Before he stepped foot into the cage to face Brandon Vera for the inaugural ONE Championship heavyweight title, Chi Lewis-Parry made headlines – for all the wrong reasons.
After failing to submit his medical records and drug test results before the Dec. 11 clash, the undefeated Lewis-Parry was removed from his fight against Vera. None too pleased, Vera ripped Lewis-Parry in a video to his Facebook page (NSFW language).
In the wake of this, ONE Championship Vice President and former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin issued a statement via ONE's Facebook fan page, summarizing the situation and detailing exactly what happened and why.
I was looking forward to the Brandon Vera v. Chi Lewis Parry fight this week as much as every other fan. It is unfortunate to see this scenario unravel, and while I have seen many situations like this during my career, it is still baffling to me. Chi believes the organization has it out for him. If you think about this logically, ONE spent a tremendous amount of money marketing a fight between Brandon and Chi...only to remove Chi at the last minute??? This makes no sense.
Since Chi is attacking ONE's integrity, I decided to personally dig into this myself.
Chi wrote on his social media that ONE had not booked his flight to Manila for the press conference in October or for the fight in Manila. I am not sure which he is referring to when he replied "NOPE", ONE has a copy of the paperwork and official e-ticket booked for the press conference by our PR team provided as well as the fight week ticket.
In Chi's post, he claimed that a company representative told him not to board the plane for Manila this week. Unfortunately, it is another falsehood told by Chi or his management. Again, it makes zero sense for ONE to spend significant sums of money on marketing a fight only to pull it.
I have also spoken with our athlete services department about Chi's medical and drug tests. There's a detailed email timeline of the correspondence with Chi's management as part of ONE's records and recorded documentation of correspondence that began November 26th, with Chi's manager ultimately giving assurance on December 2nd that Chi would complete testing before arriving in Manila...along with confirming his shorts color and entrance song. Last week, Our VP of Competition, Matt Hume, was concerned enough about the situation that he asked Paul Cheng to come to Manila to do media and act as a last minute replacement in the event Chi did not submit medicals. As it turns out, Matt Hume's decision to have a backup plan for our main event was the correct one.
Finally I spoke to GAB (Games And Amusements Board), the governing body in the Philippines, in the event Chi sent his testing directly to them, and they had not received the proper testing either. It is clear that Chi did not provide the items he claims he has, and I welcome him to show us proof rather than accusations.
On December 7th, our Athlete Services reached out to Chi's manager via text at the time Chi should have been at the airport boarding for Manila...enquiring of Chi's whereabouts. No reply was given.
No trash talk...just facts. We were taken by surprise that Chi did not board his flight, as Matt Hume and I were looking forward to meeting him upon his arrival.
Vera will now face Paul Cheng (5-1) for the ONE heavyweight title in Manila.