|04-23-2004, 02:17 PM||#1|
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Sportfight article in The Portland Tribune
Sportfights put the focus on fans
Freebies help fill arena for show combining boxing, wrestling, martial arts
By JASON VONDERSMITH Issue date: Tue, Apr 20, 2004
About 3,000 people watched the third Sportfight on Saturday in the Mt. Hood Community College dome.
Local promoters Randy Couture and Matt Lindland say it doesn’t matter that most of them got free tickets to the mixed martial arts show. The crowd was enthusiastic and seemed knowledgeable. The 12-fight show, entertaining and fast-paced with music and big screens, came off as well-orchestrated. A crew filmed the event for a UPN pilot show.
Lindland, a former Olympic wrestler originally from Gladstone, and Couture, an Ultimate Fighting Championship great who lives and trains in the Portland area, say they have to start somewhere. Hence, freebies galore, distributed through radio stations, casinos and sponsors.
“Gotta create awareness,” Lindland says. “I wanted to get the numbers in here.”
With boxing waning in Oregon and nonexistent in Portland, Couture and Lindland hope to bolster interest in a sport that combines boxing, wrestling and martial arts. Through their Team Quest fight club and their influences in the fight game, they have built a grass-roots following.
A fourth Sportfight is scheduled for June 26 in the Mt. Hood dome.
“These guys have done a good job,” says Jim Cassidy, executive director of the Oregon Boxing and Wrestling Commission. “It’s new to the state. We’re just going along with it and making adjustments as we go.”
The promoters use “Nevada rules,” which are basically the same ones instituted by Nevada for UFC events. Cassidy, in the wake of a botched boxing promotion in Pendleton last fall, required a $20,000 bond to cover state taxes and fighter and worker pay; six of the 12 fights featured pros.
Lindland says he bought a $2 million insurance policy, per Mt. Hood’s asking.
“Yeah, they had to comp a lot, but what the heck?” Cassidy says. “This is the way they’re going to build the business. Maybe eventually they’ll get 4,500 in here, and 3,500 will be paid.”
Couture and Lindland both will be in action again, soon. Lindland, tired of waiting for the UFC to sign him for an event, will fight Tony Frickland on May 7 in Hilo, Hawaii.
Couture says his rematch with UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort hasn’t been finalized but probably will happen in August in Las Vegas. The winner would fight Chuck Liddell late in the year. Liddell, in attendance at Saturday’s event, says, “I picked Randy in the first (Belfort) fight,” which ended with a fluke cut on Couture’s left eyelid, “and I’ll pick him again. He’s tougher.”
Meanwhile, Cassidy says he could find out this week about his job future. The Oregon State Police have been investigating him for the Pendleton event in October, after promoters failed to pay fighters and workers. Cassidy required only a $10,000 bond, and it didn’t cover the pay due one of the fighters and most of the workers.
Cassidy, told by the state police he could be punished with anything from a reprimand to firing, says, “It’ll never happen to me again — if they don’t terminate me.” He says all bonds for events will cover taxes and pay, so everything doesn’t rely on the gate.
“I don’t want to get terminated,” Cassidy says. “I don’t feel I will.”
|04-23-2004, 05:02 PM||#2|
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I think they are doing a fine job as well and think they are taking the right approach to this whole event promotion thing. I tip my hat to Randy and Matt.... good ****in work. Way to grow the sport!!
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