Most ‘crimes’ in MMA take the form of inept judging and flagrant rule breaking, but this past year many professional fighters were caught up in activities that landed them inside of a very different sort of cage. Get ready for a trip down memory lane in our most depressing “booking roundup” of the year. Here’s your run down of 2011’s biggest arrests, convictions, acquittals, and sentencings.
Ben Fodor (aka“Phoenix Jones”)
Elements of the Crime: You almost get the feeling that some of the fighters on this list go looking for trouble. In the case of Ben Fodor, that’s entirely accurate. The brother of Strikeforce fighter Caros Fodor, Ben has only had one professional fight, preferring instead to wage his battles on the mean streets of Seattle under the moniker “Phoenix Jones”. The would-be super hero tried to break up a street fight earlier this year by dosing the parties with pepper spray. In addition to enraging the “bad guys”, Fodor’s actions caught the attention of local authorities. It turns out that when you pepper spray a crowd you’re committing a crime, unless you have a written note from Commissioner Gordon.
The Charges: Assault
The Sentence: Though Fodor was summoned to court, no charges were filed.
Career Fallout: Well, a fighting career isn’t really his focus. His crime-fighting career, however, may have taken a hit. Jones’s ‘super-secret’ identity was revealed as a function of the court process. Now anyone he’s ever loved is at risk.
Elements of the Crime: When Ricco Rodriguez wants to party, Ricco Rodriguez wants to party. It’s caused him plenty of trouble in his life, from becoming the first UFC fighter suspended for coke abuse to a little incident where he dragged his not-quite-yet-dead girlfriend’s body behind the wheel of his wrecked car. After an appearance on “Celebrity Rehab”, things were looking up for the former champ, but then he short changed a cab driver after being dropped off a bar and slammed the cabbie to the ground when he called the authorities. Unfortunately “Suave” hadn’t calmed down by the time the cops arrived; as they tried to place him under arrest, he shoved one of them into the wall.
The Charges: Assault and resisting arrest
The Sentence: N/A
Career Fallout: None. In fact, after the incident he picked up his twelfth win and competed in Bellator where Seth Petruzelli put him into the sort of delirious state he’d normally lie, cheat, or steal for.
Hong Man Choi
Elements of the Crime: Compared to most of the drunken women that fell prey to MMA fighters this year, Hong Man Choi’s victim got off pretty easy. The 20 year old refused to pay what she considered to be an inflated tab after having drinks at the K1 & MMA fighter’s pub in Gwangjin, Korea. Choi was said to have punched the woman after she cursed at him during their brief argument. The 7’2” giant admitted to pushing the woman aside after she had struck him, but no more.
The Charges: Assault, Scaring small children
The Sentence: Both parties were able to reach a private settlement in the matter. Choi did not face any legal action.
Career Fallout: If fighting Jose Canseco doesn’t kill your career, nothing can, bruh.
Elements of the Crime: Attention whore Junie Browning came correct with a dramatic, last minute entry to our rap-sheet wrap-up. The aptly-named “Lunatik” took a break from training in Phuket, Thailand to have a few drinks with friends at a local watering hole. Trouble must have a passport, because it promptly tracked Junie down and a massive bar, street, and hospital brawl ensued. What exactly prompted the melee and who was the aggressor is a matter of whose story you believe. It’s your classic case of “drunken-insane-MMA-washout-said/drunken-bar-owner-potential-plane-bomber-said. What we do know is that Browning went into hiding, either from authorities or the Thai mafia. More details poured in, but they hardly shed light on the matter.
The Charges: Multiple assault charges
The Sentence: In the midst of a massive manhunt, Junie turned himself in to authorities, who opted to work with both parties to find a resolution to the squab rather than press criminal charges. Thus far those efforts have proven fruitless.
Career Fallout: Junie only fought once in 2011, picking up his fourth straight loss on a regional card in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While this recent legal dust-up won’t endear him to any big league promoters, neither will his fighting.