UFC's Ben Saunders Horrified, Frightened by Experience With Virginia's Athletic Commission

via www.mmaroot.com

Once again, Saunders doesn't know me and likely does not know about the previous stink I have raised about this commission. But it hardly matters: when you're consistently incompetent and consistently working, everyone will take notice of your failures.

Saunders was at the RIE event in Harrisonburg, Virginia this past Saturday cornering fighters. Posting on the UnderGround forum, Saunders had this to say about Dave Holland and the commission behavior:

I have never heard of or seen in my entire career what went down that night. I said don't you have some kind kind of court trial to discuss and turnover a decision. He said he can do whatever he wants and to watch him, getting very defensive and angry because someone was questioning him. Appearing to make it very personal as opposed to a professional decision. What they showed us was scratched out and rewrites on the card saying they messed up. Not once did they ever apologize or act professional in any way. They seemed like they felt they could run the show however they wanted not abiding by any protocols or rules what so ever.

Not acting professional? Does that sound familiar? While unfortunate, that's hardly the problem. Now, again, I was not there. I am only detailing here what others - several different people - have told me: the commission neither wrapped hands nor checked gloves nor completed other basic administrative tasks. Here's Saunders:

Anyways back to my main issue and grudge was the saftey of the fighters. I don't want my fighter, or other fighters fighting in a state that doesn't do there job and puts lives in danger which could seriously destroy everything we as a whole MMA community have fought so hard to accomplish by promoting and regulating MMA into a legit sport that is safer than many other sports. One death in Virginia could cause NY and even states who approved of it to deny MMA and send us back 10 years. I will not sit back and watch some douche bag do that to me, us, or anyone. F--k that...!!!

Someone could have easily built a cast around there hand or added some kind of metal, ect. under the gloves, and many other illegal things that could cause an edge in a fight or possibly death!!! No commission was anywhere to regulate anything. People could have greased, done sport enhancing injections, you name it. Nothing was run in a legal manner, which i don't blame the event cause they pay the commission to regulate the event and do there f--king job!

They tried to get a cop to remove me from the event because they got angry i was questioning them and they told me to go away and shooed me away with there hands like I was a dog. This is after I was already walking away like 8-12 feet. It was ridiculous. Because I turned around to there smart ass remark and dog like shooing, this is when they got a cop. The cop didn't ask what was going on and tried to escort me out. I stayed calm and was actually laughing. I was cracking up, thinking i didn't do anything wrong or illegal, how can he really justify kicking me out? I was there as a special guest for the event and as a corner. I was in the middle of no where in Virginia at some high school that was holding the event. It was snowing outside and i obviously don't have a car. I kept thinking what is he gonna do kick me out into the snow and leave me there, Hahaha. We walked to get my things but once he found out why I was there and talking with the promoter he realized the guy was a f--king tool and let me stay.

If this is true - we do not yet know for certain it is, although I have heard similar reports from two different sources - then we have a serious, serious problem on our hands. Without the slightest degree of exaggeration, if hands are not being wrapped or checked by athletic commission officials, a fighter can be permanently brain damaged or killed. Antonio Margarito, anyone?

Those of you who live outside of the DC area may be wondering why I am harping on this issue. It may seem to not affect you on first glance. I understand this may be somewhat of a nuisance to keep up with, but make no mistake: what this and every other athletic commission does affects each and every one of us. No one wants to see the efforts of pioneers, the UFC and other stakeholders flushed down the proverbial drain because those charged with the task of protecting the lives and safety of fighters cannot do their jobs. And what you're seeing now is as others are exposed to the Virginia's commission's reported negligence, outrage is beginning to spread. That's the only inevitable outcome that could've happened, anyway.

Something must be done. More to come.

p.s. For more behind the scenes details, check out what Goldsby's teammate had to say.

UPDATE: Virginia's commission responds to the controversy:

When contacted for a comment by ULTMMA.com (www.ultmma.com) the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation released the following statement-

The decision in the January 30, 2009, Riggleman vs. Goldsby fight was not reversed. Rather, the initial announcements were incorrect due to scoring error. Department officials quickly recognized the error and asked the promoter to hold off on the other fights until the cards could be tallied properly so as to re-announce correctly.

However, the promoter continued with the additional bouts and left no time to verify the scores and announce the correct decision until the end of the show.

The split decision in Riggleman's favor announced at the end of the event reflects the accurate scores from the judges' scorecards:

Todd McGovern 28-29
John Simons, Jr. - 29-28
John Simons, III - 29-28

Again, I wasn't there, but what was told to me by sources was that the cards came with fighters' names on them. This is standard practice. The problem was that two of the cards had Riggleman in one corner and the other had him in the opposite corner. So, if this is true, this hardly exonerates them.

Second, this also doesn't explain why the fight was then announced to be a draw before the decision for Riggleman was announced.

More to come.

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