UFC's Greatest Fear Isn't the Government: It's Shine Fights
At the MMA Symposium in Boston I attended during UFC 118, I asked VP of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner what he felt some of the threats to the UFC business were.
He mentioned that unsanctioned fights posed a major issue as any injuries or incidents that occurred at said "events" would paint a bad picture for the UFC as those uneducated in MMA associate the UFC with anything related to MMA.
Despite the bizarre circumstances surrounding Shine Fights' May event that continue to unfold and the even more bizarre circumstances that resulted in Friday's event being moved from Virginia to a Native American reservation in Oklahoma, I was willing to give the organization a chance to prove the critics wrong.
Too bad they failed and almost got people seriously injured in the process.
While congratulations go out to Drew Fickett for surviving the night and winning the tournament, Shine should be admonished for letting the fighters compete in an unsafe ring, specifically loose ring ropes that weren't secured together.
Didn't see the event? Let's go into details:
Shannon Gugerty vs. Dennis Bermudez: Both men were on the ropes and fell through them, dropping to the floor outside. Gugerty hit his back on the ring apron and the referee had to save him from falling on his head.
Kyle Baker vs. James Warfield: In the very next fight, there were several instances of fighters partially going through the ropes, the worst offense being when Warfield went for a flying knee and flew over the ropes onto a table at ringside.
Seriously, you have to see this fight to appreciate how unsafe these ropes were.
Those are two standout examples and from what I understand, they attempted to tighten the ropes between fights but it surely didn't help. Anytime action went to the ropes, there was no support there and fighters' body parts went through them, causing fights to be stopped so both guys could recover.
Yes, the ring was causing stoppages. PRIDE this was not.
Regardless of what I think about Shine's organization, their first responsibility is to keep the fighters safe. When the actual field of competition is a hazard like it was Friday night, it's a major risk to everyone involved.
Like many others, I prefer action in a cage but I understand that for local promotions, a ring might be more economically feasible. However, you simply don't hear about guys falling through ropes at those shows to the extent they were Friday in Oklahoma.
For what it's worth, both Gugerty and Warfield lost their fights. While the falls may have not been the reason, falling onto a table from a decent height couldn't have helped.
So why does the UFC fear Shine Fights?
Because of the safety concerns. Promotions like this which attempt to play with the big boys but do so on a shoestring budget when it comes to safety hurt the overall product and provide more negatives than positives.
Imagine if Gugerty fell on his head and was severely injured. Would the mainstream have said, "Oh, that's a different organization. That wouldn't have happened in UFC."? No. The critics would have used that to indemnify a sport they already hate. It's politics: any bit of negative press helps their cause.
I guess it's no mystery why the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission had "major concerns" about the event but couldn't do anything about it because of the location.
Between the evasive maneuvers this past week and the continued fallout from the canceled North Carolina event, Shine Fights has had quite the 2010.
Here's hoping if they ever attempt another show, they'll think of their fighters' health first. If they don't, it's better for the industry if they simply disappear.
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