Controversy continues to follow Shine Fights around like a lost puppy dog. Shine Fights’ upcoming single night eight-man lightweight grand prix was initially scheduled to take place at this Friday, Sept. 10, at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia, but Shine officials were forced to move the event to a different state after Virginia’s athletic commission denied the organization a promoter’s license.
It was originally believed Virginia took exception to Shine Fights allowing fans to vote on the first round tournament pairings, however a Shine press release sent out yesterday quotes Shine CEO Devin Price citing issues stemming from their failed “Worlds Collide: Mayorga vs. Thomas” event as the reason Virginia “reneged on their verbal agreement.”
“I was given verbal approval for our Sept 10 event by the Virginia state commission 32 days prior to the fight date.” said Price. “The commission did not express any problems with our event until certain members of the MMA community accused Shine of having reneged on our responsibilities following the cancelation of our May 15, 2010 “Worlds Collide: Ricardo Mayorga-Din Thomas” fight card in Fayetteville, NC. The Virginia commission was understandably concerned, but instead of allowing us to prove the concerns were unfounded, they refused to provide a license. And we could have proved this since on Friday [Sept 3] the North Carolina commission ruled that Shine HAD met all its obligations from the May 15, 2010 event.
If you ask Virginia though, you’ll hear a much different story. Neither the fan matchmaking nor problems Shine has had in the past had anything to do with their decision to refuse Shine a promoter’s license. They claim Shine failed to provide all the required documentation, including proof of bond for fighter purses, in the time period allotted.
The Virginia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Program’s decision to deny Shine Fights a promoter’s license last Friday was based on the promotion’s inability to provide mandatory documents, including evidence of a surety bond to cover fighters’ purses, said Mary Broz-Vaughan, director of communications for the Dept. of Professional and Occupational Regulation.
In Virginia, Broz-Vaughan said the regulatory body worked diligently with the Florida-based promotion up until last Thursday to approve its licensure, even allotting the promotion an extension past the 30-day deadline organizations have to hand in all necessary documentation.
Shine was either late or unable to provide complete medical records and test results, as well as fighters’ professional records, said Broz-Vaughan.
“We were begging for information from them on Tuesday,” said Broz-Vaughan. “We just can’t put on an event without the required documents.”
Broz-Vaughan said the promotion also failed to provide evidence that it had procured a surety bond, a requirement of the state to ensure the fighters’ purses, the payment of officials and the minimum gate fee tax is covered prior to the event.
Sound familiar? That’s because North Carolina said they pulled the plug on Shine Fights at the last minute in May because Shine failed to post the remainder of a required bond to cover fighter purses, among other issues.
The reasons for getting booted out of Virginia are only half the story though. Three weeks ago, Shine looked into obtaining a promoter’s license from the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission, but the board refused to approve the tournament format. When Virginia denied them, Shine decided to move forward in Oklahoma without the OSAC’s blessing and secured the First Council Casino in Newkirk as the new venue for their lightweight grand prix, effectively putting the event out of the OSAC’s jurisdiction. Understandably, OSAC director Joe Miller has serious concerns with no regulatory body overseeing the event.
“I have some major concerns with it,” Miller told MMAFighting.com. “There are probably 15 or 20 events conducted a year in Oklahoma without a commission present. My number one concern is the health and safety of the fighters. There have been events where the fighters were not paid and there was no one there to ensure that they get paid. But my major concern is the health of the fighters. I know of situations where a fighter was knocked out, knocked unconcious, and allowed to fight five days later. The problem I have with that is if a fighter is knocked out, it’s mandated under our rules and the Association of Boxing Commissions rules that they take a certain amount of time off. Thirty or 45 or 60 days is normal because if a fighter is knocked out there’s a possibility that he has a subdural hematoma — bleeding on the brain — and there’s the possibility that if he gets hit again there could be serious medical problems.”
“…But the thing I would tell him is that [the participating fighters] won’t be licensed in the state of Oklahoma for 60 days after this fight. If that doesn’t impact you, then you need to ask, is this a reputable organization? Are you going to receive your money? Is there going to be a doctor at ringside? Will an ambulance be on site? Do you have a contract with them that everybody has signed that lays out exactly what will happen?”
Miller is so concerned in fact, he informed MMA Junkie that the commission may seek an injunction to have the event shut down, but if that doesn’t work, at the very least, any fighter than competes on this Friday’s Shine Fights card won’t be able to get licensed in the state of Oklahoma for 60 days. However, that won’t necessarily stop a fighter from competing in a different state or Japan within the 60-day time period, which is exactly what Marcus Aurelio plans to do if Shine lets him. To make a long story short, in addition to Shine’s lightweight grand prix, Aurelio’s management booked him in a fight against Shinya Aoki at DREAM.16 on Sept. 25 without obtaining contractually required permission from Shine Fights first. They’re apparently still trying to work it out, but it’s possible Aurelio could fight on Sept. 10 and Sept. 25 without any third parties to ensure he is medically fit to compete.
To recap, following the cancellation of “World’s Collide: Mayorga vs. Thomas” due to Shine Fights’ alleged failure to provide a ringside physician and the required bond to cover fighter purses, the fighters scheduled for Friday’s “Shine Fights: Lightweight Grand Prix” event are being asked to compete without a state commission present to ensure their safety and compensation.
Shine Fights has yet to comment on holding the event without any commission oversight.
Update: More clarification on the Virginia aspect of the story from VPBWP director of communications Mary Broz-Vaughn:
“I’ve heard a lot of red herrings thrown out as to why this happened – because of rumors of what happened in North Carolina or fans voting on fight matchups,” she said. “That’s all immaterial to us. We have very clear requirements of what’s necessary for a promoter to obtain a license.”
“Even as late as [this past] Tuesday, we were begging for the missing information, including things like fight records,” she said. “We did get those on Thursday. But the largest piece that was missing that’s required in Virginia is evidence of a surety bond. That was never provided.
“So late last week, there wasn’t going to be enough time to get this event off safely. It was not a denial of a license, but rather, their application never became complete.”
“I take it he’s saying I’m interested in having an event on Sept. 10,” she said. “We in Virginia would love to have you. Now, here are the things you need to do.”
Update 2: According to Shine Fights COO, Jason Chambers, all the fighters are “exceedingly comfortable” with competing in the unsanctioned event, and are aware of possible 60-day license restrictions from the commission. He says it’s a “non-issue.”
Despite the “major concerns” voiced by the commission’s director, Chambers insisted that every fighter is “exceedingly comfortable” with participating in the event on Otoe-Missouria Tribe land, and that all of them had been made aware of the potential consequences from the commission.
“We’ve communicated to them what’s been said, but that’s coming from second-hand information from the internet,” Chambers said. “Are we going to go tell them, the forums are saying you guys are going to have this or going to have that? Our matchmaker is very open with them and communicating with them. That’s a non-issue, the suspensions and stuff. They’re well aware of what the possibilities could be, absolutely.”
Shine Fights CEO Devin Price told Josh Gross earlier today they would hire their own doctors and run the event per NSAC guidelines. The OSAC will not be seeking a injunction as the event is being held out of their jurisdiction.
Update 3: Shine Fights denies Virginia’s claim that they never offered proof of a payroll bond.
According to Price, he e-mailed a copy of the requisite bond to VPBWP head David Holland on Sept. 1 and was told via e-mail response that it met the requirements.
Sherdog.com received an electronic scan of an $80,000 cashier’s check dated Sept. 1 addressed to the “Treasurer of Virginia.” Price said the check itself never made it to the commission’s offices, as the event was cancelled the next day.
On Wednesday, the regulatory body told Sherdog.com that this was the first time it had seen the electronic image.
“Virginia did not receive an e-mail with the image of the cashier’s check. The first time David Holland saw the image was when I showed it to him (on Wednesday). Even if someone had sent a PDF of a bond, it would not satisfy the requirements,” said Mary Broz-Vaughan, director of communications for the Dept. of Professional and Occupational Regulation, which oversees the combat sports program.
There’s quite more to this you can read in the Sherdog report, but it has basically become a “he said, she said” situation, which Virginia says they’re not interested in engaging any further in. According to them, it’s as simple as not having the necessary documents in their hands by the deadline.
Update IV: Shine Fights COO Jason Chambers details the steps they’ll be taking to ensure fighter safety at tonight’s unsanctioned event.
“We’re following the guidelines set forth by any athletic commission,” Chambers told MMAWeekly.com this week. “We’re doing the 1lb allowance for weigh-ins, 2 paramedics as opposed to just 1 paramedic, so two ambulances just in case one takes someone somewhere, we have another on stand-by.”
“We’re actually going to have a doctor come in to check and examine the fighters between each of the rounds to make sure they’ll be able to continue from quarters to semis, semis to final round so the fighter’s safety is paramount,” Chambers commented.
“It doesn’t behoove us to let a fighter get injured,” said Chambers. “There are no elbows on the ground in the first two rounds. We want to keep it a sport, we want make sure the fighter’s safety is paramount.”
“The first round is five minutes, the second round is five minutes, obviously typical one minute break. After two rounds if there’s a clear cut person that just ‘hey he beat the holy tar out of this guy for two rounds’ we’ll go to a judges’ decision. If the judges feel it’s one round to one round, we’ll do a three minute third round,” Chambers confirmed.
“The finals will just be three-five minute rounds.”