Alabama Athletic Commission suspends fighters participating in shows on Federal Sovereign land
The Alabama Athletic Commission has recently taken to Facebook to notify fighters that if they participate in what they call unsanctioned fights, they can face suspension. Fighters have been warned that their amateur status as authorized fighters in Alabama and their licenses are in jeopardy of being suspended and even revoked while professional fighters will automatically be suspended as is the case of Big John Ivey and his opponent from last Saturday night, Lester Blackmore. The two participated in an show on an Indian reservation (Sovereign Federal Land) hosted by Warrior Promotions out of Atmore, Ala. The show, WAR IV was held on Federal Tribal Sovereign land down and was announced as being sanctioned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Athletic Commission. WAR IV was actually held at the PCI Wellness Center on the reservation.
Monday morning, less than 48 hours after the fight, both professional fighters were suspended by the Alabama Athletic Commission along with several other amateur fighters. According to MixedMartialArts.com, Blackmore and Ivey are currently serving a suspension by an ABC-recognized athletic commission (ABC, Alabama). It does not reflect how long the suspension is for other than the fighter has been suspended. It also does not reflect if it is medical or punitive. The A.A.C. stated on Facebook that all these fighters would receive a 60 medical suspension instead of punitive.
USCS reached out to the Commission to ask for a copy of the suspensions list as it is public record and were told to check MMA.TV. We did so and found an alarming number suspended while others were not. The Commssion did not comment on why select few fighters from this event were not suspended.
At the Commission meeting held Feb., 13, representatives from the state stated the reasons for the suspensions were for safety concerns and that the State Commission could not guarantee that the fighters were properly vetted by medical staff before and after the fight. Jim Jernigan, President for Warrior Promotions, offered up blood work and any and all paper work that is required at other state sanctioned events to the commission on top of videos from each fight showing the fighters is in healthy conditions and evidence that the show was run like all other events sanctioned by other sanctioning bodies as well as the State Commission itself. Jernigan also offered up copies of the information of attending physicians along with his credentials and background showing he had everything required by other sanctioned events under the Commission to be the physician on hand for this event. At the end of the Commission meeting, Warrior was denied the right to submit their evidence and supporting documentation to show their show was run professionally and safely.
In a conversation afterward, Jernigan stated he plans to fight this and the main reason is that if affects too many fighters and is flat out wrong to suspend fighters participating on tribal land especially when he and his company are complying with all legal requirements regarding the paper work, safety and execution of a MMA event under the Commissions own guidelines for other shows in Alabama.
Jernigan also stated he reached out to King Of The Cage Promoters who are also battling this same issue in the State of Wisconsin regulatory commission. King of the Cage and the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians have been in heated discussions themselves over 60-day suspensions within their state’s Wisconsin’s Commission.
In an excerpt from Secretary Ross' (Wisconsin) letter to Lake of the Torches Casino Controller Karen Maki below:
"Please be assured that the Department of Regulation and Licensing (DRL) does not plan to automatically place participants in your event on a mandatory 60-day rest period.
Safety of fighters is paramount in our regulation of this sport in Wisconsin. We appreciate your offer to allow us to view the sections of your contract with King of the Cage regarding insurance and pre/post fight medical screenings. We would like to view these sections of the contract.
DRL also appreciates the information in your letter on the posting of event results. I would appreciate the chance for DRL and the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to continue our dialogue on the oversight of MMA."
Jernigan plans to talk today to a prominent Montgomery attorney to file papers preventing the fighters from being suspended and possible paper work to stop the state from interfering with his production on tribal land.
People are taking away from this recent drama across the U.S. that all fighters that participated in the fight on Federal Tribal Sovereign Land will be suspended as this is what was posted by the Alabama Athletic Commission on Facebook this past week and also in its private groups regarding events held in Alabama. These comments were specifically directed towards fighters as the commission openly stated it could not control what a promoter did on Tribal Land nor what the tribe itself did but they could go after the fighters.
Lobbyists for the tribe stated they would be happy to take back to the Tribe any offer of compromise the Commission offered to help prevent the commission from suspending fighters for this past show and also future shows. One representative stated it was not their job as the state to offer a compromise however it was the onus is on the Tribe to come to them and make an offer. They, the A.A.C,. only had control over the safety of the fighters and not the promoter nor the show itself.
It should be noted that the Warrior – WAR IV show’s cage side physician/surgeon was Dr. Travis Paul, a well known general surgeon based out of Atmore, Alabama that also practices in Bay Minette and the surrounding areas. Other medical staff on-hand were Atmore Ambulance Service.The show was officiated by MMA Hall Of Fame recipient: Mr. John Dixson and refereed Mr. Justin Myers a referee with more than 30 fights to his credit in the state of Florida. Dixson is also a licensed referee in Mississippi and is up for another Mississippi MMA Award this year.
In a comment made by Jernigan this past week on Facebook regarding the recent Ivey / Blackmore suspensions, Jernigan said, ”For the state to issue Mr Ivey a suspension or any other fighter of our last event a suspension would be just as insulting to my company and our MMA Community as it was for our War III event. My company has offered to share all documents and videos with the state. We have no intentions on paying them a fee to review the documentation or videos. Nor should the fighters be required to do so. If this is about safety, we should know soon.... Furthermore, I did not make Mr. Ivey aware that the state was threatening a suspension and he shouldn't be punished for laws he was unaware of. Even God refuses to punish those that are ignorant of his word. It's been hard to swallow the fact that our state has done a poor job of clarifying their intent to my company and the fighters have been ignorant to their intent also. The suspension forced on fighters that were required to provide the same documentation for us as they are required to provide for any other promoter in this state would be considered another attempt to attack fighters in an ungodly manor and an attempt to forcefully ruin Warrior Promotions LLC.”
It is currently unknown if the measures taken by the A.A.C. are legal as many other fighters have been discussing hiring an attorneys and challenging the A.A.C. on their suspension. Several individuals have suggested prominent attorneys from both the State of Alabama and the State of Florida to take the case.
What was once a local state issue is now turning into a major Federal issue as promoters from all over the U.S. may be banding together to help each other as the state tried to impose more sanctions on fighters.