By Lisa Teichner
It was a bizarre weekend for MMA in Hawaii. Of course, locals poured themselves into and out of the bar scene to watch Anderson Silva knockout Vitor Belfort with a completely unexpected front kick to the face. Silva’s front kick knockout is another great addition to the Matrix Moves of MMA as of late including Anthony Pettis’ off the cage leap kick to Ben Henderson’s face and pretty much any soccer knee to the head finish of Jose Aldo’s.
Other than the UFC fights and Steeler and Packer fan drunken backyard brawls, there were a few MMA events scheduled to take place this past weekend in Hawaii including Kauai’s Garden Island Cage Match 10: Mayhem at the Mansion 2 and the event currently surrounded by major controversy, Atomic Aftermath, February 5, at Martinez Gym on Schofield Barracks Military Base, Oahu.
The scheduled main event was Tasi “The Tyrant” Edwards (Edwards MMA & Waianae Boxing Club) vs. Jason Guida (Midwest Training Center). This was to be a very important fight for Edwards as there were scouts from Strikeforce and Bellator in attendance as well as Sherdog and famous MMA ref, Big John McCarthy. The winner of this 205 “World Title” bout was to move on to fight UFC Veteran Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine in May.
Depending on who you talk to, you may hear a different story about what happened on Saturday night but the one element they all have in common is confusion.
Maui Now spoke with Justin Garfield, Tasi Edwards’ strength and conditioning coach and here’s what he had to say:
“Everything seemed fine at the weigh in and press conference held on Friday afternoon at Round Table in Waikiki. On Saturday night, they showed the UFC event live on the Jumbotron at Schofield Barracks as kind of a pre-show, while they were waiting for Atomic Aftermath ticketholders to file in.
The event was about to start when Guida’s camp said they were pulling out of the fight. Apparently Guida had some issues with the promoter and asked to see the fight purse.” Promoter Jeremy Varney then expressed that the prize money, $25,000 in cash, had been stolen from someone’s car and that he would provide checks to the fighters. Guida, as well as many of the other fighters, refused to accept a check.
Varney pleaded with Guida to fight but Guida jokingly mentioned something about having old legs and needing cash to pay his hospital bills.
Garfield said that he understands a fighter not wanting to fight for free but felt “the whole thing was fishy”. There was not a great turnout and the promoter may have panicked when he saw the hall was just a quarter full. There is some talk that he cancelled the event at the last minute because he could not cover the fight purse with ticket sales.
Normally the state requires the purse money to be bonded/insured, however since this event was scheduled on a military base, they were not subject to such state law.
After the fighters were told that the money had allegedly been stolen and just before the promoter cancelled the event, Tasi Edwards decided to address the crowd to let them know that he was prepared and ready to fight.
UFC fighter and Jason Guida’s brother, Clay Guida (who according to Garfield, had one too many drinks), took the microphone and proceeded to call Tasi a “kid, who didn’t understand the sport of the fighting”. Tasi’s brother Junior responded to Guida by saying “Fighting is our life here in Hawaii, it’s not just a sport to us from Waianae”. Needless to say, the crowd was on Edwards’ side, were “less than pleased” and “it looked like there was going to be a riot” Garfield said.
Everyone ended up apologizing, Guida’s camp offered to bring Edwards to Chicago to fight and promoter Jeremy Varney refunded most ticketholders their money.
This type of incident is larger than any one event. It is a reflection of the sport of MMA in Hawaii. The experience of the fighters and patrons in such a situation influences how the public perceives MMA here. Those who witnessed the cancellation and drama surrounding Atomic Aftermath, especially those with great influence in the sport of MMA, will convey their experiences and biases to other people of influence, their camps and fans. Every Hawaii promoter and event is an integral part of the big picture, determining the evolution, development and success of the fighters and of MMA here in Hawaii.
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