by Jeff Cain
When it comes to Mixed Martial Arts, Jeff Osborne has done it all. He’s been a fighter, broadcaster, promoter, and worked for the UFC at one time. If it’s involved in the sport, most likely Jeff Osborne has done it. He continues to run his Hook N Shoot promotion out of Evansville, Indiana, and Osborne recently spoke with MMAWeekly SoundOff Radio about the hot topic of worked fights in MMA.
With the allegations made by ring announcer Jeff Weller that the Dan “The Beast” Severn and Shannon “The Cannon” Ritch rematch in X-1’s debut event was a work, the legitimacy of MMA as a sport has been called into question. Whether or not Severn’s place in the UFC Hall of Fame should be in jeopardy if he was involved in a worked fight has been debated. When asked if Severn’s Hall of Fame status should be taken away, Osborne said, “As far as doing works in MMA, I guess you’d have to take Ken Shamrock out because, you know, I know for a fact that he’s participated in works in Pancrase. He’s told me. My own former instructor, Scott Sullivan, had to do a work with Matt Hume in Pancrase, so all the BS about there were never works in Pancrase is exactly that. You know, it’s a bunch of crap. There’s always been works.”
The MMA insider further commented, “If you guys go back in history, a hundred years or so, this is how pro wrestling got started. You know, why hit me in the face tonight? Lets stretch it out a little bit, and then go for real the last two minutes. Eventually they said hell lets just work it all. You win in this town. I win in this town, and see what happens…If you look at it, and if smells like crap then probably something is up. I have seen works that looked decent, but in pro wresting terminology, if you see something fishy it’s called a hole. I’ve seen several holes in many, many matches. For some people it’s easier to spot than others.”
Accepting that works do happen, the question of how prevalent they are in the bigger promotions begs to be answered. “With the bigger promotions I wouldn’t say as much. Well with Pride it’s ironic that Gary Goodridge gets one of his biggest paydays ever against uh, oh God what was his name? Anyway the match obviously looked very, very fishy on paper. You know? This was in Pride of course, and if you couldn’t spot the Mark Coleman Takada fight as being a work, you have some mental issues there. As far as the UFC, if they were to ever do one, they have to answer to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. You know, everybody taking sports bets.”
If Dan Severn and Shannon Ritch did work a fight, how does it effect the overall credibility of MMA? “As far as a nationwide credibility issue, you know, if it looked fake live then you’ve got a problem locally because you will lose fans. It will do something there, but as far as nationwide I don’t see it as being a big problem. Severn’s to that point where I think he realizes he’s not the greatest fighter in the world. I mean but everybody called him old when he fought Ken Shamrock the first time which arguable he was not. I don’t think it’s going to hurt credibility. I mean I think if the promoter had knowledge of it then you’ve got a problem.”
By all accounts, if the Severn vs. Ritch bout was a work, the promoters had no knowledge of it. Osborne had a worked fight in one of his events without his knowledge. He stated, “At the first sight of a work especially with my knowledge, or something, you would be suspended by the International Shooto Commission. Shooto, they’re one of the few groups who just completely, completely despises works in any company that’s been involved with works before. I mean I will say that there has been a work on my show without my knowledge, ironically with Dan Severn’s protege Geza Kalman and Brett Al-Azzawi.”
He explained, “Geza did a work to go over on Brett Al-Azzawi, and I had no knowledge of it, and I saw a couple of holes. I later asked him about it, and he said yeah it was a work. Luckily enough it wasn’t on a big show. It was on a private show.”
Being a promoter, Osborne was questioned if he’d bring a fighter back who had been involved in a known work. He responded, “I would lose a little bit of respect for a fighter especially if I’m paying you to fight, and paying someone a good price to fight, and they go out and do a performance, and the crowd sees it, and the crowd smells it. You know, if it smells fishy to the crowd then there’s a problem. I probably wouldn’t bring you back.”
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