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I owe you guys an update

I know most people aren’t interested in my personal drama, and if that’s the case, don’t bother to click below and read further.

But for those looking for an update about my wife, it’s after the jump and I don’t have a happy ending to offer anyone.

The amount of support expressed this past weekend for 5 Oz. and my wife by many of the readers of this site was really touching. I am so used to hearing a lot of negative feedback and frequent complaints that it was nice to know there are actually people who enjoy reading this site.

Based on the support expressed by everyone for my wife, I feel like it’s only fair to offer an update about what happened with her planned MMA debut this weekend. Unfortunately, I really don’t have any good news to relay to everyone.

While my wife is still undefeated in MMA, it’s not because she won all of her tournament fights, it’s because she wasn’t even given a real opportunity to fight an MMA bout by the WKA this weekend.

My wife and I arrived in Virginia on Thursday night so we could start cutting weight early in the morning. My wife is 5’9” and probably should be competing at 155 or 150 lbs. The problem is, it is hard enough for a female to get fights in MMA and to try and fight regularly above 145 really isn’t realistic. My wife woke up Friday at 152 lbs. Not a big deal, considering she cut 10 pounds last year.

To help her through the process, I started working out with her to lose some of the initial pounds and then we headed over to the sauna and I got in with her. I had e-mailed Brian Crenshaw, the head of the WKA, earlier that morning, because the rules about weigh-ins were unclear. I wanted to know if there was any sort of weight allowance. There was no sense in having my wife cut to 145 lbs. if she only needs to get down to 146 lbs. He e-mailed back rather quickly and stated that there was a one pound allowance for undergarments. Great. I decided to e-mail back just to confirm there was a fight for her at 145 lbs. and that they didn’t re-do the weight classes last minute like they did last year. For whatever reason, he didn’t respond back right away.

During a break from the sauna, I checked my e-mails and my heart sunk when I read that there were no 145 lbs. fighters for her. I was furious because the WKA closed their registrations on June 10, meaning they would have a complete list of all of their competitors three days before weigh-ins, making it possible to notify a fighter if there wasn’t a fight for them. That was a big reason why my wife wanted to make her debut at the WKA’s in the first place since they’d have the ability to tell her if they didn’t have anyone in her weight class before she went through the trouble of cutting weight.

Crenshaw informed me that there were no other 145 lbs. fighters registered for MMA but that there were two 135 lbs. females registered and three 145 lbs. females registered for Muay Thai, the same tournament my wife won the year prior. Well, 135 lbs. wasn’t an option because there was no way my wife was going to make that weight. She thought about doing Muay Thai but her camp wasn’t comfortable with her entering a Muay Thai tournament at the last minute when all the work she’s been doing the last three months has been with the mindset of competing in MMA.

I told Crenshaw that neither option was feasible for us. Last year they didn’t have enough females for MMA so they simply did a 155 lbs. and under division. I asked if they could do a 150 lbs. division and under this year. After a lot of back and forth, all that we were told was that MAYBE they’d allow the winner of the 135 lbs. fight to fight my wife at 145 lbs. There were no guarantees so nobody felt it was in my wife’s best interest to continue to cut weight if there was a good chance there was no fight for her. So we stopped at 148 lbs.

I questioned Mr. Crenshaw via e-mail as to why we weren’t informed there was no one for Andria to fight in the weight class. After applying pressure to him, he stated that a 145 lbs. female fighter cancelled the night prior due to injury. Sorry, I don’t buy this for two reasons. First, if this was truly the case, why didn’t Mr. Crenshaw state this immediately when he responded to inform me that there was no were no other females registered at 145 lbs. in MMA? He only told me this after I started questioning him. Second, while possible, I still find it highly unlikely a female fighter would cancel the night before a tournament. Yes, amateur fighters get nervous all the time and pull out of fights last minute. I’ve seen situations where fighters have arrived at the venue, took one look at their opponent, and then walked out. But it’s a different story with female fighters. It’s so hard for them to get a fight that they simply don’t back out unless they are legitimately injured. But why would a fighter claim injury the night before, considering most fighters taper off their training? Even if there really was a female fighter that had registered only to pullout last minute, why did we have to contact the WKA to learn about this and not vice versa? I realize a lot is involved in running a tournament and there isn’t always a lot of time to communicate every minor detail to someone, but if you truly care about the fighters, why would you just let something like this fall through the cracks?

If the WKA feels I am wrong for questioning their honesty, they can send me proof of the last-minute cancellation and I will issue a public apology.

We headed over to weigh-ins. The idea was just to weigh-in officially and hopefully try and work something out. The thing was, weigh-ins were supposed to start at three. However, they were delayed because according to several fighters, the scale that they needed hadn’t arrived yet. So you had a crowded hotel hallway full of hungry and dehydrated fighters in a line that wasn’t moving. There were no visible WKA officials to speak with and there was no one from the WKA providing updates. I then got a text from Mr. Crenshaw that if the winner of the 135 lbs. division consented, that there was a POSSIBILITY they would let her compete against Andria for the 145 lbs. title.

Great, so Andria is going to fight someone that had already been through one fight and that would probably be giving up 15 pounds? My wife entered the WKAs because she wanted to prove herself in a legitimate competition. I’m not sure why any trainer would allow a fighter to move up a weight class after having already fought to fight someone that hadn’t herself already been through a fight. But even if the fighter and her trainer had consented, assuming my wife had won, would there have been any satisfaction in such a victory? If they had made the division 150 lbs. and under, at least everyone would have had to fight each other due to the round robin format.

With no light at the end of the tunnel, nobody affiliated with my wife’s camp could think of a reason for her to continue to starve and dehydate herself. Weigh-ins hadn’t started and we had no ETA when they would. Plus, we had no legitimate reason to believe she would be given a fight. We decided to cut our losses and leave and I texted Crenshaw to let him know the situation and how disappointed we were.

As were started our drive back the next day, we got a call from one of Andria’s friends who said that her name was on the official schedule to fight the winner of the 135 lbs. division. I guess the WKA just wanted to add insult to injury? I had informed Crenshaw the day prior that we wouldn’t be competing and received NO RESPONSE. He took the liberty of adding her to the schedule anyway. Either there was a mis-communication somewhere down the line or they simply did it so they don’t have to offer us a refund because they can claim they offered her a fight at 145 lbs. Again, it was another thing done by the WKA after the fact. If it was decided for sure that there would be a fight for my wife, why weren’t we contacted the night prior? Crenshaw had my e-mail, cell phone number, and text message.

I can’t speak for other fighters and their experiences with the WKA this weekend and I can’t tell any fighters out there what they should do in the future. But I can speak for my wife and I and tell you that we were appalled by the lack of organization and professionalism that we experienced from the WKA this weekend. And she has no plans to ever support one of their tournaments in the future.

When you deal with amateur MMA, nothing is for certain when it comes to lining up a fight. They can’t give my wife an opponent if there isn’t one. However, they could have been on the ball and up front that there wasn’t anyone for her to fight. If they had told us after the registrations closed on the 10th, we could have saved hundreds of dollars on gas, hotel, and the cost to board our dogs. I also wouldn’t have had to miss work and my wife could have been there to pick up our son from his last day of school. Based on the way my wife was treated and seeing how fighters were made to wait longer than they needed to at weigh-ins, I have to wonder whether the WKA truly cares about fighters or if they are only involved to make a profit off their blood, sweat, and tears.

This was definitely a huge setback. However, my wife has a dream and she intends to reach it. She plans to go back into the gym on Tuesday and plans are already in motion for her to make her MMA debut now in July at a venue that is much closer to home. If something becomes official, I will let everyone know.

24 COMMENTS
  • darkmetal says:

    Sam, you ran into the unprofessionalism that seems to be widespread in some sectors of MMA. It must have been maddening for your wife to train so hard and be unable to compete.

    However, consider this as a bump in the road. It might not seem like it now, but over time things will likely improve, and you will gain a certain level of acceptance. When one falls down, even if it is the other guys fault, it’s time to start over. Tell your wife to keep the pressure on and eventually something will move. Every event cannot be misrun and unprofessional; even if it does seem that most are at times.

    Take care, and keep going–all great efforts generally pay off in the end when you live in the USA.

  • darkmetal says:

    Oh, one last question I forgot to ask:

    Was there a 155 lb fighter your wife could have fought?

    Thanks…

  • Taylor Kresge says:

    what a terrible organization. you should post crenshaw’s email so we can spam him. (j/k)

  • Sam Caplan says:

    DM:

    It was very hard on her emotionally. But she’s tough and she’s not going to let this get in the way of her ultimate goal. Fights falling through is a way of life for many amateur fighters and is a constant for female fighters. There are so many people who don’t understand what a female fighter must endure in order to be involved with the sport. Male fighters obviously make a ton of sacrifices, but it’s way worse for female fighters.

    That’s a good question about the 155 lbs. weight class. According to Crenshaw, there was nobody registered for MMA above 135 lbs. besides my wife. I know for a fact my wife would have fought someone at 155 if they had been available. Hell, she was so committed to fighting MMA this weekend she probably would have fought someone that weighed 170 lbs.

  • Patrick says:

    I feel both of your pains, first 4 times I tried to get a fight it got cancelled on me either right before, or right after weigh ins. It sucks, but it’s almost the norm with a lot of these orgs.

    My condolences.

  • jesse says:

    Hang tough Andria, you’ll get your chance to smash someone! Sorry to hear about the BS. You should ask the WKA for gas money cause Philly to VA isn’t cheap these days.

  • Brandon Sanchez says:

    Very unfortunate. I hope everything pans out with the more local card in July. Good luck!

  • matt says:

    Sam, I’m sorry to hear this. One of the guys in my gym was supposed to make his amature Thai debut after dieting and cutting weight for 3 months. Day of the weigh-ins/fight his opponent came in 10 lbs overweight and refused to cut. If the kid cut 5 lbs it would have been sanctioned as an exhibition. I’ve never seen someone so disappointed and it honestly left a sour taste in my mouth. Good luck to your wife in the future.

  • Ross says:

    to bad Sam, or more appropriatley Im sorry to hear about it Mrs. Caplan, best of luck with your future fights.

  • Patrick says:

    “You should ask the WKA for gas money cause Philly to VA isn’t cheap these days.”

    They wouldn’t pay, even if you were related to them.

    Hopefully amateur events will one day shape up (sooner rather than later please) and we’ll get better sanctioning bodies for the lower tiers of mma and combat sports.

  • Ken says:

    Sam: 5 Ounce is great, and I enjoy reading it often. You are one of the best journalists in MMA.

    Try not to let the negative commentary get you down. It’s good those guys are reading your stuff, and getting excited about it. If no one was responding, that might be a problem. Look at Dana White, he’s constantly ragged on, but very successful.

  • jesse says:

    #10 Patrick:

    I was joking bro. Damn this internet and it’s sarcasm filter.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    MMA has adopted unified rules for pro. The same type of universal standard needs to be adopted for amateur MMA. MMA will not be able to grow the way it needs to be if up and coming fighters keep getting screwed over and discouraged. Sometimes I wonder how many potential top-level fighters walked away simply because they got tired of all the crap?

  • Patrick says:

    #12, I was kidding back man, I knew you were joking. Thought the “related to them” comment was an indicator I was kidding. No hard feelings.

    Also Sam, if it’s any kind of consolation, not all Virginia MMA events turn out poorly… just most of them.

  • Rich S. says:

    Well, Sam, i wish your wife the best of luck in all of her future fights and I hope she makes the big leagues one day. She won’t have to worry about any of this happening again, then..

  • Joel says:

    This is exactly why I’ve avoided participating in any WKA events even if it’s convenient since I live in Virginia. I drive to central NC to compete these days.

  • Brent says:

    If I had realized it was a WKA event, I would have warned you that it would be a complete, unprofessional f*ck-up.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Yeah, I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails and a few calls from people telling me how the WKA is simply a poorly run organization.

  • Nick says:

    Sam, this ia a common occurance in amatuer MMA, as you now know all to well. This happened to me in my first attempt to fight, and I was so discouraged I have not tried again since. I put to much time and effort in, and I cannot invest so much of myself again without a payoff. It simply takes to much of a toll on my life to train for mma and not get a fight. When it happened to me, I broke the registration table in the weigh ins. Very immature and I was disappointed in myself, but it got my point across. They tried to get me to fight a fighter two weight classes above me, with an 8-1 amatuer record. As I am supremely confident, I am not stupid. Giving up 20+ pounds to a 9 fight veteran was not my idea of my first fight. This apparently is common in most of these promotions. I took it as a sign from od that I should not be fighting and decided to try writing. I hope your wife sticks with it and is successful in all her endeavors. P.S. since we are from the same area, stay away from ANY Tiger Shoman fighters. They lie about their records and will almost always come in overweight. Just what I have heard through the grapevine.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Nick, if you have potential as a fighter, it sickens me to hear you’re walking away because of that experience.

    Since you’re in the area, if you’re ever looking to get back into the game, e-mail me at SCaplan8 at comcast dot net. I’d like to see you get back involved with training and help make sure you get fights.

  • Danny says:

    Anyone know if UFC is considering a female version of The Ultimate Fighter? I think that would be interesting and give some much needed attention to some of the talented females.

  • Brent says:

    “Anyone know if UFC is considering a female version of The Ultimate Fighter?”

    Dana White has been quoted a couple times as saying that he doesn’t like female MMA and that he’ll never have it in the UFC.

  • MoreThanUFC says:

    Sorry to hear this story, Sam, but it is kinda normal in amatuers. I’m 7-1 in the last two years, but due to my age ( 37 ), no one’s managers will let their kids fight me. They have nothing to gain by beating me, and loss everything if they get beat. At least that’s what I’ve been told.

    All in all, 8 times I’ve gotten in a ring, 14 times I’ve shown up, only to find I have no opponent. Sometimes my opponent was there, but they moved him into a fight where another guys opponent dropped out.

    Tell your wife not to give up. It’s all part of the battle to get somewhere in this sport. Crap like this makes me want sanctioning bodies.

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