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Monday, September 12, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- Sean Gannon to Make UFC Debut in the Near Future; What Does This Mean for the Sport?
One of the match-ups in the works for an upcoming UFC card would match infamous fighter Sean Gannon up against Hammer House team member Branden Lee Hinkle, according to a report by the Wrestling Observer.
Gannon was signed to a UFC contract several months ago, but has not been able to fight yet for the organization due to an injury. Gannon vs. Hinkle is likely to be an undercard fight, and is being considered for the UFC 55 card on October 7th, the UFC live special on November 5th, or the UFC 56 card on November 19th. The negotiations for the proposed Gannon-Hinkle fight are not finalized, but even if negotiations for this fight fall apart, the fact remains that Sean Gannon will be fighting in the UFC sometime soon.
While Branden Lee Hinkle has a 12-6 record in MMA and would seem to have earned his shot at the big-time in the UFC, Gannon's professional MMA record is just 1-0, according to both the Full Contact Fighter Database and the Sherdog Fight Finder. The fact of the matter is that Gannon got a UFC contract for his now-infamous underground fight with Kimbo Slice, and anyone who tells you otherwise is being disingenuous.
So, what kind of message is the UFC sending to prospective fighters by signing Sean Gannon? The message is an ugly one that could have very negative repercussions for the sport of MMA in the future, and that message is: "Do whatever it takes, film yourself in illegal underground street fights, and if you gain enough notoriety, there's a good chance that we might sign you."
This is a dangerous message that could result in serious injury or even death in the future, as other amateur fighters will undoubtedly try to imitate Gannon's actions in an attempt to get themselves UFC contracts the same way that Gannon did. In addition, anyone who sees Sean Gannon in the UFC and finds out how he got his shot at the self-proclaimed "Super Bowl of MMA" will be given a sleazy image of the sport. In this case, it wouldn't be an inaccurate perception, and in fact it's a mainstream media nightmare just waiting to unfold.
You would think that the UFC would breathe a sigh of relief, take a step back, and protect itself from this kind of image after the knock-outs of Tra Telligman and Terry Martin at UFC 54 (and the UFC's poor handling of the knock-outs during the live pay-per-view broadcast).
Fortunately, Telligman and Martin turned out to be okay. In the process, the UFC dodged a potentially huge freight train of bad publicity, which it would have been powerless to avoid.
Now, with Sean Gannon getting a chance in the UFC purely due to the notoriety that he gained from an illegal underground fight, the UFC is voluntarily stepping onto the railroad tracks and jumping in front of the train.