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Saturday, January 17, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts: Nevada Commission Meets with UFC about Controversial Behavior on The Ultimate Fighter
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
At a meeting in December for which an official summary was released yesterday, Nevada State Athletic Commission officials expressed concerns to UFC officials about some of the behavior that was exhibited during the controversial eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter.
For each season of The Ultimate Fighter, dating back to the first season's filming in late 2004, Zuffa has requested and been granted a waiver of the NSAC's regulations relating to the results of NSAC-sanctioned fights being posted publicly. This allows the results of the fights on The Ultimate Fighter to remain secret until the fights air on Spike TV months later. These waivers must be requested and granted for each individual season of TUF.
Prior to granting the usual waivers to Zuffa for the upcoming ninth season of TUF, which recently started filming and is tentatively scheduled to begin airing on April 1, the NSAC wanted to talk to Zuffa about some of the behavior in the eighth season of TUF.
Present at the meeting were Lorenzo Fertitta, Frank Fertitta, Dana White, Marc Ratner, Kirk Hendrick, Michael Mersch, Lawrence Epstein, Andrea Richter, and Craig Piligian, at least four of whom were previously part of the NSAC in some capacity (Lorenzo Fertitta, Ratner, Hendrick, and Mersch).
Also present at the meeting were NSAC Commissioners Bill Brady, Skip Avansino, John Bailey, T.J. Day, and Pat Lundvall, as well as Executive Director Keith Kizer, Recording Secretary Sandy Johnson, and David Newton, who was attending on behalf of the Attorney General's Office.
After Lorenzo Fertitta's Power Point presentation on the history of the company, NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer said that there was "some concern about behavior displayed by some of the contestants" during The Ultimate Fighter 8. The NSAC's official summary of the meeting goes on to say, "Lorenzo Fertitta stated that the UFC does not condone the behavior of those contestants and wants the State and the sport to be reflected in a good light. Lorenzo Fertitta stated that in the future there will be a closer look at any behavior that might be offensive prior to broadcast, and that Zuffa does not encourage such behavior and had no prior knowledge of it occurring."
After Commissioner Skip Avansino thanked all of the parties involved for attending the meeting, "Commissioner Avansino stated he did talk with Mr. Fertitta on the phone and he is confident that Zuffa will endeavor to monitor the show so such behavior will not occur again, and there will be no further incidents."
According to the official summary, "Lorenzo Fertitta then explained a UFC event had been held the week prior in Fort Bragg, NC, benefiting the Fallen Heroes Fund and that the contestants visited the soldiers in the hospitals, all of the admission was free, and they raised $4,000,000 for the fund."
At that point, Commissioner Avansino made a motion to approve Zuffa's petition for the usual waivers for the ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Brady and approved by all of the commissioners.
The specific behavior in question was not detailed during the meeting, but among the incidents that occurred during TUF 8 were several involving Junie Browning. Throughout the course of the season, Browning threw a glass at Kyle Kingsbury; got into a poolside scuffle with Ryan Bader; jumped over the Octagon fence and went after Efrain Escudero in an aggressive manner immediately after Escudero defeated Shane Nelson in an NSAC-sanctioned fight; threw a glass at Shane Primm's head; and threw two punches at Primm. Browning was not kicked off of the show for any of these incidents, and was later featured in a fight on the televised main card of TUF 8's live season finale on Spike TV.
Also during the eighth season of TUF, several members of Team Mir urinated in a platter of fruit salad that was later eaten by several members of Team Nogueira; Kyle Kingsbury mixed his semen into a sushi platter that Dave Kaplan may or may not have later eaten; Tom Lawlor knocked Kaplan unconscious with a punch to the face after an intoxicated Kaplan begged him to do so; and Lawlor and Kaplan voluntarily drank shots of each other's urine while they were both intoxicated (although the voluntary urine-drinking was edited out of the show at the last minute in what was referred to as "a last-minute editorial decision" by Spike TV).
According to an article by Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole that was published on January 13 (several weeks after this meeting took place in December between Zuffa and the Nevada State Athletic Commission), "UFC president Dana White said he’s not going to require the fighters to change anything about the way they behave. That means alcohol stays in the house and the fighters are free to do what they please when they please."
White was quoted in the article as saying, "If you take any young guys, from a frat house, and put them alone and together you’re going to get that kind of stuff. Welcome to dealing with young guys. I’ve talked to the pro skaters and snowboarders and they helicopter guys up to a house and sometimes they get snowed in. They told me that some of the [expletive] that happens with those guys makes what happened on The Ultimate Fighter look like a joke.”