We know Sean Salmon was knocked out by a devastating Rashad Evans kick. Hell, everyone has seen it played back endlessly on the UFC’s highlight loops . What we didn’t know was that it knocked him goofy.
There are two things that hurt the UFC’s potential as a mainstream sport. One is the fact that the groundfighting looks like the gayest of gay porn. There’s nothing they can do about that. The sport started with naked Greeks rolling around thousands of years ago, all oiled up and hopped up on gas fumes from the Oracle at Delphi. That is what it is. The other problem is the endless comparisons to pro wrestling. The UFC has to be squeaky clean. The integrity of the sport has to be unimpeachable. Enough fans already believe the fights are fixed. There’s no sense adding fuel to that fire; but that’s just what Salmon did in his blog at MMA Junkie .
“I handled him very easily for the entire first round. He was able to land one very good elbow to my temple. I am embarrassed to admit that my first thought was that, “If he cut me and I can’t go back to England, this is not worth it.” How in the world could I be in a fight and think that if I got cut, it is not worth the win?” Salmon wrote. “In the second round, I took him down again. He went for an armbar, I defended it (only to prove to myself that he couldn’t get it), and then I put my arm back in to give him the win so that I could return to England, healthy. Just so you all know, that is the most embarrassing thing that I have ever admitted out loud.”
Salmon’s admission is a promoter’s worst nightmare. Elite XC went under after Seth Petruzelli admitted he was paid a premium to stand and trade with Kimbo Slice rather than take him to the ground. This is significantly worse. Petruzelli merely allegedly agreed to put himself at a competitive disadvantage; Salmon just plain threw the fight. If this had been one of his UFC fights he was reminiscing about, the media coverage would be everywhere.
The UFC dodged a bullet, but it’s a constant risk, especially in a tight and insular community like MMA. There are no secrets. When word got out that Chris Leben hadn’t trained hard for his fight last weekend with Jake Rosholt, fighters and agents went running to place bets. Leben’s old trainer Matt Lindland even hinted to us on camera that the fighter might not have been completely ready.
“Chris, he’s been in and out of here,” Lindland said. “I don’t know what he was doing before he got here.I really can’t tell you.”
Now imagine the same thing happens with a fighter who has decided to throw a match. That’s a secret that just couldn’t keep. It would end up on a drunken Facebook posting, or someone would foolishly tell War Machine , and it would all be over. The UFC is at a real risk as they reach for mainstream success. The same media that was happy to write about the rise of the hottest new sport since Nascar will be just as happy to write about fixed fights in “The Ultimate Charade.” Hopefully calls are going out today to the UFC’s 100-plus fighters. In Dana White speak, fighters need to watch their f*cking mouths, because there are only so many bouncer jobs available in Vegas if the UFC goes under.
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