Not since Seth Petruzelli said he was paid to stand with Kimbo Slice has someone in mixed martial arts put their foot in their mouth quite like Sean Salmon did yesterday.
In a MMA Junkie blog post he penned, Salmon inadvertently admitted to throwing a fight so he could return to his job as a training partner for the guys at the Wolfslair gym.
Now it’s June 3, and I am flying back to Columbus, Ohio, from Manchester, England, where I was training with Wolfslair helping some of the team’s fighters prepare for their upcoming bouts. The plan was to fly in on June 3, fight in Cleveland on the 6th and then fly back to England on the 7th.
I left England and was given a very serious warning: “If you get hurt in that fight, don’t bother coming back.” My opponent for the fight was 6-6, so obviously getting back to England to learn and train with some of the best was my priority.
I handled him very easily for the entire first round. He was able to land one very good elbow to my temple. I am embarrassed to admit that my first thought was that, “If he cut me and I can’t go back to England, this is not worth it.” How in the world could I be in a fight and think that if I got cut, it is not worth the win?
In the second round, I took him down again. He went for an armbar, I defended it (only to prove to myself that he couldn’t get it), and then I put my arm back in to give him the win so that I could return to England, healthy. Just so you all know, that is the most embarrassing thing that I have ever admitted out loud.
It’s also the dumbest thing Salmon has ever admitted out loud, because this story has picked up steam and people are fired up. If you’re not cursing Salmon yourself, take a gander at the story’s comments section, it’s not pretty.
Jake Rossen with ESPN/Sherdog.com gave Salmon a chance to explain himself. He says the whole thing is being misinterpreted and blames the poor choice of words on his aversion to proofreading.
Sherdog: The passage causing controversy is when you say he went for an armbar, you defended it, then you put your arm back out there knowing he’d secure it again. You said you did that to “give him the win.” Is that a statement you stand by?
Salmon: Not exactly. I’m certainly not backtracking, but I should’ve worded it like—I didn’t fight that armbar with everything I had. That’s how I should’ve worded it. He got my arm, put me in a tricky position, and I felt like I could’ve defended it, but in my head I was already quitting, already giving up. I had more fight in me. That’s the only way to explain it. I had more fight in me. I wasn’t done. Bottom line, I took the coward’s way out.
Sherdog: But there is something incriminating about saying, “I gave him my arm.” That’s different than submitting because you’re tired or mentally broken. You gave him an avenue to win.
Salmon: I should’ve proofed that. I don’t like proofreading because I don’t want to second-guess myself. But I didn’t think that would be a focus. I was just whipping through that part of the story.
Sherdog: When you escaped the armbar in the second round, did you stick your arm back in knowing he would grab it?
Salmon: No. I wrote it the wrong way. He got the arm. I knew it was a position I could defend. If I fought and struggled the way you’re supposed to, I could’ve gotten out. But I didn’t have that fight in me. On that night, at the time, I did not have the motivation to fight that any more. I wanted to be anywhere else in the world but that cage, that night.
So did he throw the fight or did he merely give up? The opinions range. On one end of the spectrum, Fight Opinion says it’s a criminal offense. On the other, Cage Potato says the only thing Salmon is guilty of is quitting. Personally, I don’t think this one is so black and white. On one hand, Salmon wasn’t compensated in some fashion by the promoter or a third party to lose (as far as we know at least) which is what would typically constitute “throwing a fight.” He did however allow his opponent to win (as initially stated) so he wouldn’t further risk losing his gig in England (which he ironically lost anyways). So in a round about way, yes, he did have something to gain (or at least not lose) by giving his opponent the win. Betting is also something to consider, but there’s no evidence at this point to suggest that was a factor.
Regardless of how it should be characterized, the athletic commissions have caught wind of the story and they’re not happy about it either.
After the fighter admitted in an MMAJunkie.com essay that he purposely fell into an armbar submission during a June 3 bout against Allan Weickert, Ohio State Athletic Commission executive director Bernie Profato told ESPN.com on Thursday that Salmon was putting himself in danger of exile.
“I’m going to confront him with it,” Profato said. “I’m not going to stand for this kind of s—. If he doesn’t print a retraction, then he’s out. I’m not going to compromise the integrity of the sport and have someone throw a fight. … If I had proof, he’d be banned for life in Ohio.”
Salmon will now have to appear in front of the OSAC at a hearing on Oct. 14 to explain himself, plus his Oct. 17 fight in Ohio has been canceled. It gets worse, Fight Opinion informs us the NJACB is also canceling the fight Salmon had scheduled in New Jersey.
However this turns out, Sean Salmon has done irreparable damage to his career, if not in the eyes of the government, definitely in the eyes of the fans.
Image via Sherdog