by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
World Fighting Alliance (WFA) CEO Jeremy Lappen went to UFC 61: Bitter Rivals this past Saturday night to show his support for Ken Shamrock in his rematch with Tito Ortiz. Just minutes after arriving, Lappen was escorted out of the Mandalay Bay Events Center by security and a Zuffa representative.
Lappen spoke with MMAWeekly about what transpired on Saturday night, the WFA’s July 22nd event, and the fierce competition between mixed martial arts promotions.
MMAWeekly: Mr. Lappen, you had an interesting weekend…
Jeremy Lappen: A short one.
MMAWeekly: Take me through what exactly happened at UFC 61 in Vegas Saturday night.
Lappen: I went to the fights. I was given a ticket by Ken Shamrock. I was his manager, and I am friends with him. He wanted me to come and support him at the fight, so he gave me one of his seats. I went down and was sitting in the front row and talking to some people. Five or ten minutes into it, security came over, about three security guards. I believe a Zuffa official was with them at that point. I’m not sure. They pointed at me and they were like, “You, you’re out of here.” I was like, “What?” They were like, “Come on. You are out of here.” I said, “What are you talking about?” They were like, “You’ve got to leave. You’re out.” I was like, “I have a ticket.” I showed them my ticket, and they said, “It doesn’t matter. You’ve got to go,” and I said, “For what?” They said, “You’re out of here.” They wouldn’t give me a reason. I was like, “But I have a ticket. I’m supposed to be sitting here.” They walk me out through the back. I kept asking, “Why am I out of here? I have a ticket. What are you throwing me out for?” They said, “You’re out of here.” Then the security guard said, “You don’t have a credential. You need a credential to sit in those seats.” I said, “A credential? Nobody had a credential in those seats.” I knew because I was sitting next to people that I knew. They were like, “You’re gone.” I said, “For what? I have a ticket.” [They said], “You’re gone. You need a credential.” They walked me out through the back, all the way through the tunnels to the outside, and made me get into a cab and leave the casino.
MMAWeekly: The only explanation they gave you was that you didn’t have a credential?
Lappen: Yeah. That’s the explanation they told me. The security told me because I didn’t have a credential I had to leave.
MMAWeekly: Well, why do you think they removed you?
Lappen: I think they removed me because I think they’re freaked out and seeing us [WFA] as major, major competition for them. I guess in their opinion, their competitors shouldn’t come see their event [or] aren’t allowed to sit in the front row. I don’t know. It’s so silly, but I think they’re freaked out. I think they’re freaked out by the WFA, so they threw me out of their event. If you look at what happened at the event, how they had the Wanderlei [Silva] against Chuck [Liddell] announcement, to me that’s UFC and Pride being scared of the WFA. I guarantee that would have never happened if the WFA wasn’t around.
MMAWeekly: So you don’t know what UFC representative actually came over there with security?
Lappen: No. There was a UFC representative. I don’t know who he was.
MMAWeekly: Okay, let’s shift gears and talk about your event coming up on July 22nd.
Lappen: Sure. Absolutely. We have a huge event coming up July 22nd from The Forum, the “King of the Streets” card with Bas Rutten against Kimo [Leopoldo], Quinton Jackson against Matt Lindland, and all the other line-up, which I’m sure you know about. It’s going to be a great event. We have a thirty-minute countdown show airing on Showtime right now. I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to see it, but it’s a terrific show.
MMAWeekly: What’s the deal with Showtime? Is there something bigger than the countdown show in the works?
Lappen: I’m not allowed to comment on the Showtime stuff at this time. They are airing our countdown show right now, and I’m excited about the future of the sport. I’m excited about the future of the WFA. You see the way these other promotions operate. They want so badly not to have any competition, so they can bring in lower-level fighters, not have the best fighters in the world fighting all the time. People have no other opportunities, and the fighters have no opportunities. As badly as they treat me, they don’t treat their fighters particularly any better either, at least from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard from people. They want to keep out the competition. So, I think fans, if they want to see competition, which they should because it’s only good for the sport, it’s good for everybody actually, they need to come out and buy a ticket, buy our pay-per-view, and check out the show. It’s going to be great.
MMAWeekly: Obviously, you feel the UFC sees the WFA as competition. Looking at your fight card, you have Matt Lindland, the former number one contender in the UFC middleweight division going up against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who beat the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell. You’ve got Ricco Rodriguez, former UFC Heavyweight Champion, so on and so on, Bas Rutten vs. Kimo…
Lappen: …Yeah. We have Bas, a former UFC Champion. We’ve got Ryoto Machida, the only man who has knocked out Rich Franklin. He’s the only guy who’s beat him…
MMAWeekly: …You’ve also got Lodune Sincaid, who was in the first season of The Ultimate Fighter…
Lappen: …That’s why I think they’re so freaked out. I mean, they’re scared to fight our fighters. They’re scared of us. You know?
MMAWeekly: When the card was being put together, was that something you had planned going into it, or did you just seek out the best fighters available and those were the ones to get?
Lappen: I wanted the best fighters in the world, and I wanted the most exciting fighters. I wanted people that the fans wanted to see, guys that are going to put on entertaining fights, and I wanted the best. These were the guys that I went after. Guys like “Rampage,” who beat Chuck. I know Chuck wanted the fight [against Rampage in the UFC]. I think Chuck is a warrior and would fight anybody, but for some reason, the UFC didn’t want to bring Quinton in to fight him. They were scared. Quinton was available. They never made an offer for him. Ryoto Machida has been out there, the only guy to beat Rich Franklin. Why didn’t they go after him and bring him in?
MMAWeekly: You signed others that they let go like Jason “Mayhem” Miller. They let Ivan Salaverry go, and Lindland go…
Lappen: …Yeah. I mean, Lindland was the number one contender for a long time, arguably the best, or in the top two or three 185-pounders in the world. Now he’s moving up to 205, and already having done that against Mike Van Arsdale and being victorious. I mean, he’s going to be a threat in both weight divisions, I think.
MMAWeekly: You mentioned that you’re Ken Shamrock’s manager.
Lappen: I was Ken Shamrock’s manager. Once I started promoting for the WFA, I stopped doing Ken’s fight deals because of the conflict.
MMAWeekly: Did you get the opportunity to see the fight?
Lappen: I went to a friend’s house and watched it. You know, watched it on television.
MMAWeekly: What did you think about the stoppage?
Lappen: I thought it was definitely way too early.
MMAWeekly: Let me ask you this. July 22nd at The Forum, is Dana White welcome to come sit front row at your event?
Lappen: Absolutely. Everybody is welcome to come to our event. I wouldn’t want to keep the entertainment from anybody.