California Rules Being Broken For Bellator Tournament?

Posted: September 11, 2015 in California Combat Sports Law

Update September 17, 2015 – Today Andy Foster of the CSAC was kind enough to call to add some clarity to this situation.  Foster states that the names were drawn following Bellator’s last California event, that these were drawn by a CSAC inspector under his supervision.  In terms of how the CSAC deviated from s. 503 Foster explains that the commission is relying on s. 381 which allows the CSAC to “authorize alternate provisions from time to time as long as the safety and welfare of the boxers and the public are not jeopardized.”  The problem with this, from my perspective, is this section is limited to championship bouts and really does not seem applicable to an elimination tournament designed to create a title contender.

From an objective perspective, the integrity of the tournament draw is not particularly jeopardized with names being drawn ahead of weigh ins and deviation from s. 503 cannot be said to jeopardize “safety and welfare“.  Nonetheless the CSAC seems to be liberal in their interpretation of the regulations in accomodation of this event.

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I previously discussed that California enjoys the ability to host a one night elimination MMA tournament (unlike Washington which the WSOF recently learned).  However, it looks like one of the requirements for such tournaments is already being broken.

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator has released the rules for the 4 man tournament and that the California State Athletic Commission has already “conducted a random draw for the opening-round matchup” with the article stating as follows:

The first tournament fights see Phil Davis (13-3 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) face off against ex-champ Emanuel Newton (25-8-1 MMA, 8-2 BMMA) while Muhammed Lawal (15-4-1 MMA, 7-3 BMMA) vs. Linton Vassell (15-4 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) rounds out the field.

The problem with this? The regulations specifically allowing one night MMA tournaments prohibit the first round match-ups from being pre-selected until the weigh ins.  Specifically s. 503 of the Regulations reads as follows:

§ 503. Tournament or Elimination Format Contests – Selection of Opponents.

In any tournament or elimination format contest, the commission shall determine the initial opponents in the first round of the tournament by drawing names at the weigh-in. 

Bellator can legally host their tournament but it is unclear why this very specific rule is being ignored.  Time will tell if the CSAC will overrule these pre-determined match ups and instead follow the letter of their regulations.  For the sake of fairness for all involved this should be clarified immediately.

I have reached out to the CSAC for an explanation and will update this article once I have their reply.

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