Sunday, November 7, 2010

Israeli Fighting Championships Has Too Much to Prove

Questionable fight records are nothing new in mixed martial arts, but usually it's exaggerated records that are the problem. In the case of Israeli Fighting Championships however, the problem is just the opposite. Israeli Fighting Championships will hold its inaugural event, "Genesis," on November 9th in Tel Aviv, Israel. If all goes as planned, the event will be Israel's first sanctioned mixed martial arts event. One glance at the bout roster and it's quite obvious that the promoters went all out to present a stacked card, as many well-knowns grace the ticket -- Shonie Carter, Frank Trigg, and Jeff Monson, to name a few. But a second glance at the card tells another story.

The Israeli Fighting Championships has recruited an interesting mix of international fighters for its first event, but many of the fighters' records create what many would consider to be a very lopsided event. For example, well-travelled Shonie Carter will put his 49-25-7 record up against Jeremy Knafo's 0-0 record. This pairing of two apparently mismatched opponents raises the question of fighter record keeping. Frank Trigg, who will take on Israeli fighter Roy Neeman at the Israeli Fighting Championships, recently appeared in a pre-fight interview in which he commented on this very issue:

"Roy Neeman is a very good jiu jitsu guy. He hasn't been very active as far as we can tell. But that doesn't mean anything because with me commentating for HDNet and all the Japanese organizations, I understand that a lot of the Koreans that come over, we have their records as 7-8 or 4-3, and their really like 35-12,'cause they've just had so many fights that we don't know or unsanctioned fights that we don't have any knowledge about, or there's no way of getting their records on them. So, this guy's 1-1 but it doesn't mean anything. He could have 35 or more fights. I think he's had like 20, 25 fights that's the best I can tell from my sources, but nobody's really sure 'cause it's tough to get a hold of them to find out."

Frank Trigg's thoughts on inaccurate foreign fighter records does shed some light on why many of the fighters on this card show such low records. Yet still, the fact that they may have experience that is not accounted for also suggests that they may have participated in underground or clandestine fighting arenas. This is not an idea that is limited to foreign fighters. Even here in the United States there are underground fighting organizations that regularly hold unsanctioned events. Some legitimate fighters have fought in these organizations. One that comes to mind is the Underground Combat League in New York, where current UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar started his fighting career.

Fights in underground, clandestine, or bare knuckle, no-holds barred street fighting organizations obviously do not count on a fighter's official record. So in turn, a fighter's record may not reflect their true level of fighting experience. However, one's official record does prove that a fighter possesses legitimate fighting experience. The lack of oversight in these underground fighting organizations is what puts their legitimacy in question. So, when it comes to a fighter like Roy Neeman, a foreign fighter who could possibly have a lot more fights than his record shows, we have no real way of accounting for the quality of competition he may have faced in the past. For all we know, Neeman could have faced any random bum on the street in his supposed "20-25" fights. So, while the idea of "don't let the record fool 'ya" may apply in the case of the Israeli Fighting Championships, we should also counter that idea with "don't let the word on the street about a fighter's unofficial record fool 'ya."

Frank Trigg interview and fight card below:

Israeli Fighting Championship: "Genesis"
November 9, 2010
Nokia Arena,
Tel Aviv, Israel

Shonie Carter (49-25-7) vs Jeremy Knafo (0-0)
Daniel Gracie (4-2-1) vs. Martin Wojcik (5-4)
Thiago Meller (16-3) vs. Ariel Abargel (3-0)
Hermes Franca (19-9) vs. Moshe Kaitz (2-2)
Ricco Rodriguez (44-11) vs. Daniel Tabera (16-3-3)
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (9-8) vs. Valdas Pocevicius (33-24-3)
Frank Trigg (19-8) vs. Roy Neeman (1-0)
Jeff Monson (38-11) vs. Sergei Shemetov (3-4
Thiago Meller (16-3) vs. Fabrice Riconneau (1-0)
Vitaly Shemetov vs. Alexandro Ceconi
Akop Stepanyan vs. Marc Berger
Joshua Hewlett vs. Ido Pariente
Serob Minasyan vs. Vitali Krbrsky

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