Those among our readers who are keen eyed MMA news hounds may have noticed a piece on BJPenn.com today where Duane Finley spoke to John Wood. Wood was the fighter who took a Strikeforce Challengers 10 fight on 4 days notice and due to complications with his blood work the fight was canceled leaving him without any pay after pocketing the expenses of his medicals, drive and undergoing a 25 pound weight cut.
It's become a bit of a story that won't die in my world but Wednesday evening John's management and I set up an interview to discuss some of the newer developments in the story including e-mails from Rage in the Cage's John Petrilli where Petrilli threatens to have Wood's fight license revoked if he did not issue a statement clearing Rage in the Cage and the Arizona commission in the situation.
Follow after the jump for the full transcript of John and my interview this afternoon.
The first thing is, I guess I owe you an apology for the miscommunication early on with stating that Strikeforce was who lost the blood work when, from reading everything it appears that it was somewhere involving the athletic commission.
Yeah, no apologies needed. I understand the situation and how there was just some misinformation. On my end, I never intended it to be as big as it's getting now with everybody picking it up. It's just kind of something where my opponent's friend said something and it got blown out of proportion and along the way the only person really getting screwed out of the deal has been me. But I think a few things have come out and John Petrilli from Rage in the Cage wanted to make me look like I'm the bad guy or I didn't hold up my end of the bargin which isn't true at all.
We ran a statement that was claimed to be from you. From what I'm understanding these weren't your words?
It was a little misconstrued. You spoke to someone close to me in my camp who had spoken to me and no fault of yours the way it was relayed I think it got misconstrued along the way. And that's genuinely my opinion. I made no statements but it was passed along to you as being from me when it was not. I think everybody jumped the gun a little being hasty with accusations. That source was trying to help me out and it's no fault of his or yours.
Let's go back to the beginning of the whole situation. You took the fight on four days notice and you were already traveling to the event with some amateurs you had fighting on the card who you would be cornering, correct?
We had three amateurs from our gym that would be fighting, correct.
And then a spot opened up and you took the opportunity to fight Christian and on four days notice that's a lot of rush to get your medicals in and get the info over to the athletic commission. Were you told that everything was going to be fine with what you had sent over and the fact that the bloodwork was sent over? How exactly did that go down?
Everybody in the situation knew you don't call somebody on four days notice and expect them to get everything on time. They fully were aware that my blood work might be coming in late. My eye exam and my physical came in Wednesday. I was told on the day of weigh ins by the lab that the blood work had been faxed over. Now I don't know. They said that they hadn't received it on Thursday so I'm still doing my research on that. It could have been screwed up somewhere between my doctor and the commission. So I can't say 100% that my blood work was faxed on Thursday and they screwed that up.
What I do know for sure, and that they've admitted to, was that my blood work was faxed on Friday at 3:30 in the afternoon but no one was at the commission to receive it. Leading up to the fight on Thursday weigh-ins they had not received the blood work. I told them if they didn't have my blood work by the end of the day it would come in tomorrow. "Okay, no problem." Did the weigh-ins and showed up for the fight at the designated time of 3:00 and went through all the initial paperwork and coming close to fight time no one had mentioned anything about the blood work to me at all that day. I'd seen all the people you need to see. I had my pre-fight physical a couple hours before the fight and nobody mentioned anything to me. They cleared me to fight and said I was ready to go. Any fight I've been in before, when you don't have all your stuff they say something to you.
I believe it was coming out of the pre-fight physical one of the guys who I don't believe was a part of the commission...I don't even really know who it was. I met him cutting weight and I was a little out of it. He asked it my blood work came in, I said I don't know and he told me it was no big deal and walked off. Nothing like "let's go do that" so I got a little nervous about the situation so I went back in to an official at the commission and I asked him if they received my blood work at all. His exact words were "No, I don't think we have it. Don't worry about it, just get it to me after the fact. As long as we have it later." and that's verbatum. After that I explained the only reason I'm worried about it is I brought someone out with me (Dave Hulett) as an alternate just in case. I knew it was going to be a harder weight cut so I brought someone out who could weigh-in in case I couldn't do it. Little did we know he had issues with his paperwork too. So I told the guy that I want to know if they're going to pull me so we can get him ready to go. He said to let him check and he'd go find out. He then came back to me a few minutes later and said "you don't have your paperwork, I don't know what's going to go on" so I told him to let me go call my doctor. I called the lab and my doctor and had it faxed directly to the arena after the security guard gave me the fax #. There were about two hours before the fight. Before I could even walk up to the fax machine and get the paperwork they told me they were going to cancel the fight because I didn't have the paperwork. At that point I told them "listen, I know my blood work is in this building, let me go up to the office and I'll show you guys." They just told me know and the fight was getting scrapped. Well, earlier in the night I heard them talking about pulling an amateur fight because they were behind on time. So I know, for a fact, that they pulled my fight not because my blood work wasn't there or anything. They pulled my fight, blamed it on me, screwed me and didn't give me a pat on the back or say sorry. I know that my opponent said that was happened.
The simple fact is that all this happened and I didn't get so much as a "hey man, I'm sorry. I know you cut 25 pounds and really wanted to fight, we'll try to have you back." They didn't even offer $100 for travel or some tickets. They treated me like a second class citizen at that point when I was trying to discuss this with other people I was told "No, you've got to talk to Strikeforce officials. No, you've got to talk to Rage in the Cage officials. No, you've got to talk to the Arizona commission." No one had an answer for me. Basically I begged to get a pass so I could corner my guys after I was told I wouldn't be able to fight. Basically the chick had to sneak me a pass so I could do that. But they've been bragging about how they paid him his show money, his win money, gave him gloves, gave him great tickets. Realistically it's not like I didn't show up. I showed up, I made weight, I did everything, my paperwork was there and I feel like they made it look like it was my fault.
I never officially blamed anyone until right now because of the simple fact that John Petrilli from Rage in the Cage who put together the undercard started harrassing me on e-mails after the story broke on Bloody Elbow which I didn't start it. I believe the initial story was from Christian's camp not mine and he's still threatening me with having me suspended indefinitely, fining me and a bunch of other bullshit that I know for a fact he can't do. Second, I never made a statement so it had no grounds for any of his threats. Just like he kept telling me that he was taking a lot of heat and I was wrong for doing this when I never did anything. It's just one of those deals where originally I was never going to say anything. I was kind of disheartened and felt like I had been screwed of a big opportunity that I took on four days notice and I feel like when a show calls you on four days notice you're doing them a favor. You're helping them out and I feel like now it's being framed as I screwed up and I didn't do what I needed to do. I don't know what government agency is closed at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon. That was their excuse to me. The entire commission was at this Strikeforce event. You don't even have a secretary? You just shut down the shop at 3:00 even though you know someone's blood work is coming in late and they told you that?
I know Rage in the Cage put together the undercard. But who was actually running the operations in the arena during the undercard and making the decision not to go up to the office and pull the blood work from the fax machine. Was that Rage in the Cage?
Strikeforce officials made that final call. I believe that was their call in the end. But I don't know. It was such a madhouse back there that I couldn't even tell who was in chage.
When I told them I believe it was a Strikeforce official who said they were pulling the fight without giving me a chance which I thought was a little weird.
Was Dave Hulett's paperwork in the arena?
Hulett, I guess was supposed to have his stuff faxed over from the Nevada commission but I guess there was something messed up where they didn't get his eye exam or something. But I don't know if his paperwork was there or what was going on but he was on the phone trying to do the same thing. But I can't comment much more on that because I don't know.
Was it the same person who told you that you could get the paperwork to them after the fight that then said that they were going to pull the bout because your paperwork wasn't there?
Yeah, he was talking to another official there and he was being cool about it. But it wasn't the commission.
It's not unheard of that time concerns force an undercard bout to be moved to after the main event. Was this ever brought up as an option?
No, it was just a clear cut decision. Like I said, I heard guys talking in the hall about how they were behind and they wanted to cancel an amateur fight. Unfortunately I don't know a lot of these people's names so I can't say. But I believe they told Christian too that this was the reason they were pulling the fight. Or that's what he had heard. There was no talk, I tried to beg and plead with them to convince them to move it later but there was no reason. At one point after the event John Petrilli sent me an e-mail saying that if you don't have paperwork at the weigh ins you can't fight. But what does that have to do with me now? You cleared me at the weigh-ins. You cleared me at the pre-fight physical. The only reason this fight got canceled was that my dumb ass brought it up because someone brought it up to me in passing. Had I not said anything at that point the fight would have gone on. No one would have even known my paperwork was or wasn't there. They wouldn't have cared.
Some fans have placed blame on you for not carrying your paperwork with you to the weigh-in but I think it should be clarified that the way it works is that it does have to be faxed from the lab to the commission. You're not allowed to just carry a copy of your test into the weigh in for the same security reasons that when someone applies to a job they don't get to take the copy of their drug test to the employer. Is that correct?
They won't even give you the blood work. I tried to call the lab directly and they wouldn't fax it to me. It has to be faxed to the doctor and the doctor has to fax it over to the commission.
Going to the e-mails from John Petrilli to you. I guess I'm as confused as you are in that the only statement that ever went up from you to Bloody Elbow was the one from the source close to you which we were told was from you. But even that didn't place any blame on anyone but the commission. So I'm unsure why Petrilli is threatening you. Did he give you any indication what he was so upset about that he would threaten you with having your license suspended?
Basically he came out without ever calling me or asking me a question he jumped to me having made some statement. I've dealt with John Petrilli for eight years or so and having plenty of fighters fight on his show and we always had a good relationship so I was a little taken aback by him not even saying "did you say this? did you not say this?" Talk to me like a man and ask me questions before you say that some website is truth.
Basically he read the story and never asked me what I said. My first response to him was that I had no clue what he was talking about. I heard about the article through him and I'd never spoken to any media directly. (Source) told me that he had talked to you and that was fine but it got a little misconstrued. But no, John had never asked anything. I guess the way it launched put Strikeforce and him in a bad light so he needed a scapegoat to cover his ass and that was me.
Do you have any concerns about John's ability to impact your license? It doesn't seem to me that there's really anything there that he could do.
He has absolutely nothing he could suspend me for. What are you going to suspend me for? A statement I didn't make? You're going to suspend me for saying somewhere between the commission end and the doctor end something got screwed up? I'm not blaming him for that. Friday I stated the fact that it was faxed during business hours to the commission office and the fact that it was faxed to the arena in plenty of time for my fight. Those are all true statements.
For him to even threaten me with that. If they suspend me on something this ridiculous it's only going to make them look worse. They're acting like I set this up. Like I maliciously intended to do this and I keep going back to the thing that I'm not even the one that broke the story, so to speak.
Right, you took the fight on short notice. It's not like it was some sort of long term plan to sully their good name or something.
I mean, I cut 25 pounds which was the hardest weight cut of my life for this opportunity and then got slapped in the face. I wasn't ever going to say anything but John Petrilli insisted and started threatening me and what grounds does he have to suspend me. Are you kidding me? It's the stupidest thing I've head in my life. So basically I thought it was really unprofessional and bullshit that a guy who I have hundreds of e-mails where we have a good relationship and there's even one where he was wishing me good luck before this fight and congratulating me and then he threatens to suspend me.
Yeah, it seemed like a big turn from "best of luck, hope the weight cut goes well, this is your break" and then suddenly he's ready to try to get you suspended and is demanding for you to release a statement. As far as I know, even if you had placed blame on them via a statement that doesn't seem like something that you could get suspended or fined over.
It was just a ridiculous thing that he wanted me to apologize for something I didn't say to cover his ass. He was writing me out a pre-written statement that he wanted me to make. Three of them that he wanted me to release. Are you serious?
I'm not some 20 or 18 year old guy just getting in the fight game. I've been doing this shit for ten years. I own a gym, I'm around some of the biggest fighters and managers and I know how this stuff works. Some little rinky dink promoter ain't going to scare me into making a statement or doing something that I have no reason for.
And just to be clear, he was actually writing a statement that he wanted you to release? Writing it and saying "this is what you need to say?"
He e-mailed me two or three different statements stating that "this is what your apology needs to sound like" or "this is what your apology needs to be." Basically he wanted me to cut and paste a ten paragraph statement. I've never had anybody do that shit. It's like REALLY?! I had a good relationship with their show but the other thing that pissed me off was that he threatened to make sure that Rage in the Cage and Strikeforce would never use any of my Throwdown fighters. If he wants to go tit-for-tat on stuff I guarantee you I have more connections and more pull than that guy does.
The whole thing just boils down to my thinking it's really childish that he would take that route.
Is there anything else you'd like to say or clear up before we wrap up?
Just that my beef was never with Strikeforce. I am a little disappointed in how it played out. It would have been nice to have someone at least say "Thanks for coming out, here's a pair of gloves." or "Here's some tickets" or "we'll try to have you back on a show" but they didn't have any part of the wrongdoing in losing the blood work. They are the ones that decided to cancel the fight but there's no responsibility on them for the blood work being lost.