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ASK THE COMMISSION: What's the process for accepting/denying fights? Print E-mail
Written by Matt Schowalter   
Thursday, 29 May 2014 20:11

(EDITOR'S NOTE: "Ask the Commission" is a weekly feature in which Matt Schowalter or someone else from the Minnesota Combative Sports Commission will tackle your questions. If you have questions for the commission, send them to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Enjoy!)


 

QUESTION: What is your process for deciding which fights to approve and which to turn down? What's looked at?

Approving bouts is one of the most difficult parts of regulation.

You have to decide if you are going to approve bouts based on the likelihood of serious injury, even matchups, what's good for the sport, or what's in the fighter's best interest in terms of health. Most people would tell you that all of the factors should come into play, well, until their fight gets denied. Then they feel that one of the other factors should be weighed more heavily than the one that caused their fight to get denied.

No matter what the skill level, record or health of a fighter, they will all tell you the same thing: "I'll fight anyone, anywhere, anytime." And on occasion they will usually follow that up with, "For the right price."

A fighter's career means a lot to them. They want to start out strong and stay on a winning pace. Losing a bout could mean the difference between being the first fight of the night, or the main event. It's the difference between wearing a pair of gym shorts from Walmart in your fights and having logos plastered all over your specially made fight shorts. One wrong move and a promising career could end up being wasted talent.

Because of this, fighters want to put themselves in the best possible position to win every fight they take. It's our job to ensure that it's not a completely lopsided match.

Reviewing fights always reminds me of the old WWF. You'd have Dusty Trunks waiting in the corner while The Ultimate Warrior came out to lights, smoke machines and a video entrance. You knew before the match started who was going to win. So there are a few things that we look at when approving fights.

The first thing we look at is both fighters' records. A fighter's initial record can give us some sort of an idea as to how much experience they have. Even though a fighter may not have the best record, each fight they take does add up in experience. Someone making their debut is at a huge disadvantage. They aren't used to the lights, the crowd, the pressure, etc.

A fighter who's been in that situation a few times knows what to expect and is more comfortable in that setting. When looking at a record, we will also look at the records of the people they have fought and the outcome of those bouts. If a guy has a losing record and his losses are happening in the first round against guys with losing records then that tells us he's probably not ready to fight a guy with a winning

record. But if a guy with a losing record is going the distance against guys with a winning record, then we know he's able to compete against the higher-level guys.

 

The second factor we look at is if we know the fighter. At initial glance, a bout may seem a bit one-sided. But if the lesser of the two fighters is someone we've watched fight a few times, and we know what style of fighter they are or how easily their losses could have been wins, then we take that into consideration.

If the greater of the two fighters is someone we know, we may turn down their bout because we feel they have a major advantage over their opponent. On the flip side, maybe we know that the greater of the two fighters is a submission specialist, so the chances of them seriously injuring their opponent is minimal.

Another factor is "why are these guys fighting each other?" Is there a beef between the two fighters? Did the greater of the two fighters just suffer a setback and is looking to get back on track? Is one of the fighters just looking for a quick payday? Things like this can be a huge factor in reviewing a bout.

Someone may be out to just get revenge and hurt their opponent rather than looking to advance their career. Fights like this can leave the first-time ticket holder with a bad taste in their mouth. Isn't our main goal to advance the sport and gain mainstream acceptance?

Sometimes a fight can look bad on paper, so we will tentatively deny a fight until the promoter/matchmaker can provide us with some concrete evidence that proves it's a fair fight. This could include a fighter's amateur boxing experience, amateur martial arts experience, high school wrestling accomplishments, etc. Saying, "Oh, but Jimmy has 13 bouts as an amateur that were never recorded" doesn't qualify as concrete evidence.

If that's the case then I'm undefeated as a professional, but you'll never find any of my fights online and all the promoters are now dead. And remember promoters/matchmakers, verifying your claims is only a phone call away. If I'm told that a fighter trains at a certain gym, I'll give that gym owner or trainer a call.

I would say nine times out of 10 that owner/trainer has never heard of the guy or remembers them coming in once about six months ago. I do my research to ensure that I'm as informed as possible.

It's unfortunate, but fights will get denied. You add up all the factors and they just don't equal out. A fighter may believe that this is the one fight they are going to win, or they really need the money, or that they promise they won't hurt the other guy, but at the end of the day, we have to feel good about the two guys, or gals, who will be entering the cage/ring. Hate us all you want, but sometimes the greater good far outweighs the here and now.