If People Watch, Bellator MMA Will Find a Way to Book it
Bellator MMA announced that Kimbo Slice is scheduled to face James Thompson for the second time on July 16, 2016 in London’s O2 Area. At first glance, this announcement is not extraordinarily notable. But, upon further analysis, this news demonstrates Bellator’s emphasis of profit over regulation of Performance-Enhancing Drugs (PEDs).
Kimbo Slice, who was born Kevin Ferguson, is a big name in the world of MMA. Big names draw ratings, which ultimately translates to big profit. Slice’s previous fights have drawn very high ratings. But, at what cost? Prior to a fight on February 1, 2016 in Houston, Kimbo Slice tested positive for an anabolic steroid known as nandrolone. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations (TDLR) immediately placed Slice on a 90-day suspension while the matter is being resolved. According to MMA Fighting, the typical maximum penalty in Texas for a failed drug test is a 90-day suspension and $5,000 fine. It’s unlikely the TDLR would license Slice for a period of a year after the positive test, but after 90 days the suspension would not extend to the other states.
Bellator MMA booked Kimbo Slice for the July 16 fight in London despite his pending case. London is clearly outside the TDLR’s jurisdiction. Even if the TDLR revokes his license for the maximum period, Slice would still be eligible to fight in London.
So, what are Bellator MMA’s priorities? Is it to regulate a clean product or is it to make as much money as possible? Is the organization really protecting its fighters by allowing them to shuffle venue to venue to avoid penalties for putting harmful substances in their bodies?
Bellator MMA’s President Scott Coker defended the decision saying, “He was put on a 90-day suspension outside of Texas, which will be ending sometime in May, Coker said. “So he’ll be cleared and ready to fight by July.” He continued, “We go by what the athletic commission says. We don’t want to get into the rules and regulations and testing procedures because every state has its own regulations and punishments. So it’s a little tricky. If there was a national federation or national association with rules and regulations across the board that every state abided by, that’d be one thing, but for us, every state is different.”