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Canadian Org Goes with Old Pride Ruleset

Loot2011-04-14 07:24:52 +0000 #1


If you think MMA has been sterilized by a ruleset that favors the American wrestler, there is a promoter who would like your dollars.

The Canada-based Colosseo Championship Fighting raised a stir at the start of 2010 when it received approval from the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission to use the ruleset of the Japan-based promotion DREAM, which allows knees to the head of a grounded opponent, among other differences with the Unified Rules used in most top MMA promotions.

Now, more than a year later, Colosseo is planning another event for July 23 that will employ mostly American talent.

Its promoter, Pasqualino Santoro, intends to up the action by using the ruleset of another Japanese promotion, the now-defunct PRIDE Fighting Championships. The soccer kicks and stomps used in PRIDE will stay at Santoro's event, dubbed "Colosseo Championship Fighting 6: Bushido."

One-time Strikeforce welterweight contender Marius Zaromskis is in negotiations to fight on the summer card, as are UFC vets Shane Nelson, James Irvin and Rob Emerson, Santoro told ( ).

Santoro, who said the event takes place somewhere outside Edmonton (he declined to name the hosting venue), calls his brand of MMA "international rules." A promoter of five years, he said he's filling a void in the sport's current landscape.

"I don't even watch a UFC event now because they're so boring," he said. "I'd rather watch a DREAM event than a UFC event. And with all the stuff going on in Japan right now, I don't see a big problem with honoring the Japanese people by going with PRIDE rules.

"I can do that because I live in a country where I'm allowed to do that."

Colosseo Championship Fighting 6 is sanctioned by the International Combative Sports Association, a commission not affiliated with the widely recognized Association of Boxing Commissions, which endorses the Unified Rules. A representative for the ICSA issued a statement to stating the association is aware of the controversial nature of the ruleset and fully backs Santoro.

"Though we might not be in any standing with the American boxing and wrestling commission who has no authority in Canada," wrote ICSA Executive Director Chris Townsend, "this is not a concern to us, as we are in no way going to be infringing on Mr. Santoro's right to produce a product that is safe for fighters, fans and his staff and our commission staff.

"To our knowledge of mixed martial arts, PRIDE Fighting Championship was sold to Zuffa, not shut down due to how dangerous the rules were supposedly."

Zuffa LLC, the UFC's parent company, purchased PRIDE to much fanfare in 2007. Although UFC officials announced plans to keep the organization operational, it eventually was shut down. Officials blamed resistance from Japanese television outlets, poor management and the overall financial "mess" of the operation.

Santoro, who was won over by the organization's rules set, said the insurance and safety requirements of the ICSA mirror those of established commissions, and he plans to double the required ambulance personnel as well as ringside doctors, as he did for this past year's show. Fighter safety is his chief concern.

But that's exactly the reason why Pat Reid, the ECSC's executive director who greenlighted the 2010 DREAM-rules show, said he wouldn't on principle sanction the July 23 PRIDE-rules event if approached.

"It's a bit of an oxymoron when you say fighter safety, but that's the point of Unified Rules that came into effect – to end the non-rule approach to MMA in the beginning," he said.

Nonetheless, Reid said he has no authority over shows taking place outside the ECSC's jurisdiction, nor does the ABC, to which the Edmonton commission belongs.

ABC President Tim Lueckenhoff said the event will be considered an unsanctioned event in its database, and fighters who participate on the card will receive a note on their professional record – maintained on the popular website – asking commission doctors to check more thoroughly for injuries in each fighter's next sanctioned bout. Reid went a step further by saying all fighters who participate will receive a 90-day suspension from the ECSC.

"If no one wants to support me, they don't have to," Santoro said. "I can go on my own and do my own thing. As long as the fighters get paid and they're safe, that's all that matters."

This past year, the ABC sent a letter to the ECSC strongly urging it not to go forward with the DREAM-rules event. The commission did anyway, and the event went off without a hitch, though Santoro suspects there was interference from neighboring commissions in how bouts were refereed.

The promoter expects the same to occur at Colosseo Championship Fighting 6 and said he's taken great pains to make sure no laws are broken at the event. While he admits that the PRIDE rules are "a little barbaric," he said they incite much-needed action in MMA. And action, he said, is what's sorely lacking in a sport that's over-regulated.

"Would you go to the ground if you're a jiu-jitsu guy knowing full well that you could get kicked in the head? What would you do? You'd stand up," Santoro said. "There were more knockouts in the first 28 PRIDEs than there were in the UFC."

Of the controversial elements of the ruleset, he said, "Close your eyes. What's barbaric about it? We don't have elbows. Which is good, right? Get rid of the elbows. They just cut fighters. Those guys are in there to fight. They're not in there to do ballet."

Lueckenhoff, however, said the Unified Rules are the gold standard for a reason.

"It's kind of like baseball and football," he said. "Regardless of where you go, they're the same. I think it just confuses the public. I think what our members are trying to do is grow the sport.

"(The PRIDE ruleset) has nothing to do with the sport. It's all about being greedy and trying to make more money."

As of now, Santoro plans to stream the event live on the web, though he has yet to iron out details on a streaming partner. Plans to televise the event have yet to materialize.

E51502011-04-14 07:36:24 +0000 #2
Wicked. Combine that with the new legalized pot laws : and I've got myself a pretty wicked evening. All I need now is a jet pack to fly to the event and I think I'm set for life.



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