by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
This past Thursday in Portland, Oregon at the semi-finals of this season’s World Team Tournament there was some controversy during the Los Angeles Anacondas VS Portland Wolfpack team battle.
In the two teams’ fourth fight of the evening, with the Wolfpack leading 2-1, light-heavyweights Alex Schoenauer of the Anacondas and Aaron Stark of the Wolfpack faced off and near the end of the first round it appeared as if Alex was on his way to tying the best-of-five series.
After reversing a submission attempt by Stark, Schoenauer appeared to have the fight in hand as he secured an ankle lock on Aaron. The referee had begun to move in and appeared to have touched Alex around the same time Aaron had slapped Schoenauer’s leg in apparent pain.
Thinking the fight was over, Alex released the hold, but to his surprise the fight was allowed to continue, with the bell ringing to end the round shortly thereafter. In the subsequent round, after suffering a rib injury, it was Schoenauer that was forced to tap to a Stark submission attempt, ending the fight and the Anacondas’ chances of advancing to the IFL finals.
Obviously unhappy by the non-stoppage in the first round of the fight, which ultimately led to a loss for both himself and his team, Alex spoke to MMAWeekly to discuss what he feels was not only bad refereeing in his fight, but bad judging as well in a teammate’s earlier contest.
“It started when Jay [Hieron] fought [Chris Wilson],” said Schoenauer of what he felt was calamitous officiating. “It went three rounds to a decision and he had clearly won two rounds out of the three, one was clearly for the Wolfpack [fighter], but Jay definitely won two rounds and they [the judges] gave a unanimous decision [to Wilson]. I think that was a ridiculous decision by the judges.”
Alex continued, “When I fought, when he [Aaron Stark] tapped I let go because I felt the tap on my leg and I thought it was the ref jumping in to stop the fight, and when I let go after that the bell rung and the ref was like, ‘oh I didn’t see it,’ and they kept the fight going. I thought it sounded ridiculous, the guy [referee] clearly thought that he had tapped.”
Schoenauer not only feels that the referee had thought Stark had submitted, but that others in attendance also believed so and that vindication will come when FSN broadcasts the fights later this month.
“Ken Shamrock said that [he thought Aaron tapped], and everybody saw it pretty much on the replay – and people will be able to see it when the show replays FSN – that the guy tapped,” exclaimed Alex. “That’s why I let go of that ankle lock…I had the figure-four, it cracked once and I let go because I thought it was the ref stopping it.”
“If this was like the NFL where you could challenge it on tape then it’s obvious. Not only I saw it, but everybody else saw it. You can clearly see the guy tap, I let go of the submission, and then that’s when they keep the fight going. I don’t really have to say a whole lot because it’s going to be on FSN and everybody’s going to be able to see it,” added Schoenauer.
As for Stark, Schoenauer believes that Aaron will not vindicate Alex’s claims and that if they meet again, things such as what happened in their first fight won’t be happening again.
“The guy didn’t admit to it, but that’s okay because he’s going to have to wake up every day and look at himself and know he didn’t win that fight,” stated Schoenauer. “So I’ll just beat him again next time and I’ll break it, I’ll break off his leg, I won’t let it go until it’s busted.”
Team sports have long predicated the concept of home field advantage, and Alex feels this may be the case with what he feels happened to the Anacondas in Portland and believes that the IFL should step in and adjudicate new rules so that there can be no inclination of hometown bias in the future.
“We expected it…it’s their hometown, we’re going to get booed and stuff but we didn’t expect the overall judging and refereeing of the outcome of it to be ridiculous,” lamented Schoenauer. “I guess we’re going to live with it and I think that the IFL is going to make sure that next time when it’s the semi-finals or the finals it won’t be in a hometown state because it causes too much controversy.”
Even if the IFL doesn’t make any changes, Alex feels the Anacondas and their coach Bas Rutten will make sure that nothing like this disputation happens again.
“Hopefully we’ll learn from it and like Bas said in the post-fight interviews that next time let all the coaches know we’re going just going to break stuff,” said Schoenauer. “We’re not going to let go until the ref is definite that it breaks and then we’ll let it go.”
When asked if there were any discussions between he and the IFL about participating in a superfight or the proposed singles tournament before the start of next season, Alex replied, “No I haven’t heard anything back right now. I’m taking it easy and see what happens next because I popped my ribs in the second round when I was choking him [Stark].”
“I popped my rib out, so I’m going to have to take a little time off, learn from it, come back next time and just start breaking stuff,” concluded Schoenauer.