It seemed like a great deal: a match in the Dominican Republic
resort town of Punta Cana, with paid airfare and accommodations, on
an event featuring multiple UFC veterans streamed worldwide via
That is what the fighters on Florida-based Nemesis Fight
Promotions’ “MMA Global Invasion” card expected. What they appeared
to have gotten was a surreal, disorganized evening of fights and
paychecks which were not worth the paper they were written on.
Veteran light heavyweight Keith
Jardine was originally scheduled to fight Francisco
“Kiko” France in the show’s main event on Nov. 13 at the
Barcelo Bavaro Hotel and Casino Convention Center. When Hurricane
Tomas threatened to strike the island in early November, that date
was pushed back to Dec. 10, and Jardine left his home in
Albuquerque, N.M., to fulfill a previously booked engagement
filming a movie in Canada.
“I was out in a real, little small town in Canada for a month
before the fight, just running on a treadmill to train,” Jardine
told Sherdog.com. “I was taking a harbor plane once a week to fly
over to [Zugec Ultimate Martial Arts] on [Vancouver] Island to
train over there, so I was getting one good session a week in.”
When the new date rolled around, “The Dean of Mean” departed for
the Dominican. Even before he arrived, Jardine sensed all was not
well. Despite being one of the headliners, he had done no
interviews or press for the show. When he arrived, the promoters
took him to the venue so he could see the event posters on display;
there were none.
“They just acted like it was no big deal,” Jardine said.
When fight night came, Jardine and the show’s other competitors
quickly began to understand just how dire the situation was.
Backstage, there were issues with hand wraps, and fighters were
told they would have to share gloves, as there were not enough
pairs to go around. The disorganization escalated as the opening
fight got under way in front of a tiny crowd, which various
estimates placed between 20 and 100.
“I was sitting on the stage ... watching the first fight happen,
just to see how it would go. First of all, there’s nobody in the
backstage to tell the fighters to come out,” said Jardine. “So, the
fight goes on. The round goes. The round seems to go forever. It
seems like it went too long. I guess there was some scrambling by
the cage -- they didn’t have a bell for the fights. So, after that,
they found a whistle and just started using whistles to determine
the end of the round.”
Determining the end of the round was an issue unto itself, as
multiple sources told Sherdog.com the scheduled five-minute rounds
were independently timed at upwards of six minutes. Flyweight
prospect John Dodson,
one of several Greg Jackson-trained fighters on the card, took a
decision over John Moraga
in a match that went the distance -- and then some.
“My fight was actually like 17, 18 minutes long,” said Dodson. “It
was unorganized. They didn’t have anything well put together.”
“There was a lot of things going on,” said Travis Marx,
another Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts product, who dropped a
unanimous decision to Jose
Although he was docked a point for an illegal kick in the third
period, Marx asserts there was no way he lost the fight.
“It’s one thing to say, ‘I got screwed by the judges.’ I hate
saying that. I’m not one of those kind of guys. It was one of the
craziest experiences for me, because I’ve been in a couple of
decisions that were close. This fight, I felt like I dominated from
start to finish,” said Marx. “His own trainer came to me and told
me, ‘I’m so sorry. He’s my boy. I train him, and you won that
As all this went on, Jardine sat backstage, waiting for his fight
against France and ruminating on his situation.
“I had a conversation with myself as I’m sitting there. I’m like,
‘Well, I don’t really know if I’m gonna get paid here or not. This
thing’s a mess.’ I didn’t have gloves to fight in. I don’t even
know if there’s a doctor for the fight, this and that,” Jardine
said. “I mean, it’s about the love of fighting. It’s not about the
business of the sport. At that point, I’m sure everybody had the
same thought, and they went out and fought their hearts out. And
that’s a beautiful thing.”
Jardine did decide to fight, earning a unanimous decision over
France after three hard-fought -- and accurately-timed -- rounds of
what he describes as a “classic striker versus grappler” matchup.
For Jardine, it was a positive end to a largely negative night, but
the good feelings did not last for long.
A number of fighters told Sherdog.com they flew back home with
checks in hand but soon found out the bank account on which they
were drawn did not have sufficient funds to cover the payments.
“They said there was gonna be money in the account,” said Isaac
Vallie-Flagg, another Jackson’s MMA fighter, who scored a
come-from-behind knockout of Alejandro
Villalobos in the third round of their bout. “I went to cash
the check [the next] morning, and there wasn’t any more. They
wouldn’t tell me why, but I couldn’t get out money.”
The promotion’s Web site listed the fights as airing “live on
pay-per-view,” but the Internet broadcast was scheduled for Dec.
13, three days after the event. The fights were never shown, and
the site now lists the broadcast as “rescheduled” with the “date to
be announced soon.”
Jardine is currently exploring legal avenues of recourse, including
the possibility of obtaining the rights to the event video, in
hopes of broadcasting the show and securing some form of
compensation for the fighters involved. In spite of the tumult
before, during and after the event, Jardine says that what took
place inside the cage that night was truly special.
“It was complete chaos, but everybody there -- Paul
Marshall, these are UFC-caliber, world-class fighters -- they
were just great businessmen. They were just fighters. They did
their job that they do and put on just an incredible show,” Jardine
said. “That’s the beauty of it, is that every single fighter, every
single group went out there and put on a world-class fight. I’m not
exaggerating that. Wait ’til you see these fights.”
Repeated requests for comments from Nemesis Fight Promotions have
Tristen Critchfield contributed to this report.