Al Turk To Appeal Loss, Highlighting Zuffa as Athletic Commission Issue

June 15, 2009

Our good friends over at Fighters Only are reporting that Mustapha Al Turk will be appealing his loss to Mirko CroCop, with the crux of the appeal being the eye poke by Mirko on Mustapha that lead to the ending flurry of punches that brought the bout to a conclusion. Al Turk’s agent Ken Pavia stated case for an appeal and laid out where he goes from here:

“We are going to appeal that, we don’t think its right that it should be a TKO. The referee should have got onto the eye poke,” said Al-Turk’s agent Ken Pavia. “Look at Henderson v Franklin at UFC 93 in Dublin. Franklin got a timeout when he got eye-poked.

“With the fight taking place in Germany we aren’t sure what the protocol is, but we will put our appeal in writing and see what we can do.”

The standard operating procedure in this situation would have Zuffa as the arbiter of the appeal, in the initial stage, according to the Zuffa Standard Contract:

Any and all Bouts that occur in a jurisdiction or country without an Athletic Commission shall be conducted pursuant to the statutes, rules and regulations of the State of Nevada in effect at the time of the Bout, including, but not limited to, the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts (the “Nevada Rules”); for the protection of the health and safety of the Fighter, to promote fairness in the administration of the Bout, and to preserve the integrity of the sport of mixed martial arts. In its sole discretion, ZUFFA may utilize the Nevada Rules in the oversight of any Bouts that occur under this Subsection 4.7. Fighter may appeal any advisory opinion by ZUFFA regarding any violations of the Nevada Rules relating only to Bouts that occur in a jurisdiction or country without an official government mandated Athletic Commission to an independent third-party arbitrator or arbitration panel selected pursuant to the guidelines developed by the American Arbitration Association. All costs and fees associated with an appeal taken pursuant to this Section shall be the exclusive responsibility of the Fighter. Regardless of where a Bout occurs, in no event shall a Fighter have any right to appeal a decision by ZUFFA relating to the UFC Title or the UFC Championship belts.

The question to ask in this situation is “Is there a sufficient firewall between the person who is acting in the role of commissioner, and the Zuffa brass who are making the monetary/financial decisions?” I would assume in this situation that former head of NSAC Marc Ratner is serving in the Keith Kizer role, or at least he should be. If Ranter isn’t the one in the commissioner role, and instead it is one of the folks from the biz end of zuffa I have to wonder about the ability of Zuffa to render a fair decision. Ratner has the experience (as a former head of NSAC) to operate in that role with the highest of effectiveness and integrity. Ratner has been said in the past to handle the drug testing procedures for overseas cards. If Ratner does serve in this role, are there the proper firewalls between him making the correct decision and not having to face undue influence from the business side of the company to tip the scales of justice? Dana White has bemoaned Al Turk’s opponent Mirko CroCop “screwing him” and his being outwitted by CroCop at the negotiating table could lead to . Ben Fowlkes over at CagePotato asks the pertinent questions about how this could pevert the process:

In the absence of an athletic commission, as is the case with UK events, the UFC oversees these things themselves. That means an appeal could conceivably be decided by the UFC brass, and they aren’t too happy with Cro Cop at the moment. You know what they say, the best revenge is changing someone’s win to a ‘No Contest.

We’ve seen in the past that eye-poke appeals aren’t guaranteed any degree of success, but here’s a good test of the UFC’s ability to police itself without oversight from a traditional athletic commission. Will they give this appeal a day in some form of a court, or will they just make it go away? And if they do deal with it, can they justifiably screw Cro Cop out of a win the way he screwed them out of a contract, or would that just seem too vindictive at this point?

Ben does a good job of fleshing out the thorny issues at play (kudos to Fowlkes in general, CP generally has a light tone but Ben uses his forum to ask some tough questions.) MMAPayout has questioned the lack of transparency in regards to steroid testing on the Euro cards, but as is seen in this instance, the problem mushrooms out from there into the various other aspects where the judgment Zuffa brain trust is brought into question.

Update: Ratner Says No Appeal Possible

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