Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mark Pavelich Speaks on Celebrity Refs, MFC Stock Dips?


MFC president/owner Mark Pavelich.
[Pic Props: ProMMANow.com]
The Maximum Fighting Championship's stocks dropped earlier this week when president/owner Mark Pavelich made comments about referee pay.

Ever since HDNet started covering MFC events in 2008, I've kept my face pressed to the t.v. screen like a kid at the pet store whenever their events are aired. I'll be the first to defend Bas Rutten when he blasts how the MFC puts on some of the most exciting fights in MMA. But as much as I'd like to see the Maximum Fighting Championships continue to make progress in the post-Zuffa-Strikeforce purchase era, I can't help but to think about the one thing could hinder the organziation's progress -- it's very president and owner, Mark Pavelich.

I've defended Mark Pavelich's often criticized personality right here on this blog. The guy is a promoter, and you can't promote anything or any organization without a personality, but sometimes his personality, most notably his mouth, is the detriment of MFC. One recent example of this was Pavelich's airing out of what he called "celebrity referees" in his personal, venting series, "Yeah, I Said It!".

In the article, Pavelich went in on referees who he describes as "charging anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000" to officiate an event. He challenges commissions to better regulate referee pay, and generally expresses his disgust with the "ridiculous" cost of MMA referee services.

Pavelich's rant didn't go unanswered. Yeah, he said it, and saying it signaled a response from MMA's most famous referee, Big John McCarthy on The Underground. Big John points out that Pav was influenced by former River Cree commissioner Dale Kliparchuk and referee Brian Beauchamp, who are apparently disgusted with situations and other drama I don't have the typing energy to type about. At any rate, John's point is simple:


"If I have a promoter contact me about working their show it is my right to ask for whatever fee I feel is fair. Most of the time that promoter is using my name to help promote their show and I should be compensated for that because it goes beyond the normal scope of the job. Now they are using you to help possibly sell tickets. If a commission contacts me and asks me to work a show for them I accept whatever fee the commission pays. Have I ever made $10,000 to work a show, No. I have made different amounts of money throughout my career. Last night I worked a show and made $280 for the night."
But, McCarthy's comeback wasn't the end of this discussion. Pav made a strong attempt to clarify his referee comments on BloodyElbow Radio:



Contradictions.

This attempt to clean up the mess did Mark Pavelich, and subsequently the MFC, no justice. Mark Pavelich clearly contradicts himself in several areas:
  • Pav points out that his father earned his living as an NHL ref. He says "that's how we ate." But aren't MMA refs trying to feed their families too? If so, $5,000 to $10,000 really isn't that much money for an event, and note that Big John pointed out that he never actually made $10k for an event.
  • In his original article he mentions how NHL and NFL officials don't set their own price, but everyone knows that professional sports leagues officials like those in the NBA, NFL, and NHL make very comfortable wages.
  • Mark Pavelich urges commissions to better regulate referee pay. He says, "It’s time for the commissions governing MMA to put a pay structure in place for all referees. They would be paid according to their experience, the level of competition they have overseen, and even feedback from notable fighters and insiders." But, anyone with common sense knows that this would not be a very objective way to determine someone's pay, at least not in the public sector -- athletic commissions are public entities. This being true, there's very little control they have over any additional pay that an promotion forks over to referees.
  • Although none of this was mentioned in Pavelich's or McCarthy's arguments, I can't help but to think that some of Pavelich's frustration had something to do with Big John's wife, Elaine's, formation of the Let's Get It On mma promotion. LGIO's one and only event was produced at the MFC's long-time home, the River Cree in Edmonton. I can only assume that maybe some of the drama that involved Dale Kliparchuk and Brian Beauchamp is somehow related to LGIO and at least indirectly included Big John on account of his wife's promotion. In his posting Pavelich wrote, "I will never pay a referee a ridiculous fee just because he’s been around for a while and has a trademark intro." Who else could he be talking about but Big John McCarthy, who's trademark "Let's get it on" is perhaps the most popular catch phrase in all of MMA? Yet, this is all pure speculation.

Mark Pavelich is the promoter of the Maximum Fighting Championships, and as such, it is his responsibility to promote the MFC in a manner that will not hinder its marketability. When a promoter makes generalized comments about issues and people that have such a profound impact on the sport, the promoter can easily set that organization a few steps back. Then, who suffers most from the regression? The fighters. Mark Pavelich has gold in his hands with the MFC, Canada's biggest mixed martial arts promotion, but right now the MFC's biggest obstacle is its promoter.

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