A surefire way to foster goodwill with fighters and fans is for a promotion to air their grievances in a public forum. No, wait, I mixed that up. Airing grievances in a public forum is the exact opposite way to foster goodwill. But don’t tell World Series of Fighting Executive VP Ali Abdel-Aziz that, because if there’s a wall separating the process in which the promotional sausage gets made and what the world sees, he’s committed to running head-first right through it.
Case in point: leglock master and sometimes cheater Rousimar Palhares, who had to pull out of an anticipated bout with Jon Fitch at WSOF 11 for “personal reasons”. It doesn’t really matter what those reasons are, or what his absence does to the card. What does matter is Abdel-Aziz making it a federal offense.
As per MMAFighting’s interview with him:
“We’re getting screwed,” he said. “I’m trying to put on a fight card and be nice to fighters, and now they dont want to fight each other.
“I have to put WSOF first and everyone else second. No more Mr. Nice Guy.”
Abdel-Aziz said he has grown increasingly tired of fighters turning down fights after agreeing to them and/or asking to be released with hopes of signing with the UFC or other promotions. Just last week, WSOF agreed to release Andrei Arlovski from his contract to sign with the UFC. Prior to that, Josh Burkman and Gerald Harris, who says he is now retired from MMA, publicly complained about their status with WSOF. He added that there were other similar examples that he wanted to keep off the record, as well.
“I’m getting sick of this,” he said. “If a fighter is not going to respect the promotion, he is going to be shelved for a long time. I will not release anyone to another promotion. Fighters must honor their contracts.”
Putting together fights is an endeavor with a lot of moving parts, and so much happens behind the scenes that we never – and should never – see. But threatening to punish fighters by forcing them to sit out… that’s something that should never come out of the mouth of the vice president of a prominent MMA organization. At least not in public.
According to this, Palhares had to withdraw from the fight to take care of his ailing mother. Man, Abdel-Aziz needs to never open his mouth again.