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Earlier this week, New Jersey attorney general Anne Milgram made the mistake of thinking she could fire the best Athletic Commission head in the United States and no one would notice. And while it’s taking a few days for this story to percolate into a full bodied shitstorm, it’s definitely on the way.

Larry Hazzard not only has a totally awesome name, but he also happens to be extremely competent at his job as head of the New Jersey State Athletic Commission. He was also in charge when New Jersey sanctioned MMA … the first state in the US to do it. It’s pretty rare to have someone heading an athletic commission who isn’t a complete retard, so people are kinda up in arms over this ‘because we felt like it’ firing.

This is a pretty entertaining story, so bear with me while I weave the tale for you. Let’s start with the actual firing, which was tastefully tacked onto a “Our Condolences for the death of your sister’s son” message:

Upon returning Thursday afternoon from the funeral for his 41-year-old nephew, Louis Arenas, who had died of a heart attack, Hazzard was met by Kim Ricketts, a senior administrator with the Divison of Law and Public Safety, which oversees the NJSACB.

“She offered her condolences on behalf of [New Jersey Attorney General] Anne Milgram for my loss,” said Hazzard, who was appointed by Gov. Thomas Kean in late 1985 and sworn in on Feb. 27, 1986. “Then she said, ‘We also would like to thank you for your many years of service.’ ”

With that, Hazzard was told to clear out his office. Security escorted him from the building.

So why exactly was Hazzard fired? “It was time for a change” said Anne Milgram. But you dig a bit and you find out something a bit more interesting:

In a letter sent to the governor on Oct. 23, a copy of which was obtained by The Star-Ledger, Hazzard’s attorney, James J. Binns, claimed his client was told “not to document the malfeasance and misfeasance” of a board employee even though it “jeopardized the welfare of contestants.” Among the concerns, Binns wrote, were the employee’s decisions to sanction mismatches in mixed martial arts contests, to okay a fighter who failed to test negative for HIV and to allow promoters to “shop” for medical approvals for their fighters.

Hazzard’s attorney also complained about a decision by the Attorney General’s Office to transfer “an individual with no experience” to the state Athletic Control Board by creating a new title that paid $90,000 a year.

Nothing like the government firing someone for writing up an overpaid, no experience AG lackey for almost letting a fighter with AIDS in the ring. This is the kind of shit you expect in Russia 10 years ago, not New Jersey.

This is definitely only the beginning of this story, but the one thing we know for sure right now is that boxing and MMA have lost a key figure in the most forward thinking and well run athletic commissions in the country. Lets just cross our fingers and hope Hazzard isn’t replaced by someone like Armando Garcia.

BJ Penn did an interview from his pineapple at the bottom of the sea, and he had some pretty mean things to say about Sean Sherk:

“Sean Sherk can say it’s a fake interim title, but his belt is no more real that Marion Jones’ gold medals,” Penn told a gathering of the UFC Fight Club before Friday’s weigh-in for UFC 78 at the Prudential Center.

Jones is the U.S. sprinter and multiple Olympic medallist who recently admitted to using performance enhancing drugs.

“Looking at him, he doesn’t look like he’s ever done steroids in his life,” Penn, his tongue firmly lodged in his cheek, said of the musclebound Sherk.

Penn also ripped Sherk for failing to finish fights, noting he needed five rounds to beat Hermes Franca at UFC 73.

“He made us sit through that whole thing with Hermes Franca,” said Penn.

I’m glad someone is getting on Sherk’s case for being the lamest champion ever. I’ll have to email BJ with a list of the insults we’ve developed here at Fightlinker to help him out in future interviews. There’s just so many reasons to hate on Sean.

Of course, this builds things up nicely for an epic showdown between Penn and Sherk … no word yet on if Dana White is bleeding from the ears at BJ’s “Sherk is a fucking juiced up cheater” media tour.

Friday marked the second time in Sean Salmon’s short career that he was thumped so hard people were afraid he was gonna die:

There was a scary moment coming out of last night’s Strikeforce show in San Jose, Calif. when Sean Salmon, fighting in place of Yuki Sasaki, was knocked out by Jorge Santiago during the promotion’s semifinal of a one-night middleweight tournament.

According to reports, Salmon suffered an apparent seizure and was taken out of the cage via stretcher and transported to a local hospital for treatment.

The only bit of silver lining in this whole situation is at least the guy who beat him won the whole tournament. There’s nothing worse than losing to a loser. That pretty much makes you a double loser.

On the loser note, Sean is REALLY REALLY bad at losing. His recent history of losing includes two dumb guillotine chokes and two crazy death strikes. I don’t want to jump the gun and start hoping the dude stops fighting, but I have a creepy feeling the Reaper is hanging around Sean whispering “Third time’s the charm!”

Here’s some advice, Cung: when it takes you three rounds to put away a no-name TUF washout, don’t follow up by challenging the World’s Most Dangerous Shamrock:

Then, after Cung Le’s third round TKO over Sammy Morgan, Shamrock came out and both he and Le addressed the live crowd. Le issued a challenge and Shamrock accepted.

While Le vs. Shamrock appears certain to happen in ’08, It’s uncertain as to when the match might take place. Shamrock could potentially face Santiago and has also expressed an interest in fighting Renzo Gracie in a rematch following their controversial EliteXC bout last February. There have also been rumors that Le could end up fighting Phil Baroni in either February or March, although the rumors have yet to be addressed by Strikeforce.

It really doesn’t matter if it’s gonna be Shamrock or Baroni … either way Cung Le is en route to a beating. I’m not saying that Le is a bad fighter, but how any fighter can go from fighting relative scrubs like Jason Von Flue and Sam Morgan to top tier fighters is beyond me. That would be like me going from dating Kirsten Dunst to Gisele Bündchen … and while I pulled that off, I just don’t think Cung can. Because he’s just not as awesome as me. Fucking A!

Because it’s the weekend and we’ve got better things to do than blab like bitches in a beauty salon about MMA, most of the posts here will be total fluff pieces with barely any connection to MMA whatsoever. Or not. Either way, you’ve been warned.

Here’s HDNet owner Mark Cuban getting down in preparation for his Dancing with the Stars appearances. He shows up at the 0:25 second mark, so make sure you’re not in the middle of swallowing anything that might choke you to death at that exact moment.

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