THURSDAY, January 31st, 2008, AT 4:30 PM, PT

Don't Sanction Me???

Last November on the web site called a writer named John Philapavage wrote an article entitled "Don't Sanction Me". Philapavage asked the question, "What's a WAMMA? World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts? Well, what is it that it does? Sanction fights? Sanction?"

Philapavage was referring to the new proclaimed MMA sanctioning body named WAMMA, World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts. However, all WAMMA is so far is a fancy web site, which is not a stab at them, it looks good.

On their Champions page it says, "It is the goal of WAMMA to recognize the very best of the best in Mixed Martial Arts. A fighter recognized as a WAMMA Champion epitomizes the very essence of a champion in all respects." However, unlike the ISCF Rankings (That not only have many champions but also how, when and where they won their ISCF titles) there are no WAMMA Champions listed... Yet...

WAMMA has a rankings page, but again unlike the ISCF that lists not only the fighters names, but also loads of other info and a fight bio link to FCFighter, WAMMA placed 10 names for each rank on their page and called them "Their" rankings... But wait, they say, "The WAMMA Ranking Committee is comprised of the most knowledgeable MMA sports/media experts ever assembled. WAMMA has assembled a "Who's Who" of MMA sports/media experts from around the globe." OK.... We scrolled through the names of these important people, each with impressive bio's, but lets get real here. How many people do you need to determine the ranking of 10 fighters...? Many to them are just a name, since their rankings tell you nothing about them.

Godwin Asifo, WAMMA's International Relations Chair actually said "Without this organization, this sport will sputter just as bad as boxing has done. What it does is bring uniformity in a lot of areas that I teach in sport. Rankings for example, judging, referring, and above all it brings value to the customer, the fan and also the fighter. Really...? Makes you wonder where this sport has been and how it has survived this long without Asifo... and WAMMA.

When Philapavage used the title "Don't Sanction Me" for his article as his attention getter, what caught our attention was not that he proceeded to slam and bash WAMMA, but how LITTLE Philapavage really knows about "Sanctioning Bodies." More so, how little if anything he has ever known about the only REAL MMA Sanctioning Body in the world, as well as the Largest, the ISCF.

Who Makes A REAL Sanctioning Body Look Bad...
So this was Philapavage's opinion as to how worthless a Sanctioning Body for MMA is. Sadly to say, Philapavage must have been referring to those so called MMA sanctioning bodies such as Paul Smith's IFC, Frank Babcock's KICK, and other "Kickboxing" sanctioning bodies that now offer MMA Sanctioning for the mighty dollar since their kickboxing sanctioning has dried up. The truth is, pretty much all of these other "So Called" MMA Sanctioning bodies are "Rubber Stamp" organizations. "Send us some money and you can use our letters."

Paul Smith screwed so many fighters and venues in California that he was run out of the state!!! Give a call to Black Oak Casino (877-747-8777) in California and ask them how much they love him. The only people Smith's IFC seems to sanctions are either shows he is "Partners" in the promotion with or people he owes money to. In this case, to save himself from physical harm, he provides sanctioning in exchange for debt payback for promoters that need a sanctioning body in replace of a State Commission such as in Illinois. There's a book of bad work by Smith, and we don't have the room to type it all in here.

Don't get us wrong though, Kick is even worse... KICK has their own insurance company owned by Babcock's PARTNER, Ted Welch. Those who have promoted with KICK will see that Ted's "SON" Gary Welch, (Gary Welch Insurance in House Springs Missouri) will sign off on whatever insurance work they offer their promoters. Many of their promoters have even claimed they have never received an insurance policy when they sanction with KICK... Why? Because they don't want their promoters to see that THEY are the ones selling the insurance.

Ever visit the KICK International Headquarters at 483 South Kirkwood Road, Suite number 9 in St. Louis, Missouri? It's what KICK claims as their Headquarters... Well, don't hope to find anyone there because all it is is a MAILBOX in a UPS store...

Some fighters have said they hate paying the $25 ISCF Registration fee, which is a one time LIFETIME fee. However, if a promoter sanctions with KICK, KICK asks for $30 from each fighter, every 10 months. When Ted Welch is your event Representative, he is more concerned with getting his $30 fighter registration fee than reviewing the event check list with the promoter.

KICK's antics are what will get amateur MMA shut down eventually in every state. Why? It's a documented fact that many states are keeping track of mistakes and screw ups KICK makes. Their "End Around Game plan" is to take these mistakes to their state politicians and use the line, "Look at all these Amateur Sanctioning Bodies screwing up! We need to start overseeing Amateur events or ban them in our state!" They won't tell these politicians that the group screwing up is KICK and NOT ISCF! They will simply group ISCF in with KICK as "Just another sanctioning body."

KICK was once a recognized sanctioning body for kickboxing back in the early 90's. However, they have been nothing more than a laugh since 1998 as they try to piggyback on the success of other groups who have accomplished things for kickboxing. Their website, as well as all these other "So Called Sanctioning Bodies for MMA" don't even have rankings at all. KICK doesn't have kickboxing rankings either (Pro or Amateur), yet they will put two "So called" top contenders together for a KICK title fight.... Hmmmmm... How does that happen...? Simple, MONEY!

Many Amateur MMA Promoters are required to have their events sanctioned by what most Athletic/Boxing Commissions call a "Nationally Recognized Sanctioning Body". This requirement itself is another laughable issue... We have asked what this means and we have yet to EVER get a fully explained answer from any state athletic/boxing commission. Every Pro and Amateur Promoter has choices for sanctioning whether they need to or not. some choose to sanction while others police their own events. Of those who are required to sanction their events with a sanctioning body other than a State Commission, those wanting a legit, fair and regulated show usually sanction with the ISCF. Those who want to use their friends and buddies as event officials, allow pros to fight as amateurs and don't care about giving their fighters exposure outside of their own town will usually pay the known "Rubber Stamp" fee to other organizations like the IFC and KICK and ISKA and they are pretty much allowed to "Do as they please". In most cases, these sanctioning bodies allow the promoter or his best friend to be their event representative. Weigh-ins are no big deal in these cases. "Oh your 10 lbs over the weight spread, no big deal, just fight." Fight and make me some money. Who cares if it's safe or not...

It's a well known fact that fighters on ISCF Sanctioned events KNOW they will be safe and delt with fairly. As noted above though, some promoters feel the ISCF is a pain in the butt to deal with. So many rules, regulations and requirements. Instead of assuring fighter and event safety like the ISCF Promoters, they would rather pay that "Rubber Stamp" fee and be allowed to "Do whatever they want to." When you see an Amateur MMA event and it's not sanctioned with the ISCF, the red flag questions should go up. If you see one of these other so called sanctioning logos on their poster, the same red flags should go up. Worse yet are the shows that have NO Sanctioning at all. Not from a sanctioning body or a State Commission. THIS is where MMA has, and continues to get bad publicity.

These are the Promoters we should worry about when asked to fight on their shows. Are you assured as an Amateur you are not being matched up against a Pro who wants to pad his record? Will you be able to see your opponent weigh-in? Will you be able to see your opponents gloves? Is he getting 4 ounce gloves and you 7? Is the referee qualified and able to assure your safety? What is your opponent wrapping his hands with? What rules are allowed under this promotion or sanctioning body? You would be surprised what some allow... Do the judges know how to judge or are they just the promoters friends? Who is the doctor, or better yet, Is there a doctor? Is he an MD certified in Trauma reaction or maybe a Chiropractor? Is there an ambulance on site in case of emergencies? Is the ring or cage well built and padded correctly for your safety? So many questions... and in the end, the final question is "What are you fighting for?"

We don't mean money. We mean, WHAT are you fighting for?

In the ISCF, fighters are ranked and are RECOGNIZED as Fighters whether Amateur or Pro in three areas. The News pages here, the Event page and the Rankings. Even today, if you fought on an ISCF show 5 years ago, your name and accomplishments are still recognized on our past news pages. Even former ISCF Champions that are retired can be found on our Past Champions page.

EVERY ISCF Title ever won is either listed in the Rankings if still active, or on our Past Champions page. Fight on a show sanctioned by these other so called sanctioning bodies and you are forgotten about once you walk out of the ring... That may be fine with a promoter looking to save a few dollars and get that much desired "Rubber Stamp" of approval to make his state commission happy, but is that OK with YOU as a fighter?

Philapavage went on to say "Sanctioning bodies don't promote fights. Companies like the UFC and Elite XC promote them - and quite well." That's correct John, Sanctioning bodies DON'T Promote events. However, you will see the ISCF Promoting the Annual Amateur "Golden Glove" style Amateur MMA Championships (ISCF Amateur MMA World Classic) every year. An event open to EVERY Amateur fighter as long as they are TRUE Amateurs. This is the same type of Tournament the Amateur Boxing Sanctioning Body, USA Boxing hosts as well.

Philapavage went on to say, "Sanctioning bodies don't create fighter unions or take care of fighters. Theoretically managers and agents, or even fight teams/camps take care of the individual fighters." That's true too. However, we don't know of any Boxing or Kickboxing sanctioning bodies that do these things, so no big deal here. That's not the job of a "Sanctioning Body".

Philapavage went on to say, "Sanctioning bodies don't make rules and regulations for MMA fighters or promoters. State Athletic commissions do that." Actually John, this is where you are wrong. Yes, today a lot of States make their own "ADJUSTMENTS" to the rules of MMA. However, it was sanctioning bodies such as the ISCF that first started creating MMA rules and with the help of others, the first official "Unified Rules" came to be. In the beginning days of MMA nearly all the State Commissions knew anything about MMA, and many still don't. The ISCF has been and still continues to be asked to review rules and regulations for MMA in many states, and will always do so to help improve the State's knowledge of the sport.

Philapavage went on to say, "All it seems sanctioning bodies do is create and promote their own independent belts. While that might be attractive if everyone was going after those individual world titles, they aren't. Fighters are going after UFC belts because they're the championships of the leading fight organization. And since the UFC isn't recognizing anyone else's belts, and even Elite XC and Strikeforce aren't, then why should I. The outside sanctioning doesn't even seem to fit into lowly IFL's team plans."

Actually John, the ISCF is not and does not "Promote" the ISCF titles. Promoters who sanction with the ISCF can request ISCF Titles on their events. However they are still allowed to have their own title belts for their own promotions. What the ISCF HAS done is create a Legitimate and Justified Amateur Rankings so that when there is an "ISCF" title bout, everyone can be assured that it is between two "LEGIT" top contenders. These ISCF Amateur titles come from the TRUE Foundation of MMA and those looking to be a part of the Future of MMA as top contending Pro Fighters.

These larger organizations and their promoters may tell you they could care less about ISCF Titles and the ISCF Rankings, but we know for a fact that nearly EVERY MMA Promoter not only knows about the ISCF Rankings, but have admitted to the ISCF that the ISCF Rankings have been where they found fighters for their events. This was and still continues to be the same reality with the ISCF sister organization for Kickboxing, the IKF ( International Kickboxing Federation)

The IKF, like the ISCF is the only Kickboxing Sanctioning Body with up to date rankings in the various styles of kickboxing for both Pro and Amateurs that also include fighter and trainer contact information. No where else can you find a fighter, see where he/she stands among his/her peers and there is a trainer and contact number to call to book him or her on your event. So don't be fooled when a non ISCF Promoter or matchmakers of these larger pro shows doesn't want to admit they use the ISCF Rankings to find fighters. Not only have they told us they do, but modern web technology can tell us who visits the ISCF web pages, and you may be surprised how often those visits from TOP MMA Promoters are.

As for the comment "The outside sanctioning doesn't even seem to fit into lowly IFL's team plans." The truth here has nothing to do with the ISCF, who sanctioned all of the IFL ( International Fight League) events last year whether needing an outside sanctioning body or not. The ISCF is continuing this relationship with the IFL for 2008. In States last year where Athletic or Boxing Commissions did not over see MMA, the ISCF oversaw the entire event and where there was a State Commission involved, the ISCF did just like a Pro Boxing Sanctioning Body would which is allow the State officials to oversee the event in front of them. The IFL has made a lot of changes for their 2008 season that have restructured their entire company from the leadership down. One of those changes was having their events in venues that offered them the best deal or promotional package to come there. Those deals came from places like Mohegan Sun and Las Vegas, who both have Commissioned Venues and not locations such as Chicago, Illinois... So the IFL's plans had nothing to do with "outside sanctioning".

This brings us to Philapavage's last issue or opinion as he wrote, "The only thing I do know that sanctioning bodies will bring to MMA is rankings." Well, we don't need to go back into that again as we already did. NONE of these other "So Called' Sanctioning bodies even have rankings. They sell titles to any promoter willing to give them their money and they could care less what the fight records are of these title contenders. Even if they did, they have no rankings so how do they determine a Top Contender like the ISCF does? They don't. It's all about the "Rubber Stamp" everyone.

Philapavage went on to say, "Alphabet soup sanctioning bodies rely on top ten rankings to supply their organization with opponents. I think rankings are random and subjective opinions that are often laughable and best left to opinion columnists like me for content fodder 4-6 times a year. They aren't something for anyone to take to seriously." Again, we already discussed the reality of this above.

Philapavage ended his article with, "There's a reason UFC doesn't get locked into their own ranking system. You need to be flexible when booking fighting. Rankings invite disappointment and eventual indifference of fans and analyst alike. So why should I want or encourage outside sanctioning as a fan when it doesn't seem to add anything as a fan or supporter of the sport Anyone?"

Most fans will never know a good sanctioning body is involved in an event. unless, thy follow the news and rankings on a web site like the ISCF has. The ISCF allows opportunities for the fans to get more involved in the sport. As for what Philapavage had to say, a reply here may be better with a question... "Do you honestly think the UFC Champion is the BEST in the World?" Of course not, at least not always anyway.

First off, we are not slamming the UFC. The UFC deserves praise from EVERYONE in the world of MMA no matter how many things they do or have done that may have upset any of us. If not for UFC's TV deal with Spike TV, MMA would still be a sport needing to get recognition. That Spike TV deal brought the sport to the front lines and made it the fastest growing sport in the world!

So give UFC credit for trying to make better match-ups, but even UFC is loosing top fighters to other promotions just like a top football team will lose top players. The fighters fighting for a UFC title are surly the most recognized due to UFC's excellent TV exposure. Some of those UFC fighters may very well be the Best in the World. However, not all of them. More often than not, the two contenders for those titles were two fighters that the "Promotional Company" such as UFC came to terms with and signed a deal with. This is the reason "Promotional Companies" do not have rankings. If they did, they would be obligated to assure the top two contenders fight for their title. But what if they can't come to terms with one of those fighters and can't sign one of them? No big deal, just move on to someone else... Now someone else is marketed as the other "Top Contender".

This is no slam again to UFC. It's clear to many that they make the best effort possible to match up the top fighters. The purchasing of Pride and matching up UFC Poster Boy Chuck Liddell with a wild card like Quinton Jackson (Right) is proof enough of that. However very few thought Jackson was going to beat Liddell, who was marketed by loads of media as indestructible.

People will debate rankings forever, just like in Kickboxing, Boxing or any other "Individual" sport that requires a ranking. However, at least in the ISCF the rankings are firm and in print. They are made up of fighters who you, as a fighter, trainer, promoter or fight fan can actually see what they have accomplished. You can see that they have "Earned" their position in the Rankings. Before going to or after seeing an event, anyone can go to the ISCF Rankings 24/7 and look up a fighter to see who he or she really is and where they stand in a Legit Neutral Ranking System, not the web page of the promoters event. The ISCF has no reason to rank a certain fighter higher than another. There is no potential profit or gain from a PPV or Promoted event. Just "FIGHTERS" who have honestly EARNED their spot.

So next time you plan to fight on an unsanctioned event, or one of those "Rubber Stamp" sanctioned events, ask yourself "Why?" As a fight fan, next time you go to an event with a title fight, ask "How did this guy become a contender for a title shot?" And you may also want to ask "What kind of a Title is it?" Is it a Legit Title or a "Joe's Promotion Title" with two guys the Promoter came to terms with...

From Philapavage's article, he must think that WAMMA, (World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts) was attempting to be on the cutting edge by offering "Sanctioning' to the world of MMA. The leaders of WAMMA claim they hope to break "new ground" by creating stability in the sport of MMA. New Ground??? Really? WAMMA claims they will administer a rankings board for all MMA fighters, regardless of organization, will sponsor championship bouts, with the winners getting a WAMMA championship belt recognized globally and that many they have spoke to have expressed positive reactions towards the formation of a sanctioning body. Hmmmmm... They are talking as if there have never been any MMA Sanctioning bodies before them...

While others continue to make claims of what they "Want to do" the quiet ISCF has been doing this with integrity and honesty since 1999 sanctioning more pro and amateur events than ANY other MMA Sanctioning Body in the world with a proven excellent track record of fighter safety as well as overall integrity. Some of these other "So Called" sanctioning bodies should either take a lesson from the ISCF and run a legit sanctioning body or just close their doors, because it's clear as day they are not doing anything to better the great sport of MMA!

As for what WAMMA offers the sport, their expectations are high and intentions seem good so time will tell what they can offer and for how long. it doesn't appear they have any interest in sanctioning Amateur MMA, only the top pro events... That don't want or need sanctioning. To expect that any large organization such as the UFC or IFL need them or want to align with them to succeed, they need to step back and take a better look. Like in any sport, those with the TV Deal will always be the leaders, no matter what they do, right or wrong, ethical or not and the truth is, UFC doesn't need anyone...

The ISCF Mission For Mixed Martial Arts...
"Safety, Credibility, Fairness, Recognition, Support & Unification of Mixed Martial Arts Around The World"

"The goal of the International Sport Combat Federation is to regulate safe and fair rules and regulations and help provide exposure and opportunities for local, regional, national and international competition among amateur and professional mixed martial arts fighters, trainers, promoters and officials. We will, through adherence to and enforcement of these rules and regulations, strive to make competitive mixed martial arts fighting a safe and fair sport as we continue to help bring exposure to and enhance the present as well as the future of the sport we serve, Mixed Martial Arts."

Steve Fossum, President International Sport Combat Federation