(“Nemesis MMA” was the worst thing to happen to Keith Jardine since … well, whatever the last thing that happened to Keith Jardine was. PicProps: EstherLin/SharkFights)
If you were paying attention to our report on Tuesday – or following Ben Askren on Twitter, which we can only assume you absolutely are – then you had an inkling that last weekend’s independent “Nemesis MMA” show in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic was something of a disaster. Truth is, “disaster” doesn’t even begin to cover it. From accusations that Keith Jardine was greased-up in the main event to reports that paychecks started bouncing as soon as the athletes returned to the First World, it was clear from the get-go this thing was gonna be a mess. Brother, we had no idea.
MMA Weekly gets the scoop straight from Paul Buentello and Eliot Marshall, who were both “winners” at the event. Now, we know what you’re thinking: Shady independent MMA promoters stocking a show in the DR with semi-recognizable talent and promising a “four-day, all-inclusive, world-class experience in paradise?” What could possibly go wrong, right? Well, tons of shit actually, when you don’t have an athletic commission (or anyone at all) looking after health and safety issues. Get a good look Libertarians, this is the world you want to live in …
Buentello and Marshall say they showed up at the event to discover no medical officials, no time keeper and just one referee (Mario Yamasaki, God bless him), trying to supervise a locker room full of Dominicans who were rubbing themselves down with Icy Hot before the fights even started. So that was a good sign. Buentello says the closest thing resembling a doctor at the show was some dude walking around with “a toolbox full of band-aids,” and Marshall reports that after seeing what happened when some poor sucker got knocked out in one of the early fights, he decided to switch up his game plan a little bit.
“There was just some dude standing over him putting water on his head till he woke up,” Marshall says. “My plan was not to stand up too much after I saw that there was no doctor. I was like, you know what, let’s go to the ground.”
Good move for Marshall, who submitted opponent Chris McNally – a middleweight he had never seen before, because the weigh ins were as poorly organized as the actual fight show – in the first round. That was especially lucky because, after Nemesis promoters had to basically pull a guy out of the audience to serve as the timekeeper, the “five minute rounds” weren’t exactly conforming to the unified rules.
“The timekeeper used his cell phone … ,” Buentello says. “I don’t know if he was a security guard or what, he could have been the janitor. He had a cell phone with a timer on it and he was texting too, while he was watching the time for the fights because the (rounds) were averaging about 5:15, 4:30, 4-minute rounds … (in) my fight (one round was) was like 10 seconds short and then (one round was) 10 seconds over.”
See, that’s just good fun. For some reason, according to Marshall fighters were still expecting to get paid “nearly what the UFC did for fights” the next morning, even after witnessing the insane dry-humping that was the show itself. Stop us if this starts to sound fishy to you: Nemesis promoters told fighters to meet them in a local coffee shop at 8 a.m. the following morning to receive their paychecks … then the promtoers didn’t show up. Hmmm, curious.
Buentello and a few others tracked the money man down in his hotel room – imagine him hastily stuffing clothes into a suitcase – and made the guy sit down and write the checks out right then and there. Because, you know, with mounting suspicion that you’re not going to get paid at all, why ask for cash?
“I was like ‘Are you sure this (check) is going to clear?’ and he was like ‘We’re all good, the money’s in there, you’re great.’ I was like ‘I hope to God you’re right,’ ” Buentello says. “I’m like towering over him, looking down on him, kind of putting some pressure on him … you know, giving him that crazy Mexican look. So, I leave and try to enjoy the day.”
Yeah, fat chance. Soon after, Buentello got a call from one of his corner men: “You want the bad news or the really bad news?” the guy asks. “The bad news is, y’all ain’t getting paid. The really bad news is there’s only $4,000 in that account.”
No, we don’t know how Paul Buentello’s corner man knew how much money Nemesis promoters had in their bank account and at this point in the story, we’re not really interested in the details. Buentello stormed back up to the promoter’s hotel room – crazy Mexican look in full effect, we’re guessing – but instead of ripping the dude a new one, he actually ended up defending the guy from a gang of Puerto Ricans who looked like they were preparing to literally kill him.
“It was like a scene from ‘Scarface,’” Buentello says. “I was ready to grab (the promoter) by the throat and just start dropping elbows, but, these (Puerto Rican) guys were like 4-foot-5, they come pushing me out of the way (saying) ‘We’re going to kill you right now!’ and before you know it, we had to protect the promoter cause these little guys wanted to kill him. Drag him out to the beach and slice him up. The thing is it was only over a couple thousand dollars, but these guys were pissed.”
Turns out, the Puerto Ricans were mad because the promoter paid them to haul a cage from their gym to the DR for the show and the day after it was over the owners of the venue were holding the cage for ransom, because the promoter hadn’t paid them, either. I mean, Jeez-us Fucking Christ. Would now be a good time to point out that this show only drew a few hundred fans?
Long story made just a touch shorter: Everybody flew home, nobody got paid. Buentello broke his hand beating up Kerry Schall and might need surgery. He’ll be paying for that out of his own pocket, naturally. Maybe the saddest part of all is that poor Marshall just wants the win to count on his official record so he has a chance to get back into the UFC …
“I need for this fight to officially go on my record,” Marshall says. “It would be nice to at least make these fights official for us. Even though we didn’t get paid, and there was all this debacle, 24 guys got in there and they fought their hearts out.”