Maximum Fighting Championship president Mark Pavelich has never been one to hold his tongue when it comes to fighters or managers, and he didn’t hold back on Tuesday when he announced the cancellation of Friday’s MFC 37 main event between Chris Barnett and Smealinho Rama.
Barnett was pulled from the battle for MFC’s vacant heavyweight title when he failed to pass medicals due to three holes detected in his retina. Doctors told Barnett that he was risking serious damage to his eyes, including possible blindness, should he be struck again.
With Barnett’s removal and little time left to find a suitable replacement, the fight was cancelled. A bantamweight bout pitting Ryan Benoit vs. Anthony Birchak has been slotted in as the new MFC 37 main event.
Pavelich, however, didn’t leave it at announcing the cancellation and new main event. He instead took aim at Barnett’s manager, Mickey Dubberly of KO Dynasty, accusing him of being unprofessional.
“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.”
Dubberly took umbrage with Pavelich’s comments, telling MMAWeekly.com that it would have been impossible to give MFC notice of Barnett’s condition two weeks ago because they had just received a list of what medicals were required.
The date two weeks prior to Pavelich’s statement was April 23. Dubberly provided MMAWeekly.com with an email from MFC to “All Managers, Fighters, and Trainers” listing the required medicals. That email was dated April 24.
Among the required medicals were at CT Scan or MRI, an ECG, blood serology providing a negative result for several listed conditions, an indirect eye exam, and a physical examination report.
The various required medicals could have been done months ahead of time, but the list of what those requirements were, according to Dubberly and the email, wasn’t provided until April 24.
“Chris Barnett signed with the MFC on Feb. 20, and his fight was scheduled for May 10,” Dubberly told MMAWeekly.com Tuesday night. “The MFC did not send out what medicals were needed until April 24, which only gives the fighter 12 days to obtain all his medicals from when his flight leaves. So how could they have been notified two weeks ago when they sent us the medical info on April 24?
“We found out about the eye report on Friday (May 3), which was sent to the MFC,” Dubberly continued in response to Pavelich’s accusations. “They wanted us to get a second opinion and fly out to Canada to see if he could be cleared.
“I spoke personally to the doctor and they advised us it would not be a good idea to take the fight without being cleared by an eye surgeon.”
For Dubberly, his fighter and his fighter’s safety come before any fight obligation to a promoter, and he had no qualms in saying so. In fact, he said just that, reflecting Pavelich’s claims of unprofessionalism right back at the Canadian fight promoter.
“As a manager, the fighter’s safety comes first and we will not put our fighters in a situation to fight injured for any promotion,” Dubberly declared.
“Mark Pavelich should be more professional and send out medicals ahead of schedule instead of waiting until the last minute. Instead of pointing the finger (at someone else) in order to take the responsibility off himself, he needs to be on top of things and send out the medical requirements in a timely fashion.”