by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Mixed martial arts has endured a lot of growing pains with the sport’s expansion across the globe. In the U.S., states are still learning and figuring out how to handle the growing number of promotions and organizations looking to run sanctioned shows, and unfortunately the growing pains of one commission helped bring about the cancellation of some pro fights scheduled for this weekend.
The MMA Big Show, a promotion headed by president Jason Appleton out of Cincinnati, Ohio, and running shows at the Belterra Casino on the Ohio river, bordering Indiana, faced the struggles of a new commission for his latest show, scheduled for Jan. 9.
The show was set to feature former Pride and K-1 fighter Gary Goodridge in the headliner along with former “Ultimate Fighter” cast member Luke Zachrich in a title fight for the show’s co-main events.
“The commission is brand new, they were just activated Dec. 1, and they’ve only got three commission reps for the entire state of Indiana, and no funding from the state,” Appleton told MMAWeekly.com on Wednesday.
“Gary Goodridge took a secret fight that his manager didn’t even know about over in Japan, a week ago. Everybody knows about that. He goes and he lays down for this fight, gets TKO’d in the first round. Now even though there’s no jurisdiction for any commissioning body over what happens in Japan, since (the Indiana commission) knew about it, they told me they were still cancelling the fight.”
Regardless of Goodridge’s removal from the show, Appleton says the real struggle came down to the commission still trying to figure out how to run MMA shows in Indiana, and it didn’t make sense to move forward with the current slate of problems.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back was in Ohio and Kentucky the commission handles all the national ID and fighter’s paperwork, the night of the weigh-ins for new registrations. It’s just kind of how it’s always been done,” Appleton commented. “The Indiana commission wasn’t going to allow that. So they’re dumping it on me to try and get all these things done around Christmas and New Year’s. Half the people were out of town; Gary Goodridge was in Japan. It was an impossibility.”
Appleton says that the commission was so understaffed that they weren’t even planning on having anyone attend the weigh-ins, which is a common function of state athletic commissions for any sanctioned MMA event.
“I don’t necessarily blame the commission for what happened, it was just a very poorly managed situation,” he said. “It could have been handled differently if they were actually ready to regulate the sport, and had the funding and the manpower to do it properly.”
Luke Zachrich, who was set to fight for the promotion’s light heavyweight belt, told MMAWeekly.com that the whole situation was unfortunate, and he hopes to compete again soon.
“I am really disappointed not to be fighting. I really wanted to get in there after my layoff, but I know its just part of the business. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we’d like them to, but I’m staying motivated and continuing to focus on getting another shot to show everyone what I can do,” Zachrich told MMAWeekly.com.
“I really want to thank everyone who was behind me in support for this fight, my team, my coaches, my parents, and my sponsors like Forty Thieves, Paul and Rex Reavlin at Revgear, Full Tilt Poker, Fighter Warehouse, Andy Katzenmoyer, Arthur Ruff, Rob Pilger, Intimidation Clothing, Joe Heskett, and ProFightFans.com”
MMA Big Show will go ahead with three additional amateur bouts on the Jan. 9 card replacing the pro fights. They are planning for another show in February and plan on working very closely with the commission for that show.
The Feb. 20 card will include former UFC fighter Jake O’Brien vs. Dave Hess, as well as former MMA Big Show middleweight champion Mojo Horne, and Roger Bowling, a welterweight prospect that will make his debut for Strikeforce later this year.