The Maximum Fighting Championship announced the release of three fighters on Tuesday, including former lightweight champion Antonio McKee, who was officially cut after missing weight by seven pounds for his title defence last Friday in Edmonton.
Also let go by the Edmonton-based organization was his opponent Brian Cobb, who lost to McKee in what ended up being a three-round, non-title catchweight bout in the co-main event of MFC 32: Bitter Rivals, as well as James Haddad, who were the other fighters to miss weight but by smaller margins.
McKee was set to defend his belt before coming in well over the 155-pound target at the weigh-ins last Thursday. He was immediately stripped of his belt and MFC owner/president Mark Pavelich said after his "farewell fight" the following day he would never fight in the MFC again, "even if he wins by flying armbar or knockout."
"And I’m not like Dana White," added Pavelich, referring to the UFC president as having given second chances to fighters he’s said would never fight for him again. "When I say ‘never,’ I mean never. My never is forever."
McKee ended up winning by close unanimous decision (29-28) and was then sent packing. Pavelich explained it was about more than just not being on target for his contracted weight.
"I was thoroughly disgusted by the lack of professionalism that Antonio McKee showed towards the belt he was scheduled to defend as well as the (MFC as an organization)," Pavelich said."It was unacceptable behaviour for a champion to demonstrate. On top of that, Antonio never really apologized for missing weight that badly. That was the end of things for him with the MFC."
Pavelich said prior to the fight that Cobb, who missed weight by just 0.6 pounds, would have been kept under contract had he won but cut with a loss.
"It’s disappointing to have to release Brian as he is a tremendous character person … but unfortunately he admitted to making an error in preparing for the weigh-in and was over the limit. For a title fight that is a big mistake."
Haddad, who was two pounds over for his lightweight bout and then lost by decision to Dan Ring, ended up being in the same boat.
“I love to give people the ramifications involved with the scenarios all the time, because they’ll understand what page I’m on in 2012,” Pavelich said. "I hope it’s a message to all the other fighters in the MFC."
Also bidding farewell to the MFC on Friday was the ring itself — the promotion will be switching to a cage on a full-time basis.
The circular cage — ironically nicknamed "The Ring" — that will be in use for all future events was first employed at MFC 29 last April for their first show in Ontario, whose province’s athletic commission requires all MMA fights to take place in the cage.
The MFC, which continued to use the ring for its shows in Edmonton as it had for all of its existence, did so for the last time on Friday. Pavelich, who has always maintained that the ring is better especially for the live spectators because it’s better for viewing the action, says their permanent move to the fenced enclosure is a good sign for fans, especially those in Ontario.
“People should be excited in Ontario, because if I’m switching after 12 years of being the biggest advocator on the planet to be inside a ring … it’s your province that doesn’t allow us to fight in a ring, so that must mean I’m making plans to come back to Ontario if I’m ready to abandon the best apparatus possible to fight on.”
Indeed, Pavelich hopes to return to Ontario again in 2012, but remains in talks with Caesar’s Windsor (where the first show was held in 2011). The only other location he said he would consider would be somewhere in downtown Toronto.
He said he is also working on a deal with LiveNation, one of the biggest concert promoters in the world, to bring the top Canadian promotion to the U.S., hopefully this year.
His goals remain lofty. He is hoping to have more shows in 2012 than he has the past few years — he held four each year in the past three after putting on five in each of 2007 and 2008.
“This year, I’m looking at at least 5-6 shows, and in 2013 if I don’t do eight shows, I might as well just retire from this industry," Pavelich said.
His next event is May 4 back at the Mayfield Conference Centre in Edmonton.
NOTES: In MFC 32’s main event, former UFC light-heavyweight Wilson Gouveia defeated Fort McMurray, Alta’s Dwayne Lewis in the organization’s first five-round, non-title fight. Pavelich insisted he had his own plans to do that and wasn’t simply following the lead of the UFC.
“We always felt that guys train for a five-round title fight all the time but they really have never fought in five-round fights (apart from practice). So now you’re going to get that feeling (for real) before you ever fight for a title.” …
Fights in the MFC are now also being scored with the much-talked-about half-point system that was put into place by Edmonton’s athletic commission, where judges can award scores with half-points. Pavelich said he’s not opposed to it, but is not sure it will make a big difference. …
Pavelich said the commission was looking at other new ideas, such as letting fans and fighters know how judges scored a round after each one is completed. He said he was in favour of that change.