IFC Vs. Severn & Levi Vs. Fulton
On Saturday June 30th, 2001 Dan Severn faced off against Travis Fulton in World Extreme Cage Fighting's inaugural event at The Palace Casino in Lemoore, CA. When the match was over, it went to the judges, who awarded the unanimous decision to Severn. After the match, controversy reared its ugly head, with allegations of a worked match, personal vendettas and more began to be tossed around. Here are statements from the IFC, Becky Levi & Dan Severn and Travis Fulton on the matter...
Press release from the IFC:|
IFC Suspends Fighters
The IFC has suspended Travis Fulton and Dan Severn from fighting in any IFC events until further notice. Also, Ms. Becki [sp] Levi who functions as manager and second to Dan Severn has been suspended from further representation of fighters until further notice. The suspensions are effective immediately.
The suspensions are the result of an apparent violation of IFC rules about predetermining the outcome of a fight. During the fight between Severn and Fulton on June 30th, it became apparent to referee Mason White that Travis Fulton was holding back from punching Dan Severn when Fulton had Severn in a full mount. Upon questioning following the fight, Fulton disclosed that prior to the fight Becki [sp] Levi approached him on behalf of Dan Severn. At that meeting, Levi told Fulton that they don't want this fight unless they get paid more money, Fulton claims that Levi said to go easy and guarantee Severn the victory or they would not fight. Fulton accepted.
Scott Adams, President of World Extreme Cagefighting, LLC, the promoters of the event, expressed his concern, "I spent hundreds of hours to ensure that I would have highly competitive matches. This is very important to me, for I intend to promote many future cards. The rules were given to and explained to each and every competitor. I condemn any type of prearranged outcome matches. I also condemn any alteration of rules at a sanctioned event without the pre-match approval of the sanctioning body. This is an insult to the fans and an embarrassment to each and every one of us in this great sport. I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I am. I would never cheapen my love of the martial arts or dishonor my Bushido by ever knowingly staging a dishonest bout."
IFC Commissioner Paul Smith [pictured at right] states, " We are withholding our final determination until Mr. Severn and Ms. Levi have the opportunity to respond. However, I will say that the IFC's position on fixing fights is a strong one. As a young sport we cannot afford to have the sort of activity that appeared to have occurred here take place. We have fought too long and too hard to have Mixed Martial Arts recognized as a legitimate sport. This type of activity taints all of us."
Under IFC guidelines the fight could be called a "no contest" and the participants fined and suspended for up to a year for a first offense.
The IFC will make the video of the event, available to all concerned parties including State Athletic Commissions, with a complete copy of all statements from the investigation.
Becky Levi & Dan Severn Respond:|
Information regarding IFC Press Release:
"Our reputations in the sport as fighters, trainers, and promoters speaks for itself. Both of us [are] pioneers in the sport and have done nothing but promote this sport in a positive light. I do think it is a sad time for the sport when someone has to stoop to these lengths in a personal vendetta."
The IFC has a problem with our fight promotion, The Danger Zone. We represent competition. The IFC also owes Dan money from a previous seminar Dan did with Joe Lewis at one of their IFC events, not to mention a demonstration Dan did at yet another IFC show that Dan was not compensated for.
- We were contacted sometime at the end of the week of June 4-8. To fight in the promoter's words "a tomato can."
- Dan was to replace Liddell on the card as main event.
- The flights were $1200 per person to the show. We offer to use frequent flyer miles for $1000 added to purse. Instead of the show paying $2400 for those tickets.
- A friend of ours is a radio voice in Fresno area and he did a bunch of extra promotion for the show to get more bodies in the seats (at no additional cost to the promotion)
- Dan was scheduled for 4 MMA fights in a row starting June 23 and continuing trough July 15. This fight was the second fight in the series.
- We had to change our weekend schedule; we had driven to the Pocono Mountains for a seminar and for Dan to be inducted into the World Karate Hall of Fame. On the day of the fight show, we flew out of Newark, NJ to San Francisco. We got in at 3 pm and had a 4-hour drive to the Palace Casino in LeMoore, CA.
- Upon phoning one of the promoters, Reed Harris, we find out that they are having problems with Dan's opponent and may change it to Travis Fulton.
We don't have much choice at this point.
- We get to the event and Reed Harris pays me (Becky Levi) Dan's fee for the fight. We go to the dressing area. Dan wants me to find out if they changed his opponent. I found a lineup sheet and it says that Dan is fighting Travis in main event.
- I then go to check out where warm up area etc was located. I see Travis and Bruce Nelson. Travis proceeds to tell me about why they changed the opponent. Supposedly he (Dan's original opponent) was drinking and smoking at the casino and they took him off the card. I asked him if he was getting paid more to fight Dan and he said yes. I also asked him what the time on the rounds were, since we did not get any rules or regulations.
- I then go to find Reed since the $ negotiated was to fight "a tomato can" and not a veteran like Travis. I am told that they are over budget and have no more money to pay out. He proceeds to tell me if he knew we would want more money he would never [have] changed the opponent. At this point we could have walked. We already had our pay in hand. But no, we are there to help these guys out and the sport. So we fight. No questions asked.
- I then went to warm up area and chatted with a few other fighters and the Tap Out crew.
- I went back to let Dan know that it was two five-minute rounds.
- The show is quick; most fights are done in under 2 minutes. I also see that Dan's former opponent is on the card fighting another fighter. I tell Dan to be ready since Gan McGee is up and he is fighting a much smaller opponent. It lasts 38 seconds. I guess the hours of matchmaking were spent on that fight.
- Paul Smith comes into our dressing room and asks Dan how he feels about fighting Travis. Dan says he did not want to fight Travis due to the travel and shortness of preparation time. Why is Paul Smith coming into our dressing room in the first place? He is not the promoter of the show.
- Dan signed a contract to fight Travis in Sept for Iowa Challenge. So Dan really did not want to fight this fight.
- As Dan is entering the cage I find out that there are no knees to the head on the ground. So, I am yelling that into the cage. The (IFC) ref then goes over the rules. He then tells Dan about no elbows or knees to the head.
- Dan utilizes knees and elbow smashes in all his fights. He uses these to set up the top wristlock.
- We have been up for 20 hours at this point. Dan is very sluggish. He tries to utilize an elbow smash and gets warned by the ref. Now he can't knee or elbow smash. What good [did it do] for me to keep yelling that at him during the fight?
- Dan gets in one bad position during the fight. He gets mounted by Travis. But, what they fail to tell you is that Dan did not let Travis create any space and he was [too] high from the start. As Travis tried to make a move, Dan bridged and turned him.
- Dan dominated the whole fight. I will say that he has two more fights to go in this series. He is not going to do anything stupid to hurt himself. He is the main event in two other upcoming shows.
- He stayed for over one hour afterward and signed autographs for the fans.
- We were invited to the casino to lunch with the sponsors of the show (by the event coordinator of the casino).
- We were to have our room taken care of for both Saturday and Sunday. We were informed by the motel that the promoter did not pay for our rooms, that the casino paid for our Saturday night accommodations. If we wanted to stay Sunday, we would have had to pay for the room ourselves. We decided to drive back to San Francisco (4 hours) since we had an early flight the next morning, having to pay the expenses ourselves.
- Sometime in the early evening on Sunday, Scott Adams calls me and accuses us of doing a predetermined match with Travis. Basically, Scott Adams says that Travis Fulton told Paul Smith that the fight was a work.
- I told him about the elbow warning etc. Dan hardly ever hits anyone with a closed fist. I also told him that Dan is not out to hurt anyone. He has always been that way.
- I ask him if he spoke with Travis and he said yes. Said that Travis denies it. He said he did not believe him.
- This was a World Extreme Cage Fighting show to our knowledge and not an IFC show. We were told by Scott Adams over the phone that the event was sanctioned by the IFC. To our knowledge who is the IFC to sanction any fight promotion? Especially when the show was on sovereign land and did not need to be sanctioned at all.
The Shooting Star Casino and 4 Bears Casino are two casinos that the IFC formerly had shows at. The Danger Zone took over at both those locations due to problems with the IFC. The former marketing director at the Shooting Star Casino, Mr. Bernie Fox moved back to 4 Bears Casino as co-general manager. You may contact him to find out why the IFC is no longer running fight shows there. His number is 800-294-5454.
The IFC is no longer running shows at the Tropicana in Atlantic City. The Tropicana is looking for other promotions to come in. The IFC told the event coordinator at the Tropicana that The Danger Zone had gotten Mr. Bernie Fox fired because our show was so bad at the Shooting Star Casino. On the contrary, Mr. Bernie Fox was promoted to co-general manager at 4 Bears Casino.
In conclusion, we (Becky Levi and Dan Severn of The Danger Zone fight company) reserve the right to add additional information as it arises. We will not put it in print unless it is a fact, and not something fabricated to hurt or slander individual reputations or the fight industry as a whole.
We can be reached at The Danger Zone 517-278-4908 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Becky Levi and Dan Severn
Travis Fulton Responds:|
Tell us your side of this Travis...
Well, from what I understand, I won't be suspended indefinitely.
I don't know why Paul Smith is doing all the representation because it was another promoter whose show it was. It was that promoter who said we had to do this fight. Severn arrived at the event at six o'clock--I was told the entire time, the week before the fight and everything, that knees to the face or to the head on the ground or on your feet were going to be illegal--so [Dan and Becky] missed the rules meeting. Just that day, about 5 hours prior to the fight...they asked me the night before if I'd be interested in fighting Dan. And I said, "I don't know, I guess." Me and Dan had pretty easy opponents. They turned around and finally set it in stone, like a few hours before the fight was even going to happen. The whole time out there, my opponent kept changing constantly, but I guess you really can't blame the promoter for that. Dan got there and he accepted it and me and Becky spoke about it because we are fighting in September and she wanted to know why are they doing this. Why are they changing the opponent? All of a sudden, the day of the event, they decided that the guy that Dan was supposed to fight wasn't his caliber and I outweighed my guy by 40 lbs. So, they figured me and Dan would be a better fight and if we don't fight, we are tough out of luck or shit out of luck. So she [Becky] asked me about the fight, and I was just like you can't knee to the head...and I still had a sore hand. So we agreed, we'd give them a show but we would fight for real. We pretty much did. The reasons people believe that it was such a big work was because Severn didn't knee me in the head and to both of our knowledge we weren't allowed to do that, but in the end you were able to. Nobody even thought it was a work of any sort and we really went at it for real, grappling wise.
Was there an understanding before the fight?
There was an understanding because I only had one hand and Dan had gotten to the fight at six o'clock that night.
Nobody really asked anyone because I didn't speak with Dan, I spoke with Becky. We both kind of agreed what they [promoters] were doing was wrong. There was no money change for him and there was a $500 money change for me [from the promoters].
What was the agreement?
I wouldn't punch him and they really didn't have to worry about it because I only had the one hand [due to injury]. I didn't care if he would hit me.
It was limited striking. We agreed not to strike each other, basically. There was no agreement on who would win. He won the decision fair and square, but also with the fact that we couldn't punch and also with the fact that you take the knees out because we both believed that you couldn't knee because that is what [promoter] Scott Adams told me all week you couldn't do.
There was never any understanding where you couldn't submit each other at any point, you could. I was pretty much, with their complete rule changes and everything, we just thought that it was pretty wrong what they [the promoters] did.
What about the aftermath?
Nobody thought anything was wrong. It was a good fight I thought, so did everyone else. Everyone thought it was good. Scott Adams came up to me afterwards and said, "Good job." The only person who thought something was going on was Paul Smith. I had mentioned to Paul about the understanding [no punching] and I guess that made him mad or something. He said, "What are you doing a work here? We are trying to get this legalized!" You couldn't tell it was a work, a work of any sort until I mentioned that.
I mentioned that we agreed not to punch, because he asked why when I had the chance, when I got the mount on him I didn't punch him? Well, for one, I only have one hand and on the other fact we agreed not to.
The next morning I was to fly home...I talked to Scott Adams that night. He was fine. Didn't even think anything was up. He told me he was going to give me a ride to the airport which is about 4 hours from there to catch my flight on time. He called me up after what Paul Smith had told him and said, "Why did you do a work on my show?" I said, "I didn't do a work on your show. If you believed it was a work, why didn't you say anything last night," and he was like, "I've had about 10 people come up to me and say it was fake and you told them it was." I didn't tell anybody it was other than Paul and so he was like, "I'll tell you what I believe, you did a work and you're not telling me." He bought my plane ticket where it was a non-changeable, non-transferable ticket non-refundable. I had to be on that flight or I wasn't going home and he told me, " I am not going to get you to the airport, you are screwed because you did a fake fight on my show and won't tell me about it, you're stuck." He's like find your own ride to the airport, and this is going on at about six in the morning and I had to be at the airport by noon and the airport was four hours away. So, his dad was at the hotel and I told Scott Adams dad about it and his dad was nice enough to drive me an hour to Fresno California and bought me a plane ticket out of his own pocket that would get me to San Francisco in enough time to catch my flight.