e mërkurë, 20 qershor 2007

Connecting the Dots: Armando Garcia


How does one make the “lateral” leap to go from being a lowly boxing referee in a state not known for marquee boxing matches (Florida), to the executive director of the athletic commission of one of the most populous, economically profitable and athletically-inclined states in the nation (California)? According to fightnews.com, its all about the Benjamins – reportedly, Garcia landed his esteemed position with the CSAC with the simple promise to the Governator California of “mo money, mo money, mo money”.

So, exactly how does the CSAC make its bread? Well, according to the California Code, there’s the event fee, the matchmaker’s license fee, the assistant matchmaker’s license fee, the booking agent’s fee, the fighter’s license fees, the manager’s license fees, the fighter’s corner fees, the judge’s license fee, the referee’s fee, the timekeeper’s license fee, the sparring permit, the simultaneous telecast permit fee, the gate fee and the television broadcast fee. When you add it all up, a single event can produce hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue for the CSAC. And when you consider the fact that by far the two biggest fees charged by the CSAC are the gate and television broadcast fees, it becomes blatantly clear who the #1 cash cow for the CSAC coffers is – the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

And for that reason, it’s not surprising that allegations have been floating around claiming that Garcia has been exhibiting regulatory favoritism for the UFC at the expense of competitor mma organizations, especially considering Armando's bold promise to the Governator. And when you take into account Dana White’s reknowned tough-guy business tactics, it is not out of the question that Zuffa would use some of its muscle to exert influence over the Commission. Some examples of apparent favoritism follow:

  • CSAC initially denies Pride rules allowing for knees on the ground at the bequest of UFC representatives. Now that Pride no longer exists, Armando states that he is open to allowing knees.
  • CSAC prohibits Vernon “Tiger” White from fighting Raphael Davis in an IFL event due to “disparity of records” for the fighters.
  • Shannon Rich and IFL fighter Brian Ebersole are suspended due to the CSAC’s judgment that their September 2006 fight was worked.
  • CSAC prevented certain fighters with limited experience from fighting 3X5 rounds , but allowed the UFC to do the same “because it was the UFC.”
  • Diego Sanchez tests positive for marijuana in a December UFC event, but this information is not publicly released until later March of the following year.
  • Garcia publicly announces Johnnie Morton’s positive test for steroids.
  • Garcia publicly announces Royce Gracie’s positive test for steroids.
  • Garcia publicly announces Tim Percey’s positive test for methamphetamine.
  • CSAC publicly announces that the K-1 June show featuring Brock Lesnar in Los Angeles is in jeopardy due to licensing issues, causing ticket sales to decline.
  • CSAC prevents Hong Man Choi from fighting at K-1’s mma event in LA.
  • CSAC prevents Antonio Silva from fighting at K-1’s mma event in LA.
  • CSAC prevents Gabe Ruediger from fighting at K-1’s mma event L.A. due to Armando’s “diagnosis” that Gabe was psychological unfit to fight based on Armondo’s viewing of The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
  • The CSAC threatens to pull K-1’s promoter’s license if it allowed Hong Man Choi to fight in an event in Hong Kong.
  • CSAC initially prevents Ninja Rua from fighting in this weekend’s Strikeforce event.
  • Rumors have it that the CSAC contemplated barring Phil Baroni from fighting on this weekend’s Strikeforce card due to medical tests sent to the CSAC from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
  • CSAC suspends IFL fighter Joe Martin for punching his January 19th opponent on the back of the head.
  • CSAC suspends Strikeforce fighter Josh Thompson for wearing a T-shirt stating "Frank Glamrock is my bitch."
Granted, there is no smoking gun in this laundry list of events which have taken place in Garcia’s short tenure with the CSAC. However, the conventional wisdom is that in most cases of governmental corruption, there never is a smoking gun. Instead, what usually happens is the corruptive influences are appeased with a handshake here and a wink and a nod there. What we do know for sure is that (1) there is no evidence that Armando was in any way qualified to be the executive director of the CSAC, (2) the UFC is the organization that could potentially produce, by far, the most revenue for the CSAC (3) Dana White is known for using strong arm business tactics and the UFC has the freedom to shop around its events anywhere else in the world and (4) the CSAC appears to be making things awfully difficult for the UFC’s main competitors.

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