(Video courtesy Sherdog)
I don't know what the hell it is lately with shady MMA promoters screwing fighters, but it looks like these leeches are bound and bet to add some black marks on an overall otherwise decent year for the sport before the clock ticks out for 2010.
By now we've all heard about some of of the crazy shit that went down at theNemesis Fighting show in Dominican Republic earlier this month where fighters didn't get paid and the promoter tried to high tail it out of Dodge before they realized the checks he wrote them were rubber. The latest on that story is that former bounty hunter Keith Jardine, who was one of the fighters who got stiffed has hooked up with the U.S. Secret Service to remedy the situation. We'll have one of the fighters who nearly didn't make it out of Dominican alive, Chris McNally on tomorrow's The Bum Rush Radio Show to tell another crazy story from the event.
Well, it looks like another promoter has tried to pull a fast one on another UFC veteran, only this time it isn't money that was stolen, it was a championship belt.
The victim in this case is former UFC lightweight contender Hermes Franca, who by all accounts won the three-round Xtreme Vale Todo 155-pound title fight above against recent Bellator signee Ferrid Kheder last weekend in Costa Rica. The first inkling that the fight wasn't on the up-and-up should have been that the main event title bout was only three rounds, but that's neither here nor there at this point.
Rather than try to summarize second hand info we got about what went down after the bout, we thought it would be better to post a rundown by a dude who was at the event.
Nick Roehrick, who coincidentally is the manager of NASCAR driver Jeffrey Earnhardt and was in attendance at the event sent the following open letter to Franca and various media sites in the hopes of exposing the XVT promoter's underhandedness:
My Name is Nick Roehrick, I currently manage a NASCAR driver and have been in the promotions business for well over twenty years. I was a Certified USA Amateur Boxing Referee in the past; and once upon on a time (2004), promoted a professional boxing match with George Foreman’s brother Roy. I have been an avid MMA fan since its inception in the early 90’s and I’m very familiar with how it’s scored.
Tonight (December 19th 2010) I attended a Mixed Marshal Arts event while in Cartago Costa Rica promoted by an organization called Xtreme Vale Todo. I was attending this event strictly as a fan and certainly have no “skin” on any particular fighter or outcome, I am completely unbiased.
I arrived at the gate about an hour and a half before the fights were to begin and purchased a ringside seat, sat down and became acquainted with a few other fans seating next to me and got ready to enjoy the show. The event was scheduled to run head up with the Costa Rica National Soccer Championship, which I’m sure contributed to the somewhat spruce attendance. The fights started pretty much on time and I was delighted with my unobstructed view of the octagon.
I am going to skip to the main event, a fight between Franca (Brazil) and Kheder (France). Franca easily won all three rounds of the bout, his striking was superior as was his grappling, and he displayed dominating leg kicks and in fact closed out both the first and third rounds riding on Kheder’s back.
Here’s where it really offended my sensibilities as the manager of a professional athlete, as a fan and as a paying customer. When the winner was to be announced there was a delay, after a few awkward moments the referee begin to raise Franca’s hand then the announcer who is French as is Kheder, called for Kheder’s hand to be raised, the referee refused to raise Kheder’s hand so the announcer raised it. The fans started booing at this obvious sham!
(Video courtesy YouTube/DaveFugitiveJansen)
I witnessed the corner man (an American) for Franca pleading to the announcer to check the scorecards again. The French announcer, who only moments before I personally heard speak perfect Queen’s English, now acted as though he understood nothing this poor corner man was saying; I found this utterly despicable and decided to get involved. The promoter had rushed from the arena immediately after the fans started to voice their displeasure with this travesty of sportsmanship and fair play so she was unavailable to comment.
I introduced myself to the corner man and he tells me his name is Dave Jensen. The announcer refuses to acknowledge that he has the score cards when I tell him he’s obligated to show them to Franc’s team. Being familiar with how this process works and not having the emotional involvement of the Dave the corner man I suggest we talk directly to the judges. The two of us approach the three judges and we ask them who they awarded the fight to, all three say Franca. We then ask the referee and he tells us he too had Franca as the winner, he tells us he refused to raise Kheder’s hand because Franca won and in fairness he wouldn’t raise Kheder’s hand (I commend him for that). I even hear Kheder saying to the French announcer (in English no less) to call the fight a “no contest”!
Even if you watch the fight and confabulate that somehow Kheder won, that’s not the issue here; bad calls happen and we move on. The fact is that all three judges and the referee declared Franca the winner and told me so; I’m an independent party with only integrity and fair play as a motive. The actual judging was in fact discarded and the promoter independently decided the victor which in the United States would warrant an investigation and possible sanctions by the governing body towards the promoter. A side note, the promoter is an American and this might explain why she’s not promoting MMA events in the United States.
After talking to all three judges and the referee we went before the cameras to plead Franca’s case, but to no avail. Yet another Frenchmen warned corner man Dave Jensen that if he didn’t stop protesting the decision they would hold Franca’s purse. Follow the money is an adage often spoken, if the Frenchmen were able to withhold the purse would the also be able to decide the outcome? Yes, and alas that’s exactly what they did.
Corner men Dave Jensen fought the good fight on behalf of his fighter, but like Franca, it was a fight he can’t win. My heart goes out to both these young men and their entire team, it is so transparent that the fix was in and their cause was hopeless in this regard. You see Kheder had three ways to win, KO, submission or decision; while Franca only had two, KO or submission, a decision was a forgone conclusion in favor of Kheder.
I said all that to say this! If you’re an MMA fan don’t attend Xtreme Vale Todo, if you’re an MMA fighter don’t fight for Xtreme Vale Todo. If you’re a sponsor don’t patronize Xtreme Vale Todo; Sherdog or any other outlet for MMA, don’t air Xtreme Vale Todo. I plead to anyone that values fair play, integrity and honor to stay away from Xtreme Vale Todo; don’t support them with your money, they are part of the problem and not part of the solution as to what’s wrong with combat sports. There’s an old saying that was true of boxing for the longest time: “The only thing square in boxing is the ring.” Don’t let that become true of MMA, stop bottom feeding organizations like Xtreme Vale Todo from exploiting and using fighters for crooked gain. They not only hurt the sport of MMA they hurt all sports because fans become disgusted and apathetic to sports in general.
To Xtreme Vale Todo, have you no shame? Crawl back under whatever rock you crawled from beneath. The sporting world doesn’t need nor want people of your ilk, people on the take for short end money. I have no doubt that you will fall of your own weight given time, I simply want to hasten the process a little, because unlike you I respect the hard work and dedication that these young men pour into their passion. I won’t stand by and watch as you discount all three of the judges and the referee on what was in fact a unanimous decision by Franca, as a professional I am compelled to call you out. You Xtreme Vale Todo are scum!
It looks like the promoter had a change of heart and decided to have the result of the bout changed to a "no contest." She also offered both fighters a five-round rematch, but somehow I doubt that Franca is in any hurry to fight for XVT again.
Here's the 411 courtesy of Kheder who posted the update on his Facebook page:
Following the controversy that followed the decision of XVT 5, Lu Dwyer who organized the show decided to turn the decision in a no contest and to propose a rematch for Hermes Franca for 5 rounds of 5 minutes. Hermes does not agree with the decision, I did not like the unfolding of the official announcement and Lu Dwyer wants to remain as fair as possible!
If anything, this situation is going to negatively impact the promoters of smaller shows, who, regardless of their track records, are going to be scrutinized by commissions and fighters deciding where they should fight. I'm part of a group in Ontario working to aid the government in sanctioning the sport in the province and our biggest fear now that MMA is legal here is that everyone with a TapouT shirt, a cage and a hall to rent will come out of the woodwork to try to put on shows. This proves why there needs to be criteria in place as to who can promote events. It's likely no coincidence that this woman doesn't hold shows in North America.