the political palaver of McCain. The man touting federal regulation for boxing is not touting it for MMA, a sport that he supposedly isn’t a fan of?

The point of the presser was to give people in combat sports political cover from federal oversight of all combat sports by using the Lou Ruvo Cleveland Clinic brain study as a shield. The puppetmaster Sig Rogich strikes again.

Someone ought to make sure that the next time Teddy Atlas sounds off about extensive federal regulation needed in combat sports, he can thank Sig Rogich and the parties he represents for not accomplishing such regulatory oversight.

In various conversations I’ve had with MMA writers this past weekend, not one writer recognized the name Sig Rogich or even knew of his background despite the months worth of articles I’ve written on him (you can read them here). Rogich is the most powerful political fixer for the UFC in both Nevada and Washington D.C. Rogich has political power that can be used in dangerous ways. It’s time for the press to do their job and start dirt-digging on the man who is basically orchestrating political favors for a lot of well-monied individuals. If the press continues to treat Rogich with kid gloves, that will be slimy behavior on display.

Topics: Boxing, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 31 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

31 Responses to “You were warned: John McCain admits a motive behind brain study DC presser”

  1. klown says:

    It’s laudable that the UFC, Viacom, Top Rank and Golden Boy are cooperating with and contributing financially to the study. I wonder what the significance is, though. What will be done with the results? Are the promoters saying they’d be willing to implement reforms to reduce harm to athletes?

  2. Chris says:

    Thanks Zach. Another one of these issues that should get major play. But will be lazily ignored by major sports news outlets.

  3. Matt says:

    I assumed that the involvement of Reid and McCain indicated that this effort must be corrupt on some level. It looks like I was right.

    For my next trick, I will predict what day follows Wednesday.

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    Completely agree with Jeff Wagenheim’s comment.

    1) When a fighter has not inflicted enough brain damage on his opponent in a fight, he is less likely to get a title shot with a win.

    2) When a fighter is more of a grappler, he is more likely to be cut from the roster in a quicker fashion.

    3) When too many fights on the card have incurred less brain damage, Dana White complains about the card being boring.

    4) When there are a lot of great KO’s, Dana White is super happy.


    Fertitta and White being in bed with politicians also helps them on three other fronts:

    1) Less likely to be considered a monopoly.

    2) Less likely to be included in the Ali Act.

    3) Less likely for the fighters to form a union. It will take political intervention to form a UFC Fighter’s Union. The reason is because they are independent contractors and legally they can’t unionize. That can be worked around if they want to pass a law to do so. That is much less likely when the big guys in Washington are working with the company heads instead.

  5. Diaz's cashed bowl says:

    UFC, Viacom, Top Rank and Golden Boy’s contribution is standard “pay to play, pay to look the other way” money.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      If they were really were so concerned, they wouldn’t be jumping to their feet and cheering when a major KO happens.

  6. Rob Maysey says:

    I publicly complained about Joe Silva jumping around celebrating when a fighter is unconscious–to his credit, he has greatly subdued his reactions.

  7. Rob Maysey says:

    This is prior to hearing the prefight speeches the athletes get from Dana White–Zuffa strongly encourages one sort of result.

  8. Simon says:

    If it’s not one thing it’s another with you guys.

    You sound like a punch of pussy’s.
    Some of the conclusions and assumptions you guys come up with are very suspect and not without bias, and it shows.

    “Dana White’s pre-fight speeches cause brain damage”. Rob, shut up. You failed. I was 100% behind your “Fighters Association”, but then you started getting called out because it wasn’t strong enough in favor of the fighters. So you cave and change your precept real quick like and jump on the “Fighters need to Unionize” bandwagon.

    Fighters get hit in the head. It’s a contact sport. The only other option is to put headgear on. If you don’t believe that in the purest, truest sense, that an MMA match is safer than Boxing, then you are as ruefully blind as I thought you were.

    This is the very definition of a combat sport. Punching someone in the face is obviously dangerous, but is it any more dangerous than a All-Pro Linebacker breaking an outside block and blindsiding the Quarterback? Or a Safety running head on with a full steam straight into the running back’s head? Or any of the numerous ways slot receivers are repeatedly hit at full speed?

    Physics has serious potential risks on the human body and anytime two fully grown, fully padded men run into each other at full speed, that’s a recipe for disaster. And it shows. Thousands of ex-players are realizing how fucked up their lives are and how they got that way.

    So if it’s inevitable that combat sports are here to stay, no one will ever get Football to cease to exist, nor will they get boxing or mma to disappear. Then what it comes down to is, Isn’t it really up to each player, each fighter, each person, Us, to decide if we want to play or fight or get hit or take our lumps or test ourselves?

    And isn’t what this study is about? To help find definitive information and let each one of us decide if we want to be part of it or not? All this bitch and nit picking and assumptions and shining spot lights at everything hoping to catch a rat scurring is beginning to become rediculous.

    It’s starting to become a parody of itself, almost like a witch hunt. Which is exactly why some people are bloggers and some people are writers. You want to know something? Address that person in a way that they can see what you’re asking and they can respond accordingly.

    All this shit accomplishes is absolutely nothing in terms of the way Zuffa thinks. What it does do is it serves to give a place, or a voice, for a certain group of the fanbase that think their opinion on things are the final say and they’re right and no one else can be right because they’re all wrong and you have all the answers. That’s circular logic and it’s bullshit.

    Each and everyone of you, Zach and Rob especially, can reach Dana or Lorenzo, they talk to people on twitter quite often, or in Dana’s case, he’s also on the Underground, and if you know who to talk to, its fairly easy to get Dana’s attention. So why not do it? Why not get a press pass and go to one of these Pre-Fight/Post-Fight press conferences and ask him questions. Allege whatever you want, isn’t that what those instances are for.

    It just seems so silly to me that this whole time I’ve read this site, every article that has been written since that time, I’ve read. But not once in that entire time has Zach ever got over on Dana by physically contacting Dana and catching him with his pants down.

    Not one time with Lorenzo either. Hell, you talked as much shit about Keith Kizer and I don’t think even he knew about your criticism. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.

    My point hasn’t changed.

    You still avoid directly calling out Dana, or try to get in on one of those press meetings where everybody chums up.

    Sometimes it’s as simple as hitting the little @ sign before you spell his name.

    • Brett says:

      Totally agree Simon, this site has turned into the MMA version of Alex Jones Info wars website. Theres not even any analysis on actual fighting, its pretty much just trying to connect dots to form a conspiracy theory.

      • Zach Arnold says:

        I remain amused that the one criticism universally trotted out for any controversial story I’ve ever covered (PRIDE yakuza scandal, downfall of Elite XC, testosterone plague, etc.) is that it’s all just a bunch of conspiracy talk with no basis in merit.

        I will gladly put up my track record against any writer over the last two decades in MMA when it comes to discussing taboos and scandals in the industry.

    • Zheroen says:

      “You sound like a punch of pussy’s.”

      What an astute and remarkably well-reasoned riposte.

    • 45 Huddle says:


      Nobody here will say that I am anti-Zuffa. If anything, I am considered far too Pro-Zuffa on this website. And I can say what you are saying is so full of garbage it borderlines of comedy. Nobody is saying this isn’t a combat sport. Everybody knows there are risks involved with fighting.

      The reason why Zuffa looks so silly being part of this study is because they run their business as a complete contradiction of what they are claiming to care about. Here are many examples:

      1) Zuffa fires fighters who don’t inflict enough damage on their opponents. Jon Fitch, Yushin Okami, and others and pure examples of this.

      2) Zuffa puts fighters on the undercard who don’t inflict enough damage on their opponents. It is only when they get more exciting do they get a promotion up to the main cards. Nik Lentz, Jacob Volkmann, and Mike Pierce are great examples of this.

      3) Zuffa refuses to sign great prospects because they are too “boring” with grappling. Ben Askren is all of the examples you need for this.

      4) Fighters who are more exciting get a quicker turn around on their fights. Donald Cerrone is an example of this, while more grappler centric fighters have to wait out much longer for a paycheck.

      5) Dana White won’t guarantee a title shot to the winner of a fight. He will say they are in the running. This is his way of saying that they better put on a good enough “show”, or they won’t get a title shot. And by show, it means going for the KO.

      6) Bonuses are more likely to be awarded to fighters who inflict the most amount of brain damage to his opponents. Wild Slug Fests that have much less technique then other fights are much more likely to get FOTN honors. This is the UFC using money as a way to sway fighters to do less grappling and more striking.

      7) Dana White “loves” fighters like Leonard Garcia who can lose like 5 fights in a row in the UFC. Yet a fighter like Jon Fitch loses 1 fight and gets cut. That sends a message to the fighters that you have to stand and bang or be at risk of being cut from the UFC. That promotes MORE BRAIN DAMAGE!!!!!

      8 When a fighter “plays it safe”, Dana White bashes him in the media. Dana White doesn’t like when fighters just try to win. He wants them to hit their opponent as much as possible in order to put on a good show.

      Do I need to go on?

      What you are saying sounds nice, but it is garbage. What Dana White and company have done is created a culture of violence. A company culture that rewards the MOST brain damage inflicted on their opponents. There are so many ways to win a fight. But Zuffa will absolutely play favorites to the ones that do the exact OPPOSITE of what they care to claim about in this brain study.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        And this is why what Zach is writing about is so crucial. It is a smoke and mirrors show by Fertitta and White. It is a way to lessen potential future lawsuits from fighters. They can say: “Hey, we were on your side from the beginning”.

        But the reality is that they are NOT on the fighters side. Every one of their actions shows they are on the side that promotes more brain damage to fighters. And somebody needs to call them out on it.

  9. Simon says:

    According to Rob, Joe Silva, one of the most influential and powerful men in MMA, has to sit there and show no expression, no emotion. Or should he be heartless and without mercy?

    The guy whose job it is to set exciting matches, to pair top level fighters in such a way as to avoid any hiccups down the road for either fighter. Pit them against competitive counterparts with opposing skills. In order to do so, he has to get to know each fighter and learn their personality, their tenacity, their personal drive and commitment, and by doing so he gets a very informed picture of how he might be able to map out any particular weight classes landscape.

    Yet you think because he shows emotion that he’s some how wrong for doing so? From what I’ve seen for a really long time is Joe Silva freaking out anytime he sees one fighter get knocked out unconscious while standing and before the fighter hits the mat, Joe’s in hysterics, hoping the other fighter doesn’t throw an unnecessary follow up blow that really could do brain damage.

    Which sort of brings me back to some of what I said above. Once we get our refs and judges straightened out, we’ll begin to see less and less unnecessary punches hopefully due to refs being more reactive and quicker to stop a fight. As MMA seems to be at it’s core designed to be safer than boxing, the difference in glove weight and styles becomes an important factor in determining if there is a difference in getting punched a few times by 4 ounce gloves and getting punched a bunch by 16 ounce gloves.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      As MMA seems to be at it’s core designed to be safer than boxing, the difference in glove weight and styles becomes an important factor in determining if there is a difference in getting punched a few times by 4 ounce gloves and getting punched a bunch by 16 ounce gloves.

      So far, the study results from the Lou Ruvo trials indicates that MMA is no safer than boxing and that the kind of brain damage being inflicted with the smaller gloves is leading to symptoms like slurred speech faster than damage suffered from pugilistica dementia.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Why do people only talk about punching when it comes to brain damage of fighters?

      What about kicks? We all know that a kick has much more force behind it when thrown.

      What do you think happens to the brain when the head is hit by a perfectly placed kick?

      I am no expert, but something tells me there is much more damage happening then from any sort of punch happening in boxing or MMA.

      • Chuck says:

        Don’t forget about broken bones and ligament damage from armbars, kneebars, heel hooks, etc. Very little threat of that happening in a boxing match.

    • Chuck says:

      “As MMA seems to be at it’s core designed to be safer than boxing, the difference in glove weight and styles becomes an important factor in determining if there is a difference in getting punched a few times by 4 ounce gloves and getting punched a bunch by 16 ounce gloves.”

      Uh…what? Dude, have you ever seen the early UFC events? I have (first one for me being UFC 5)! Gloves being optional, low blows allowed up to UFC 3, shoes being allowed up to I think UFC 6, punches to the back of the head allowed for a long time, etc. If you seriously think all of that is “designed to be safer than boxing” then you have a seriously warped view of safety.

      The ONLY thing that MMA MAY (and I stress that word here) have over boxing in being less dangerous (I will not use the word “safe” here. Less dangerous is a better term) is that, on average, less punches are thrown because of the smaller gloves and the threat of takedowns (along with grappling in general). But, in reality, it is no safer than boxing.

      The whole notion of mma being safer than boxing is naive and ignorant of the facts. Once mma is more wide-spread on a world-wide basis and we start seeing small rinky-dink shows in third world countries is when we start seeing the real damage the sport will have on most participants.

      • zack says:

        Chuck…here’s a fun fact for you:

        Low blows were actually illegal in UFC 1, but then were made legal for UFC 2.

        • Chuck says:

          Really? I did not know that. I actually never saw UFC 1 in completion. Only fights here or there on whatever compilations. I started with UFC 5 (saw it live on ppv), went back and saw UFCs 2-4 (Blockbuster. I guess my former Blockbuster didn’t have UFC 1) and saw just about all of them after that until the TUF era where it got too expensive (I got the ppvs for free though. Remember the “illegal” DirecTV cards?). The last UFC ppv I saw in consecutive order and stopped briefly was UFC 33. Coincidence? Yeah, probably.

    • Rob Maysey says:

      I think running around the ring celebrating–when you are the promoter of BOTH athletes, while one is unconscious is gross–yes.

      Notice Joe doesn’t do this anymore.

  10. Diaz's cashed bowl says:

    Watching boxing greats as kid on WWOS, I was not very impressed as boxers were very limited. I realized that I would beat a boxer pretty easy with some judo, back yard wrestling and kicking. I was never a fan of boxing, it just seemed stupid. like the movies where the guy knocks a guy down,picks him up and punches him again. Inefficient and stupid, he’s on the ground, leave him there, or kick him in the head if you still have to vent.

    Then I saw ufc 2, It had the variety of styles and technique to shut down an attacker, rather than stand in front of them exchanging blows to the head for 45 minutes. This was no movie fight, it was a platform to showcase grappling as a method of self defense and I was Hooked.

    However 20 years later this key fact has been forgotten, fighters are now expected to “perform” and the term “finish in spectacular fashion” is always bandied about in pre fight interviews. With the TUF show dancers the ufc has been dumbed down and is now just the same sloppy boxing show I found distasteful as a kid.

    Now if you keep punching after the ref has called a stop like Rampage vs Wand 3, your ufc credit goes way up. But if you crank an ankle too long(in self defense against a guy who wants to punch your head off i might add) you are done in the ufc.

    • Chuck says:

      “Now if you keep punching after the ref has called a stop like Rampage vs Wand 3, your ufc credit goes way up. But if you crank an ankle too long(in self defense against a guy who wants to punch your head off i might add) you are done in the ufc.”

      It is hypocritical, but there was way more heat against Palhares and Babalu for their late submissions than Rampage’s fake punches to Wanderlei after the ref stopped it. I still think rampage should have been disqualified and fined for that, but it didn’t happen.

  11. Diaz's cashed bowl says:

    Or Dan’s diving hammer blow to Bisping who’s toes were clearly curling up like Charlie Chaplins boots!
    Listen to poor bisping after that…

    If the fact that package graphics on all three UFC yearly compilations shows ONLY fighters striking leads you to conclude there is a bias towards stand up battles.
    Look no further than the Askren situation for proof that UFC has purposefully promoted punching over grappling. Dropping fighters like Paul Sass after one loss is similar as he’s a young master grappler who won’t be winning any striking wars anytime soon.

  12. Zach Arnold says:

    Alan Conceicao wrote:

    Are you claiming you brought down EXC?

    No. Gary Shaw & Jeremy Lappen did more than enough on that front.

  13. The Predictable Johnny Rodz says:

    Everyone has skipped around and ignored Simon’s main point: In all these years, for all the accusations hurled out and vague allusions of vast conspiracies, Zach has never once attempted to ask these big, huge, important questions of his directly. Never tweeted them directly at White and Fertitta. Never showed up at a press event, many of which are open to the public and opened up to fan questions, even when they’re in his backyard. Hell, for that matter, never once been to a California State Athletic Commission meeting and asked a question. Hell, we’ve never even seen a picture of Zach Arnold, not even in his Facebook profile. And we’re going on what, a decade of this site? I guess it’s easier to keep a small but loyal audience by making unprovable conspiracy allegations and complaining that reporters aren’t doing their job than it is to actually lift a finger and ask a question yourself.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Hell, for that matter, never once been to a California State Athletic Commission meeting and asked a question.

      And if you’ve ever been to one of their meetings, you know that people in the audience can only issue public comment and the commissioners cannot answer in return.

      Additionally, it’s Consumer Affairs that runs the show and not the commissioners itself. Glossing over this is completely missing the picture on who makes decisions and why.

      Hell, we’ve never even seen a picture of Zach Arnold, not even in his Facebook profile. And we’re going on what, a decade of this site? I guess it’s easier to keep a small but loyal audience by making unprovable conspiracy allegations and complaining that reporters aren’t doing their job than it is to actually lift a finger and ask a question yourself.

      The people who have been named over the years know who I am — and often discuss what I say in meetings or on listservs or other forms of communication. They all know how to get a hold of me directly if they want to talk — I’m not a hard person to call or find.

      That said, there are security reasons why I don’t post photos of myself online and why, despite having a public profile, I maintain a semblance of privacy. I’ve had many threats over the years, whether it’s in person or over the phone or in writing, against me that turned out to be credible. I’ve had sources threatened in the past with extortion or threats of losing their jobs. I’m going to do everything I can to protect sources so that there is a level of trust to communicate with me.

      And I continue to marvel at the critics labeling what I’ve written as conspiracy material level writing when the majority of what I have written has completely turned out to be truthful & accurate and would hold up in a court of law.

      By the way, I’ve told this story before but I’ll mention it again. At the June 2012 CSAC meeting in El Monte, California to determine the fate of George Dodd, one of the commissioners mistook another person as being yours truly and proceeded to challenge the guy to a fist fight in the parking lot.

  14. […] Sig was present at the Washington D.C. presser in which you had promoters in both MMA & boxing pushing the Lou Ruvo Cleveland Clinic fighter brain study. The connections between Arum, Reid, Rogich, and the Fertittas aren’t a state secret. One can […]


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