In case you missed it, the long-discussed eight-person single elimination MMA tournament is no longer happening at the Patriot Center on Sept. 10. That's the most important fact. But beyond that, this whole thing is becoming a big debacle very quickly.
Last Friday, Shine Fights, the promotion group that was organizing the tournament, decided to move the event from Fairfax to Oklahoma because they were denied a license by the Virginia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Program. The reason? Shine Fights was unable to provide pretty much all of the necessary documentation on time, including the paperwork that would ensure the fighters would actually get paid.
In response, Shine Fights packed up and moved the fight to Newkirk, Okla., on an Indian reservation outside the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission. Problem solved, right? Not exactly.
According to a report on MMARising.com, any fighter who participates in the new Shine Fights Grand Prix will be suspended for 60-90 days for participating in an unsanctioned event. Shine Fights had previously denied the news, but MMA Rising has confirmed the suspension plans. This won't stop any of the fighters from participating in other unsanctioned events, but it's the most the Association of Boxing Commissions can do to provide some form of punishment.
In addition, the Oklahoma commission is looking into filing an injunction to stop the event, according to MMA Junkie. This isn't something they do often, because there are many unlicensed events that occur, but they evidently feel this event is dangerous enough to do it.
This isn't the first time Shine Fights has had an issue with paying its fighters. As Brent Brookhouse of SBNation.com notes, Shine Fights is the same promotion that canceled a Din Thomas/Ricardo Mayorga fight at the last minute several months ago, with several fighters and officials claiming they were not paid. In that situation, it was an injunction filed by Don King that forced the cancellation.
SB Nation's Bloody Elbow writes that this is a lesson to all of us about just how difficult it is to properly put together a big MMA event like this.
Anyone who thinks it's easy to promote MMA should really examine this case study and MMA fighters once again learn that they have to be very careful who they do business with.
The ultimate losers here are MMA fans hoping to see a cool event in the D.C. area. Here's hoping the next scheduled MMA event here will be much better planned than this.