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Pandemonium blog: Promoter Craig Zimmerman on dealing with fighter injuries

Promoter Craig Zimmerman with the Pandemonium Title. Photo courtesy of MEZSports.com

I want to take this time to introduce myself and my promotion to the ProMMAnow.com community. My name is Craig Zimmerman and I promote the MEZ Sports Pandemonium Fight Series in Southern California.

The Pandemonium Fight Series is the premier fight series in Southern California. We have a hybrid show with both professional boxing and MMA but the show is swayed more heavily towards MMA.

We have brought in some great fighters and all of our prior champions have gone on to bigger things; Lorenz Larkin (Strikeforce), Chris Saunders (Bellator and The Ultimate Fighter), Adam Lynn (MFC), and Roberto Vargas (Bellator Featherweight Tournament).

We are currently having a Flyweight Tournament and expect the winners of our last show in August to meet in December to be our first flyweight champion and honestly, I don’t expect the winner to be around very long as I am confident a major organization will pick him up.

I appreciate being able to provide an insight as to what goes on from the promoter’s perspective to MMA fans. I am not only the promoter but I am also the matchmaker for the MMA fights so I wear many hats at once within the promotion. Hopefully, I will be able to give readers a good feel for what goes on from this perspective.

The biggest issue that most people ask me about is the recent cancellation of UFC 151 and all of the injuries that the UFC has seen for the main events of its upcoming shows. I can tell you from personal experience injuries happen all the time and while a lot of fighters will fight even if they are hurt, injuries are part of the business.

We would never ask a fighter to fight hurt, but at the club level, the hardest part we face is having a fighter or his manager tell you when the fighter gets hurt. All too often it happens at the last minute and you are scrambling for a replacement, like the UFC did when Dan Henderson told that them that he was hurt.

As a promoter you expect that there will be last minute injuries, fighter withdrawals due to weight issues or medical issues, and the need to find last minute replacements. I have lived these issues with every show I have promoted and even had the problem of the main event of a show falling out the day of the fight, after the weigh-in, because a fighter supposedly got hurt while driving around late at night.

Don’t get me started on the logic of driving around after the weigh-in and before the fight for no apparent reason. I found out about the injury at 12 p.m. (noon) the day of the fight. The doors were opening at 6:30 p.m. and the first fight of the night was set for 7:30 p.m.

The entire MMA show was being streamed live on Sherdog and all of a sudden, my main event is falling apart. Over about a 75 minute period, I received phone calls and texts from various people connected to the fighter, giving me different stories but when I got the call asking if someone else can step into the injured fighter’s place, I knew this fight wasn’t going to happen.

Since we fight a fully CSAC sanctioned show, replacing a fighter the day of the fight isn’t allowed. Even if it were allowed, out of fairness to the non-injured opponent , I would not make a last minute opponent change like that. I had two choices, cancel the show or go on without the planned main event.

The show was a success despite the last minute cancellation. I can also assure you that no experienced promoter gets too excited about the fight card they announce 6 weeks out from a club fight as the likelihood that people will get hurt before then is great.

The point is all promoters deal with fighter injuries and fallout and have to balance between what is best for the promotion, the fans and fighters. It is never an easy decision, but for promoters who never want to sacrifice putting on the best possible fights, sometimes tough and unpopular decisions need to be made.

Next week… what goes on in-between each show from the promoter’s point of view.

The “Pandemonium blog” is a weekly blog series written by Craig Zimmerman, promoter for Southern California’s MEZ Sports Pandemonium Fight Series. Check out the Pandemonium Fight Series website at www.mezsports.com and follow Craig on Twitter (@MEZSports) and on Facebook.

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