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Fightweets: NYSAC stakes its turf among worst major commissions

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Daniel Cormier

If it’s absolute bedlam as the hours wind down, we must be barreling toward a fight night in New York state. So, in the wake of the New York State Athletic Commission’s Towelgate and Implantgate and everything else that went down at the UFC 210 weigh-ins in Buffalo, let’s get right at it ...

UFC 210 weigh-in fiasco

@hunt5588: Not even sure what to ask. Can I just write "NYSAC WTF?"

You know what, Idaho-based amateur MMA fighter Chris Hunt? I’m going to allow it, because that’a pretty much what everyone is asking in the wake of UFC 210’s weigh-in weirdness involving UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, who meets Anthony Johnson in Saturday night’s main event at KeyBank Center.

First off, a bigger-picture question, with the benefit of hindsight: Did we really think strange doings in New York was going to end once the sport of mixed martial arts was legalized? Shouldn’t the mere fact that a ban was not only enacted by the state government, but also held up long after the sport was regulated in every other state, have been the tipoff that things weren’t going to go smoothly in other state-related government agencies?

Consider some of the things we’ve seen in the five short months the state has been hosting legal, professional MMA fights: The botched score reading at the end of the Tyron Woodley-Stephen Thompson fight at UFC 205, then the assignation of the way-in-over-his-head Todd Anderson as the main event referee for UFC 208 in Brooklyn, wherein Germaine de Randamie considered the round-ending horns suggestions as she teed off on Holly Holm with late shots.

Next thing you’ll tell me is they pick the wrong winners in pro wrestling matches, too.

And now there’s Friday’s UFC 210 weigh-in fiasco, in which Cormier weighed in 1.2 pounds over the 205-pound championship limit, re-weighed less than three minutes later, hit exactly 205, and then afterwards, Anthony Johnson, a man not known for coming in under weight, clocked in at 203.8, which is exactly 1.2 pounds under.

(Johnson’s camp, meanwhile, has said they’re going to wait until after the fight to assess this whole scenario, which sounds like “we’ll let it drop if we win and file a complaint if we don’t.)

Cormier had his hands on his towel during the second attempt, which is a trick that has been employed by wrestlers looking to make weight for roughly as long as wrestling weigh ins have been a thing. To which NYSAC executive director Tony Magoo Giardini basically took a “see no evil, hear no evil” approach.

Deep down, despite all the histrionics, I suspect most of us are just happy we’re still getting the advertised title fight this time around, especially after missing out on Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson last time around due to weight-related issues.

But if it wasn’t set in stone before Friday morning, it is now: Every time a major fight promotion goes to New York state, there potential for commission-inflicted bedlam lies just an inch beneath the surface. And that’s simply not acceptable in one of the biggest-money regions in the fight business.


@_Dennisaurus: Did Pearl Gonzalez get pulled from the card? and why?

And then there’s this. Pearl Gonzalez had to go all the way through with her weigh-ins before the commission decided to enforce a rule against fighters with implants, which nearly resulted in Gonzalez getting pulled from her strawweight matchup with Cynthia Calvillo, before common sense scored a rare victory and the bout was declared back on.

Let’s put aside for a moment the idea of a rule that mostly applies to one gender, which seems destined to be challenged in court sooner rather than later. Given that this is a rule, how did it get to this point? Why wasn’t Gonzalez screened for and/or made aware of the rules beforehand, when she was being licensed by the state? If the end effect of the commission’s apparent incompetence in Towelgate was mostly comedic, in Implantgate, it’s having a major effect on the livelihood of a woman who did nothing wrong. And that’s where the commission’s seeming incompetence has bigger consequences.

On the lighter side ...

@MattBeary: How do you lose 1.2 lbs in less than 2 mins?

Ummm ... 1. Hack off a small appendage (which I’m sure NYSAC has a rule against which they may or may not choose to enforce); 2. Take one of the most well-timed and quick No. 2s in history (which may be illegal if he didn’t use a NYSAC-approved toilet) or 3. Blame “excessive sweating,” which NYSAC executive director Giardini and no one else seems to believe.

DC the cheater?

@GoodTimeHaver: Would you say DC is equal to Jon Jones now in cheating or has he surpassed Jones because of the weigh in cheat?

My god, are you serious? Are we really trying to compare Jones string of legal history and drug-test failures with Cormier leaning on a towel? Cormier’s got a bit of BS artist in him — the “feud” with Ryan Bader when it looked like a fight between the two was going to happen a couple years back was one of the corniest staged things I’ve ever seen — but there’s a huge difference between this (in which the end result is that we still get the fight we want to see, with the title on the line) and Jones’ indiscretions (which have wrecked more big plans over the past couple years than any other fighter in the sport).

Still, though ... even if DC’s transgression was a misdemeanor, Jones needs little provocation to get on his high horse, and something he can and will hold over Cormier at every available opportunity. In a battle in which Cormier previously held all of the high ground, that’s something in Jones’ favor.

“Deserving” title shots

@_JonathanDGAF: Do you believe Jones deserves an immediate shot at the belt upon return?

Depends on what you mean by the word “deserve.” Are you asking me “Does Jones deserve a title shot based on what he’s accomplished in the cage and nothing else?” then the answer is a pretty resounding yes. Even with his lengthy absences, he’s still on one of the most astonishing runs in the history of the sport, and has never been legitimately defeated (go sit in the corner with a dunce cap, person about to argue that Matt Hamill’s “win” was legit). In this sense, there’s probably never been a fighter in the history of the sport more qualified for an immediate title shot after so much inactivity as Jones.

But then, what you most likely mean is “does someone who has repeatedly screwed up as bad as Jones outside the cage deserve an immediate shot?” and that’s certainly a fair point for debate. So much so that when Jones ran afoul of USADA last year just days before he was supposed to fight Cormier at UFC 200, Dana White said he couldn’t trust Jones headlining again any time soon.

Then you factor in the startling lack of depth at 205 pounds without Jones. If Rumble wins at UFC 210, there’s at least a trilogy fight with Cormier to sell. If Cormier wins ... I mean, maybe you hold out hope Alexander Gustafsson beats Glover Teixeira, then also hope the public is ready to buy Gusty as a third-time challenger? All of a sudden, whether or not Jones “deserves” a fight means much less than whether they can sell it as a headliner, and given Friday’s events, this sure seems like it’s ready to headline, again.

Reefer madness

@RuckerYeah: What should I make of this Gastelum thing?

Well, for the uninitiated, “that Gastelum thing” was Thursday’s news that Kelvin Gastelum was flagged by USADA for a potential violation of policy. Gastelum tested in-competition above the 180 ng/ml limit of marijuana and hashish metabolites following his recent win over Vitor Belfort in Brazil, a ruling that makes you wonder if all of a sudden Jeff Sessions is in charge of USADA.

The main story coming out of this is that the mere notion that USADA is still testing for marijuana is just straight-up ridiculous (if you’re going to argue that a rule is good simply because it is a rule, go grab your own dance cap and sit next to Matt Hamill Won Guy). Marijuana is not a performance enhancer. The only potentially justifiable reason is that you wouldn’t want a fighter to step in the ring impaired, just like you wouldn’t allow a drunk fighter in the ring. But Gastelum clearly wasn’t, and marijuana used well before the fight can stay in the bloodstream. The procedures used can’t accurately measure whether a fighter used within the “in-competition” time frame. What should come out of this is that USADA should review their own protocols, and in the meantime, we’re all deprived of Gaselum’s fight with Anderson Silva due to an asinine rule.

@Nate_Ika: Why isn’t Conor defending his damn title?

Allow me to let you in on a classified secret only the most select and privileged few have heard about and no one is talking about, Nate: Conor might fight Floyd Mayweather instead.