Word broke over the weekend that Armando Garcia had tendered his resignation as executive director of the California State Athletic Commission and his resignation is scheduled to be accepted when the CSAC convenes on Nov. 17.
Many people responded to the news by hailing the development as good for MMA and ripping Garcia. However, most people neglected to say what was bad about Garcia and seemingly were just repeating someone else’s ideology rather than having formed their own opinion.
But there was a site that actually took the time to lay out the case of why Garcia’s departure is a good thing. Fightlinker.com listed a myriad of links outlining all of the controversies that Garcia had been involved in during his three-year tenure as CSAC’s executive director. The article was much more than a simple proclamation that Garcia was bad for the sport; it served as a detailed outline of just exactly why he is bad.
Even though I covered most of those controversies, I was still overwhelmed by the sheer volume of them. Being that I like to be organized, I decided to compile a top ten list of Garcia’s greatest misses in honor of his impending departure
10. An inability to give a straight answer to a direct question – As a member of the media, I found it difficult in trying to get CSAC’s side of many of the controversial stories it was involved in. Often times there was no one available at the office during business hours to take a call with many voice mails going unanswered. At other times, when CSAC did take a call, they declined to issue a timely comment (i.e. the decision not to license Nick Diaz this past March). But on the rare occasions when I was able to get Garcia on the phone when he was willing to talk, I would become frustrated with his refusal to provide a simple answer to a simple question. Garcia was a master of speaking in circles that at times I felt he was giving me vague answers for no other reason than his own personal amusement.
There was also a degree of arrogance on his part that was the most frustrating of all. I realize I’m just a writer and not very important in the grand scheme of the MMA industry. That being said, it bothered me that he didn’t even have enough respect for me as a human to at least not try and insult my intelligence. Garcia often acted as if he was the smartest guy in the room, even though his alleged decision to get romantically involved with a subordinate clearly dictates otherwise.
9. Banning a gym’s ability to hold “smokers” – Smokers are in-house tournaments held within an MMA gym in order to allow aspiring fighters a chance to build up fight experience in a highly-controlled environment. Fighters wear pads, round times are abbreviated, admission is free, and oftentimes there aren’t even judges since winning and losing is secondary to trying to apply technique in a live combat situation. Despite this time honored tradition having existed in MMA for many years, Garcia still saw fit to send a letter to the Tribull Mixed Martial Arts Center on Nov. 15, 2007, informing them that a planned smoker for Dec. 15, 2007 had been shut down. A smoker is somewhere between a sparring session and an amateur fight yet Garcia failed to recognize that fact due to his blinding ignorance regarding the culture of MMA.
8. Forcing Affliction to pay a bond twice the amount of fighter costs – In a May 9 article for SI.com in which plans for Affliction’s first-ever event were covered, Josh Gross revealed that Garcia and CSAC were mandating that promoters put up a bond that was twice the amount of fighter costs. A fighter should be guaranteed that he or she will receive their contracted purse in the event they are unable to fight as a result of promoter negligence. But twice as much? Where’s the logic in that?
7. Denying Gabe Ruediger a license – Following his disastrous stint on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter, Ruediger tried to put together the fractured pieces of an MMA career that had been shattered beyond recognition. He was given a lifeline and reportedly offered a chance to fight Katsuhiko Nagata during FEG’s “Dynamite USA!!” show in LA on June 2 in 2007. However, Ruediger couldn’t obtain a license and thus, couldn’t accept the fight. Word spread that Garcia denied Ruediger a license based on watching episodes of The Ultimate Fighter. After failing to speak out immediately after the news broke, Garcia would later go on the record and denied the reports and instead said that Ruediger was denied because the commission didn’t have sufficient time to review his medical information. To this day, there are many people I respect in the industry who don’t buy Garcia’s public answer and insist that in private, his response was much different.
The manner in which Garcia allegedly handled Ruediger’s situation raises the question as to why he moved to suspend the promotional licenses of EliteXC and King of the Cage last week. Did he do it because of legitimate reasons, or was the decision made based off what he read on the Internet? Unfortunately, we don’t have an answer to that question because in typical Garcia fashion, he couldn’t give a straight answer to the question when the suspension became public last week.
6. Suspending Josh Thomson six months for wearing a t-shirt that said “Frank Glamrock is my bitch” – During a Strikeforce event in San Jose in 2006, Josh Thomson was seen wearing a t-shirt that read “Frank Glamrock is my bitch.” In December of that year, CSAC announced that it was suspending Thomson on an indefinite basis.
Was the gesture disrespectful on the part of Thomson? Yes. Was it worth a fine? Possibly. But did the act justify a six-month suspension? No way. If Garcia wanted to discourage such behavior in the future, he should has fined Thomson a small amount and put him on probation. A suspension was over the line and came off as nothing more than a way for Garcia to beat his chest and abuse his authority.
5. Multiple postponements of Sean Sherk’s appeal hearing – In this specific instance, whether Sean Sherk is guilty of having used performance enhancing drugs isn’t the issue. The issue is how CSAC – with Armando Garcia presiding as its executive director – was postponed multiple times last year. According to reports, one postponement was due to the board of commissioners neglecting to read an information packet supplied by Sherk’s attorney, Howard Jacobs. Way to be on the ball.
4. Denying Nick Diaz a license prior to his March 29 bout vs. Jae Suk Lim – Nick Diaz had been scheduled to fight Jae Suk Lim on the undercard of EliteXC and Strikefroce’s co-promotion this past March 29 that featured Frank Shamrock taking on Cung Le. However, less than a week before the fight, Diaz was denied a license. When initial word broke, then-EliteXC Live Events President Gary Shaw and Diaz’s manager, Cesar Gracie, claimed Diaz was denied because he disclosed on his licensing form that he held a medical marijuana card. After refusing to comment on the story initially, Garcia eventually spoke out and said that Diaz was denied because he didn’t have his medicals in time – a claim that both he and Gracie have disputed.
Just because it’s legal for someone to smoke marijuana in California under certain provisions doesn’t mean it’s okay for a professional athlete to do so. However, at least test the guy and suspend him based on those grounds as opposed to denying him a license because of something he wrote.
3. Pulling Joe Riggs from a scheduled fight over a percocet – Riggs was tapped as a last-minute replacement to fight Luke Stewart during Strikeforce’s June event in San Jose after Shonie Carter had to pull out of the fight. However, Riggs wasn’t allowed to fight because he disclosed to the commission that he had taken a percocet three days prior to the fight. Riggs had been suffering from back problems and was taking the pain medicine under a doctor’s supervision. Despite the fact that there was a good chance that the medication would have been out of his system prior to the fight, Riggs was rewarded for his honesty by having his license pulled.
According to Riggs’ agent Ken Pavia, the same situation happened in 2006 prior to Riggs’ UFC fight vs. Diego Sanchez in San Diego. CSAC’s response at the time? Nothing. Garcia was also the executive director at that juncture, which showed a gross level of inconsistency.
2. The James Toney incident – Remember when Hermes Franca tested positive for steroids following his loss to Sherk in July of ’07? Franca didn’t lawyer up and didn’t make any excuses. He came clean and apologized for his mistake but his appeal of his one-year suspension and $2,500 was denied. Yet, during the same appeal hearing, boxer James Toney, a repeat steroid offender, waltzed in and according to eyewitness accounts, berated the commission. Despite failing to offer a legitimate reason why his suspension should be overturned, the commission still moved to trim it to six months while poor old Hermes had to rot away in solitude for a full 12 months.
1. Suspending Brian Ebersole and Shannon Ritch after Ebersole executed a cartwheel guard pass – During an MMA event in San Francisco in 2006 dubbed “Malice at the Palace,” Brian Ebersole executed a cartwheel in order to pass the guard of Shannon Ritch. The move, commonly known as a “cartwheel guard pass,” was deemed to be inappropriate by Garcia. Not realizing what he had seen and not having the presence of mind to ask questions, Garcia took it upon himself to claim that Ebersole and Ritch had been involved in a “work” (a choreographed match in which the integrity of competition had been breached). In response, he suspended both fighters in spite of the fact that Ebersole was merely using all of his ability in an attempt to win a fight.
Armando Garcia? He won’t be missed.