MMA is well on its way towards becoming one of the most-watched sports in the world, but we all know that catching up to games like football and basketball is well beyond its reach.
Despite this, it doesn’t exempt it from the list of one of the most profitable sports industries available in the 21st century, but very few realize that the profitability itself can lead to serious problems when it comes to fairness.
We all know that some amateur games aren’t designed for generating the fighters much profit, they’re much rather for career advancement, therefore seeing fixed matches there is a very rare occurrence.
A sold game in the early stages of a fighter’s career will directly influence his or her future, therefore most try to avoid it.
However, when we get to the mid-tier, there are dozens of games that people look at with a sceptical eye. Nobody is directly accusing these games to be fixed though, all that fans are saying that they look sketchy.
This article will be dedicated to exactly those types of games that look sketchy on the surface but may have their own reasons hidden behind what we see on the screen. But before we start listing them, let’s look at some reasons why fighters may want to fix their game.
Reasons for fixing games
There are two reasons for fixing games that most fans have identified. One of them is of course connected to money, and the other one is connected to “self-esteem” and belief.
The latter reason is quite common in other sports as well, but in those cases, it’s still much fairer. Most football and basketball teams are used to playing against rookies or low-class teams before tournaments, so they can absolutely stomp them and start the season on a high note, but with MMA it’s much different.
When it comes to the former reason for money, there are comments from anonymous sources. One of such sources comes from CasinoCrunch.com which mentioned that the betting amount on one player is sometimes so high that casino owners tend to entice coaches to convince their players to deliberately lose the games. They offer a significant chunk in return, but basically, guarantee their own income.
Naturally, this is a terrible practice that should always be monitored by a commission of sorts, which is indeed the case. But most of this control depends on whistleblowers, who are usually coaches or the players themselves, but the money is sometimes is so big, that it’s hard to fight the temptation.
Now that we’ve gone through the most common reasons for fixing games, let’s take a look at few that are being accused of it.
Dan Severn vs Shannon Ritch
The match between Dan Severn and Shannon Ritch happened in Honolulu in 2005 which is documented to be a complete Work.
One thing that needs to be outlined in this match is that Severn was much heavier than Ritch, but during the game, it seemed like he was delivering much lighter hits while receiving heavier ones. Throughout the game Severn was not even trying to land hits, he was mostly focusing on tackling Ritch somehow, which culminated in him taking a leg hit in the pelvis area, which seemingly almost knocked him off his feet.
Now the sketchiness of the game culminates in that hit, as it seemed extremely light for a heavy fighter like Severn to lose balance on, but the following high kick from Ritch really took the cake as it sent Severn rolling to the ground in a clearly overdramatic method.
Many are saying that Severn was fast approaching retirement age and wanted to grab a quick buck while he still could out of his waning career.
Naturally, nothing has been proven about the match it’s just simple speculation.
Nobuhiko Takada vs Kyle Sturgeon
Before his match against Sturgeon, Nobuhiko Takada was a famous Japanese wrestler that had only recently joined the MMA scene.
Needless to say, Takada represented the hope of most Japanese fans for them to truly enter the sport, but seeing him easily defeated by Hixon Gracie at the time disheartened almost everybody. People were even seen crying in some interviews after the match.
Soon after the loss against Gracie, Takada started training once again for an upcoming match against a fairly unknown rookie by the name of Kyle Sturgeon.
Takada defeated Sturgeon in what seemed like an effortless match as he finished it with a very simple heel hook.
Many are saying that this match against Sturgeon was the “self-esteem” case for Takada as he was already promised a rematch with Gracie to clear his name.
Sturgeon was like the rookie he’d definitely defeat in preparation of the main event, the rematch against Gracie, which he actually lost, again.
If you’re looking for more evidence for speculation, consider the fact that this match against Takada was the one and only fight for Sturgeon in professional MMA.
Alexander Emelianenko vs Eddy Bengtsson
The match between Emelianenko and Bengtsson was considered to be sketchy even before it occurred. The clear difference between these two fighters was already suggesting that something fishy was going to happen.
The reason is quite simple. Emelianenko had a 6 win streak with clear knockouts, while Bengtsson was competing in the Summer Olympics for wrestling.
In the very beginning of the match, nothing too weird could be seen as Bengtsson managed to defend a clear takedown attempt from Emelianenko, but what happened next was what birthed the controversy.
With the only punch of the whole match, Emelianenko sent Bengtsson to the ground, seemingly knocking him out, but later slow-mo footage showed that the bunch barely even connected. In fact, it simply grazed Bengtsson’s blocking stance, but the heavier fighter went down anyway.
Some fans thought that Bengtsson was offered some cash to throw the game in order for Emelianenko to maintain the winning streak. But others are saying that Bengtsson was simply afraid of actually getting knocked out, so he took the easy way out.
Regardless of what anybody may feel though, all of the games listed above are just speculations. They could have been legitimate, or they could have been fixed. There are links to the fights that you can watch and draw you own conclusions, but once you see them, it will be clear to you why particularly these games are considered sketchy.