Barnett was scheduled to face Smealinho Rama for the vacant MFC heavyweight championship, but the fight has been scrapped with little time left to find a suitable replacement.
An examination of Barnett’s eyes revealed three holes in a retina, according to MFC officials. A review by two of Barnett’s doctors, as well as Dr. Shelby Karpman, Edmonton Combative Sports Commission’s head physician, concluded that Barnett would be risking serious damage to his eyes, including possible blindness, should he be struck again. Upon the doctors’ verdicts, Barnett has been pulled from the fight.
“I’m disappointed for Chris Barnett, but definitely more so for Smealinho Rama, who trained so diligently for the title shot he desperately wanted,” said MFC Owner/President Mark Pavelich in a prepared statement.
Pavelich went on to say that Rama would still be paid his show purse and be put into a title fight at MFC’s next event before railing on Barnett’s manager, Mickey Dubberly of KO Dynasty, for how the situation was handled.
“It’s an absolute shame that it came down to this, and it didn’t have to go this way for Rama at all,” declared Pavelich. “Had Barnett’s manager Mickey Dubberly been more professional and more on top of things, we would have been notified at least two weeks ago that there was an issue with the medicals. Instead we find out one day before he’s scheduled to leave.
“With proper notice we could have found a suitable replacement and had the title fight, but because of irresponsible management, Rama and the MFC fans have been robbed of that opportunity.”
A bantamweight bout pitting Ryan Benoit vs. Anthony Birchak has been slotted in as the new MFC 37 main event, which airs live on AXS TV. A middleweight bout between Allen Hope and Paul Grandbois moves from the undercard to the opening fight on the televised broadcast.
Dubberly was not immediately available for comment at the time of publication.