NAAFS Admits Shock Over Revelation of Brandon Saling’s Past

March 8, 2012
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Brandon Sailing
If most of the MMA world didn’t know who Brandon Saling was heading into Saturday night’s Strikeforce event, they surely learned about him afterwards.

Unfortunately, it was for all the wrong reasons.

Saling put up a valiant effort, albeit a losing one, against fellow Ohioan Roger Bowling and eventually succumbed to strikes in the second round.

His fame, or infamy as the case may be, came after the fight was over when it was revealed that Saling had a criminal record including being a registered sex offender, as well as having Nazi symbols tattooed on his body.

Shortly after the fight, both the Ohio and New Jersey athletic commissions revoked Saling’s fight license due to falsifying his background and not disclosing his criminal past to either state.

Prior to his fight in Strikeforce where the world learned about Saling’s past and misdeeds, he competed three times for the popular Ohio based MMA organization, the NAAFS.

The NAAFS, owned and operated out of the Cleveland area, employed Saling for two fights in 2012 and one in 2011, which led to him actually being signed by Strikeforce when they needed a late notice opponent for Bowling on the March 3 card.

Now with the new revelations about Saling’s past out in the open, NAAFS CEO Greg Kalikas admits he was just as shocked as everybody else to hear about now only his criminal background, but his association with Nazi symbolism.

“I was really as surprised as everyone else that knew Brandon to be quite honest. I can’t say I had a lot of direct one on one contact with him, he’s usually dealt with our matchmaker, but the times that I’ve seen Brandon and watched him interact with other fighters and fans, we would have never have seen this coming. We were very surprised,” Kalikas told

“Obviously, we weren’t aware his criminal record or his tattoos, or what they stood for. Obviously, that’s something we wouldn’t condone. Our state athletic commission is investigating the matter, and we’ll let them do their job and leave it their hands at this point. We had no idea and if we did, we certainly wouldn’t have allowed him to fight and represent the NAAFS.”

The criminal background check was something even the state athletic commissions missed, and Kalikas makes no excuses for his organization when it comes to Saling’s controversial tattoo, which represented a Nazi symbol over his shoulder.

“I’m not going to make any excuse, we missed it, obviously other people missed it, but fighters are tattooed from top to bottom and at some point it’s just hard to catch everything. To be quite honest even if I would have looked for that tattoo and seen it, I wouldn’t have known what it meant. I consider myself somewhat educated, but I would have never known that’s what it meant,” Kalikas stated.

“I learn from this mistake and it’s something we’ll be looking for moving forward.”

The worst part for Kalikas and his team at the NAAFS is the fact that Saling was a model citizen when competing for their organization. He fought hard and picked up two big wins in their promotion in 2012, which helped him graduate to Strikeforce for the fight on March 3.

Now with the investigation ongoing by the Ohio Athletic Commission for his failure to disclose his criminal past, Kalikas can’t imagine it’s going to be easy for Saling to get a job fighting anywhere, much less the NAAFS.

“Unless the commission investigating reveals new information that we don’t have, I have to say no,” Kalikas said when asked if Saling could ever fight for his promotion again. “Which is actually pretty unfortunate to be honest, because we’re all for people and fighters getting a second and third opportunity, and for all we know Brandon is turning his life around and I’m sure he still can, but the way things currently stand, I’d have to say no, but let’s see what happens when the investigation is finalized and then we can go from there.

“The whole thing is disappointing and saddening to us, and we feel bad for the kids that were involved, and for the people that were offended, and for Brandon in a sense. For all we know he’s trying to change his life and become a good person and the last thing we want to do is interfere with that, but the times have changed in America today.”

The fact is Saling lied on his application to the commission and that’s something he’ll have to deal with should he choose to re-apply or appeal their decision. Even if he is approved, he may be untouchable to most MMA organizations because of this situation and even more so because of his controversial tattoos.

It appears Saling tried to hide his past instead of facing it head on, and it came back to bite him.

“Sometimes you can’t run from your past,” said Kalikas “And unfortunately it looks like this is going to be one of those situations.”

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  • alhmiel

    don’t all these losers flush out by themselves in life. The kid got clobbered beat up good. If he’s a criminal put him in jail if not let him walk around all tattoed up and stupid looking. Life’s toilet bowl is filled with these new nazi’s, muslim terrorists and assorted scum. Society will flush them all in the end. They will end up in the sewers of hell.

  • Anthony

    ok, what I dont understand is, are you able to obtain a license to fight with a criminal history? I understand ,he lied to obtain his license ,and thats the issue here–but what if he hadent? Would Sailing ,or anyone else with a checkered past be granted a license to fight? anyone knowledgable on how this works?–also ,if they are cognisent of what body ink a fighter has prior to obtaining a license or even while under license, what is deemed ok, and what is considered taboo? Is a crip tatoo something the commision lets slid by ,and an 88 is not? How bout gang tats like Hells Angels or Brown Pride? are those ok? Anyone know where the line is drawn if you are trying to obtain or maintain a license? Im not trying to get attacked here by everyone. I genuenly am curious about this so Im not looking to argue or for a fight with this post, im interested in the rules on these type of things–thanx for any insight

  • Being a criminal doesn’t stop you from getting a fight license. Lots of fighters have some sort of criminal history. The problem with Saling is he didn’t disclose it to either Ohio or New Jersey.

    Tons of guys have been licensed to fight with criminal backgrounds, you just have to tell the commission ahead of time.

    As far as the ink goes, that’s more on the promotion than a commission to decide what they will tolerate or not.

    • Anthony

      hey thanks Damon–makes sense

  • pooby

    A criminal backround is one thing, tats are another. I don’t think anyone should be banned from fighting because some might be offended by a tattoo. If a dude wants to tattoo “Baby Raper” on his face, who cares? If he actually rapes babies, then I care.

    • Pretty much agree with Pooby, but what bothers me is that you just KNOW in the coming days some geeked out reporter is gonna go up to Dana White and ask him what he thinks, and Dana will rage and swear up and down that he would never allow offending tattoos in the UFC. Probably while Velasquez is standing right behind him.

      • Anthony

        Im thinkin you hit the nail on the head with that one liemianbresenio

      • collideoverme

        I don’t think Dana thought Cain Velasquez’s tattoo through. It is a straight up gang tattoo. Mexican pride would have been one thing, Brown Pride, something totally different.

  • alhmiel

    I wonder if the nazi won in devasting fashion by KO what would have happened?

  • Euart

    So when is the list of non-acceptable tattoos coming out?

    Brown Pride is obviously already acceptable, so I must assume Black Pride, White Pride, Asian Pride or pride for any ethnic or racial group is acceptable as well.

    When is the UFC going to let us know?

  • adam1848

    The guy is a loser but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be allowed to fight. My boy Jeff Monson has some pretty controversial ink and I’d be flipping out if people were saying he shouldn’t be in the UFC because of what he wears on his calf or upper back. Maybe he shouldn’t be in the UFC because he is one dimensional and too bulky, but thats another argument. And as far as his criminal past, I’d promote a guy who made some mistakes and is cleaning up his life, but not a registered sex offender. That’s a deal breaker, in my book.

    • adam1848

      To clarify, I don’t think he should be technically banned from fighting, but I wouldn’t sign him.