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Fox Sports: "Zach Arnold's Fight Opinion site is one of the best spots on the Web for thought-provoking MMA pieces."

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Andy Foster brilliantly gambled on being both the California fight boss & acting like a quasi-UFC agent to gain fame and power

By Zach Arnold | December 30, 2018

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California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer Andy Foster was essentially exchanged a B-level Anaheim January UFC event for a mega last-minute Jon Jones UFC fight in December. All on the premise that Jon Jones somehow was the world’s most unfortunately unlucky drug testing fighter. Marc Raimondi has a great article on MMA Fighting explaining how UFC, Jon Jones, and California managed to profit on what social commentator Scott Adams labels as the “confusopoly.” You wanted a clean sport? Well, you’re just going to have to accept all the confusion that comes with it.

This kind of gamble of being “pro-fighter” and “promoter-friendly” has been the hallmark of Andy Foster’s tenure as Executive Officer of the California State Athletic Commission. It is paying off. California is back to being a $2 million a year state because Nevada’s commission is in complete disarray and the other big boy athletic commissions have failed to take advantage of the situation. Given California’s income tax situation, it’s a rather remarkable accomplishment.

That accomplishment has been buttressed by some very friendly circumstances.

First, UFC spent big cash through their Sacramento lobbyist Tim Lynch at Platinum Advisors to act as the political muscle on behalf of UFC & Andy Foster’s interests. Not a single fight writer has ever, curiously, delved into this topic. Of all of the early success Andy Foster had in California, a significant amount of credit belongs to the cash UFC spent — not only to control the outcome but to exert heavy influence over the Athletic Commission.

Second, California is back to collecting taxes on pro-wrestling shows while doing no work whatsoever. The amount of revenue on the budget sheets from wrestling is rather large. There hasn’t been any fight over this development.

Third, UFC managed to keep their best possible outcome with Andy Foster staying in California when it all but looked like he was heading to Nevada after Keith Kizer chaotically resigned. The world would look a whole lot different if Foster had left for Vegas. Vegas politicos didn’t want the Southern boy in power. What they didn’t gamble on was the Fertittas selling UFC to outside owners and relegating Nevada’s commission to lower-tier status in terms of political power.

The whole game changed when Nevada’s athletic commission was forced to self-finance and was no longer attached to a general state budget fund. It turned Nevada’s commission into any other state AC.

UFC correctly gambled on Andy Foster staying in California. UFC 232 was the blossoming fruit from the poisonous tree.

You scratch my back, I scratch yours. He promised $2 million dollar years in California and, by God, he’s doing it. At what price or what level of integrity, who cares. There isn’t a better comment to sum up Andy Foster’s no-risk-move in approving Jon Jones for UFC 232 in Inglewood than this comment by veteran MMA writer Luke Thomas:

Andy Foster’s easiest — but largest — gamble was assuming that not a single soul in the fight or local press would ever take him on regarding any controversy or scandal. Andy Foster can act like a quasi-UFC agent while drawing a sweet Sacramento paycheck.

Consider some of the various stories the press has soft-balled or ignored over the last five years:

These situations would have gotten every other major athletic commission big boss fired.

What Andy Foster discovered was that there was no one to stop him from doing what he wanted to do. The lobbyists. The attorneys at Consumer Affairs. The paper pushers. He managed to use the people who thought they were using or controlling him in the first place.

Combined with naked ambition, zero fear of a toothless press corps, and a lack of employee will to file lawsuits and you have a formula that no longer requires UFC or Andy Foster to tip toe around what matters the most to them.

There’s nothing stopping Andy Foster from making 2019 his biggest and most lucrative campaign to date.

Topics: CSAC, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | No Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

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