Morning Report: Leonard Garcia's management calls Bjorn Rebney's impostor rep claim 'childish and far-fetched at best'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

After enduring weeks of bad publicity, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney finally went on the defensive late last week. In an extended interview with MMAFighting.com's Luke Thomas, Rebney responded to several of the accusations cast towards his promotion by current and former fighters.

Though one of the most compelling aspects of the conversation arrived when Rebney denied claims made by former UFC featherweight Leonard Garcia that Bellator made him a contract offer, which Garcia was wholly uninterested in signing.

"Not only did Bellator not offer Leonard a deal, but we've never spoken to Leonard," Rebney said. "I will say this and it's probably important for you to get out there because it's important for us as well. For some reason that we don't understand, there are a collection of people out there making phone calls to different gyms and different managers right now claiming to be talent development people with Bellator and Spike.

"So, I have no idea how Leonard Garcia got contacted or by who, but it wasn't by Bellator. We won't be signing nor do we have any interest in signing Leonard."

Rebney's denial of any contract offer, and subsequent revelation of an impostor Bellator representative seemingly put the issue to rest. That is, until Garcia's management team caught wind of the story.

"In light of Bellator's alleged legal chicanery with their own champions like Eddie Alvarez and Zach Makovsky, and high-profile fighters like Leonard Garcia making known their desire to avoid a potentially bad situation, it is not surprising Bellator is trying to get ahead of the bad PR plaguing their promotion," Garcia's representatives at Haymaker's Empire Sports Management wrote in a statement, via MMAjunkie.com. "However, this story about a 'phantom' Bellator representative making phony offers to fighters just strains credulity.

"One must wonder, if this had actually been occurring, why Bellator waited until now -- after Garcia made known his and other fighters' mistrust of their promotion -- to suddenly decide to make mention of 'The Bellator Phantom.' The claim appears childish and far-fetched at best."

Haymaker's Empire Sports Management President Jerry Villasenor followed up by mentioning that a Bellator representative contacted the ex-UFC fighter almost immediately after news broke of Garcia's release. Villasenor then closed by offering his personal take on Rebney's explanation.

"Leonard got the call the day it had been announced that he had been cut by the UFC," said Villasenor. "He received tons of calls for interviews and tons of calls from promoters expressing interest. I think once they realized that Leonard had no interest is when the 'Phantom' was born."

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6 MUST-READ STORIES

Rebney responds to criticism. In a lengthy interview, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney responded to a litany of accusations cast against his promotion in recent weeks by current and former fighters.

Garcia disputes Rebney's claim, signs with Legacy. The management team of former UFC featherweight Leonard Garcia vehemently disputed claims made by Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney in the above interview. Within a statement given to MMAJunkie.com, Garcia's team said Rebney's accusation of an impostor Bellator representative was "childish and far-fetched at best." Meanwhile, Garcia inked a multi-fight deal with Texas-based Legacy Fighting Championships. The 33-year-old plans to make his promotional debut July 19th against Rey Trujillo at Legacy FC 21.

Newell, XFC split. XFC president John Prisco stripped Nick Newell of his XFC lightweight belt after the one-armed fighter allegedly refused to defend the title against top contender Scott Holtzman. Newell, however, denied Prisco's claim, telling MMAFighting.com that he opted out of his contract in search of tougher opposition to impress the UFC.

Velasquez focused on Silva, picking JDS. UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez knows he'll be seeing Junior dos Santos soon enough. But if 'Bigfoot' Silva expects Velasquez to be taking their sequel lightly, he's in for a rude awakening.

UFC bookings. The UFC returns to Indianapolis, Indiana on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the promotion's sophomore event on UFC on FOX Sports 1.

Thomson rips Diaz. Speaking to BJPenn.com, UFC lightweight contender Josh Thomson responded to Nate Diaz's bizarre post-loss insults by accusing the Stockton native of missing weight prior to the pair's UFC on FOX 7 bout.

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MEDIA STEW

If you've ever seen The Wire, you understand how awesome this is.

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The sofa had enough. Now Tarec Saffiedine's 2-year-old is pummeling the laundry basket. (That combination at 0:15 is adorable.)

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One big man smashing the lights out of another big man with one meaty punch? Sounds like perfect Morning Report material.

Props to Guilherme Arantes for the find.

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Fighters Only was in Dubai this past weekend to give us a behind-the-scenes look at Paul Daley's DFC 4 victory. (Check out that gold-plated iPhone! Only in Dubai...)

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And just in case that camera angle didn't allow you to understand the severity of Daley's KO, here you go:

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Metamoris 2 is killing it so far with its trailers.

Props to New York Ric for the find.

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One more gem from DFA 4, just because this 'out on your feet' gif is so hypnotic. As always, props to our pal Zombie Prophet.

Out_on_your_feet_medium

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EDDIE'S TURN

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TIPPING THE SCALE

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NEW PASTURES

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RECOVERY

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WELL PLAYED

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THIS GUY

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced over the weekend (Friday, May 9, 2013 - Sunday, May 11, 2013):

  • Legacy FC 21: Leonard Garcia (15-11-1) vs. Rey Trujillo (14-10)

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day is a depressing headline from NickPT: MMA Injuries: Gegard Mousasi Has Second ACL Surgery

In an interview with MMAJunkie.com Radio on May 10, Gegard Mousasi acknowledged that he recently had surgery to repair a torn ACL. Even worse, he confirmed that the he tore the same ACL that was previously repaired in March 2012. He entered his UFC on Fuel TV 9 fight in April against Ilir Latifi knowing that his knee was injured.

In the interview, Gegard indicated that he used the same surgeon that did his previous ACL reconstruction, and that the failure of the first surgery "wasn't about the surgery. It was just, maybe training too early or something like that that caused the problems... the surgeon didn't do anything wrong." He anticipates returning to action the end of this year, or possibly January 2014 depending on when the UFC has a fight for him.

When asked if his rehab from this ACL surgery will be different from last one, Gegard replied "We're moving a little bit more faster forward with this one. Its healing also much faster than last time because they did less damage to my knee, so the recovery is going also faster this time."

From a rehab and recovery standpoint, there is a lot to sort through in the new information that Mousasi divulged. First in my mind is the failure of the first ACL surgery. Mousasi indicated that the most recent surgery "did less damage" to the knee than the first. I therefore presume that the first surgery used the traditional patella tendon graft to replace the ACL, where an incision is made over the patella tendon below the knee cap to harvest part of the tendon as well as a bone plug at each end of the tendon. (This is called a bone-patellar tendon-bone, or BPTB graft.) This is the "gold standard" for ACL construction, and the fact that this surgery failed is not good.

If the first surgery used the BPTB graft, his surgeon had to resort to a back-up source of ACL graft for the second surgery, such as cadaver allograft or hamstring tendon graft. While these do not involve the extra incision as in the BPTB graft (thus "less damage" to the knee), they come with their own unique challenges for recovery, especially in an elite athlete. The cadaver allograft takes longer to incorporate (or "take") within the knee. The allograft has an increased potential to rupture again, especially in a young, elite athlete. (Ask Dominick Cruz about this one.) In my opinion, the hamstring tendon graft would be preferable in a second ACL repair, as it uses one's own tissue to replace the ACL. However, the hamstring tendon graft takes longer to heal as well (compared to BPTB grafts), as there are no bone plugs at the ends of the hamstring tendon graft. Soft tissue-to-bone healing takes longer than bone-to-bone healing.

For the ultimate health and stability of Gegard's knee, I hope he had the hamstring tendon graft. He stated that his recovery is moving "a little bit faster" than the last time. However, it is very early in his recovery at this point, and "moving faster" probably means that he is no longer on crutches, he may be performing low level quadriceps exercise, etc. Ultimately, I feel that his rehab may take longer than expected, simply because he probably had one of the alternative ACL replacements in his second surgery. I would not expect him back in the Octagon until January 2014. (His own time frame in the MMAJunkie.com Radio interview was November - January.) As with all injured fighters at this elite level, there are the two variables that are not typical of the average patient that has this surgery- an incredible level of dedication to returning to a high level of competition and a dedicated rehab team that he probably has access to every day. This level of dedicated rehab can safely return a fighter to competition sooner than expected. Let's hope that is the case for Mousasi.

Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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