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What’s To Become Of Kalib Starnes?

(Combat Lifestyle chronicles the stuff Kalib Starnes‘s nightmares are made of)

Kalib Starnes did his best to turn a fight with Nate Quarry into a track meet at UFC 83 on Saturday night. Normally, that might make him nothing more than the subject of a few days worth of open mockery on the internet, but in this case it’s bound to become more than that, and it should.

The question now seems to be not so much if Starnes will be released from the UFC, but when. At the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White did little to hide his displeasure:

“If I was Kalib Starnes and I was fighting in my home country, I’d rather get knocked out than run around in circles the whole fight. I think Kalib Starnes is going to wake up tomorrow and look back on this fight and wish he’d fought a different fight.”

Translation: he’s going to wake up tomorrow unemployed, or at least on his way there.

This wouldn’t be the first time the UFC has cut a guy for failing to put on a show. The same thing happened to Ivan Salaverry in 2005 after a highly, uh, strategic performance against Nate Marquardt. The difference is that even after he was cut, Salaverry seemed contrite and apologetic for his poor performance. Starnes, on the other hand, reacted to criticism with slightly less grace when he shouted obscenities and suggested that a member of Quarry’s corner preferred the company of men.

That exclamation point on the night makes it easier to feel good about seeing Starnes fired from the UFC, but there’s more to this than just what happened in the Octagon on Saturday. For Starnes, this seems to be part of a pattern.

Don’t forget that his path to the UFC included a stint on The Ultimate Fighter, where he was eliminated when he quit in a closely contested bout with eventual winner Kendall Grove, complaining of broken ribs.

In Starnes’ bout with Alan Belcher at UFC 77 he lost via a cut, but the reaction from his corner told a bigger story. They initially seemed to think that Starnes had said something to the ringside doctor to induce the stoppage. While the cut stoppage was legitimate, Starnes ended up in a shouting match with his corner over it. That makes you wonder what they had seen up to that point that would make them jump to that assumption.

The UFC has cut plenty of guys over the years. Guys who weren’t skilled enough, guys who didn’t train hard enough, even some guys who seemed talented but just didn’t have any luck. They’ve cut guys like Matt Lindland and, more recently, Jake O’Brien, because their fighting styles weren’t as exciting as the UFC wanted them to be.

But whatever you say about guys like O’Brien, you can never put them in a class with Starnes. O’Brien takes people down and keeps them there. Starnes spent fifteen minutes on Saturday night trying to avoid a fight.

That’s the unforgivable sin for a fighter. That’s how Starnes ended up losing the bout 30-24 on one judge’s scorecard (a new UFC record). That’s why he’ll be on the unemployment line soon enough, and why few credible organizations will be interested in signing him.

Through it all, Quarry managed to emerge a hero. His antics at the end of the fight – mocking Starnes’s sprint around the cage, covering his face and flailing his fist – was how he saved the bout from being completely forgettable.

Said Quarry after the fight: “I figured if I did this (flailing gesture) he’d have to hit me. Maybe he’d come in swinging and we could get something started.”

In other words, Quarry attempted to shame Starnes into a fight. And what did Starnes do? He continued to back away, almost as if congratulating himself for being too smart to fall into Quarry’s clever trap.

Starnes came into the bout as the fan favorite, if for no other reason than that he happened to be a Canadian. He left as the villain, because no accident of birth is good enough reason to support a fighter who refuses to fight.

In the days to come we’ll likely hear some explanation from Starnes, perhaps referencing an injury in training or in the fight – one of those old stand-by’s. But unless he can come up with a convincing excuse, Starnes is going to be looking for a new career soon. He just doesn’t seem to be cut out for this one.


Cagepotato Comments

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Bill C.- April 25, 2008 at 2:21 am
"Rocky IV sucked!"

bigd- April 25, 2008 at 2:10 am
ufc sucks any way. Dana white wants to make it look like a civilized sport. The fact of the matter is if you are a awesome standup fighter and know how to sprawl the ufc is for you. These rules that the ufc has in place benefit these types of fighter. If your fighting style is ground fighting with little stand up knowledge you don't really have a chance to do well. Royce gracie lost to matt hughes under these stupid rules. Here is a challenge for you Dana white How bout you make just one round. With no time limits. Allow kneeing on the ground, elbowing but once the round starts you let what happens happen. Lets see a real fight. Not this bull crap that obviously fans of the ufc have come to accept as the norm.
bigd- April 25, 2008 at 1:52 am
It was obvious Kalib did not want to fight. I use to train with kalib 5 years ago. You people do not understand kalib. If Kalib is not completely happy with something he will not put his all into it. The Fact of the matter is that kalib can be a top 185 lb. fighter. Kalib has been in contract with the ufc for a period of time. In that time frame he has not made any money to support himself how about his daughter. The fact of the matter is if you aint a top fighter you get paid shit. This coupled with his injury via belcher i could see it not worth his effort to continuing fighting for the ufc. chris leben who lost to kalib in ufc71 got paid $25000 at ufc82 sounds like something wrong to me. Kalib beat him a long time ago. pay money get more cheap ass dana white
KTFO- April 23, 2008 at 5:19 am
I don't have health insurance at my place of employment so to show my boss up and to make a point I punched myself in the cock really hard, cried like a girl, then put the video on youtube. Take that you wanker!!! Go Starnes!!
matt- April 21, 2008 at 10:08 pm
starnes punked out, no doubt about it. there is no defense for that. but if his contract was for 3 fights per year at $10,000 per fight, how does dana white expect these guys to survive? training and nutrition are expensive. dana should think about that when he's out cruising his ferrari. hell, rich franklin only makes $28,000 per fight, even when he was the champion.
brice- April 21, 2008 at 12:57 am
it was a horrible way to make a statement for the simple fact that everyone involved in UFC has to sign a CONTRACT. read the f#ckin contract and if you dont like the terms, dont sign the f#ckin contract. its that simple. if he didnt like the deal he got and his medical expenses werent paid for, its his fault. no one forced him to sign his name to the terms of the TUF show or to any fight thereafter. he did so of his own accord and therefore has no premise for an argument.

so, not only is he a coward, he is an uneducated idiot.
Yea Well But- April 20, 2008 at 10:55 pm
"the best part of Quarry’s response was the Rocky IV reference…classic.'

Rocky IV sucked!

But not as much as that sorry excuse for a fighter people refer to as "Kalib Starnes".
Rocky- April 20, 2008 at 10:42 pm
the best part of Quarry's response was the Rocky IV reference...classic.
contactadvertise- April 20, 2008 at 8:41 pm
Whether a radio interview with Starnes, in which he claimed he was protesting, actually happened is doubtful because there is no source details. However, if Starnes wanted to protest, here is how he could have done it effectively.

He could have created a website detailing his case against the UFC. Saturday night, he should have went in and knocked Quarry out in spectacular fashion which would have guaranteed him a postfight, in the ring, live interview. At this point,he could have put on a shirt ala Tito Ortiz, condemned the UFC and directed everyone to his website. People would still be talking about this instead of making fun of Starnes, as is happening right now.

Of course, this would have required Starnes to engage in a fight.
Pugs- April 20, 2008 at 7:50 pm
There is no evidence whatsoever that Starnes ever said that it was a protest. There are no citations for the supposed radio interview. The radio station that it was supposedly aired on hasn't even been named. Until there's some sort of citation or evidence, it didn't happen as far as I'm concerned.
Aryan- April 20, 2008 at 7:49 pm
Hey if it was really a protest and he wanted to hurt UFC than he did. And to all you that say it was the worst way to do it, what would've been the best way for him to hurt the UFC than? shoot Dana?
The Truth- April 20, 2008 at 7:38 pm
Your knowledge of the Canadian healthcare system is as retarded as Starnes "gameplan" for the fight, TMAC.

Favorite part of the fight: afterwards when the director and cameraman were playing with the audience by alternating shots of Kaleb and Nate on the big screen to go from arena wide boos to cheers over and over.
cw- April 20, 2008 at 7:34 pm
Canadians get free health care in the case of a serious injury - but stuff like long term care and physio is rarely covered under government insurance. Those decisions are made province to province. I grew up in Ontario (where physio is not covered) and lived in Montreal, Quebec as a student for three years. As an anglo they made it a living nightmare to use the free healthcare to which I was entitled when I got sick or hurt. The French have covert ways of making Anglos pay for old and perceived grievances.

No argument though against Starnes wussing out. It was pathetic. And I paid $45 to watch that crap.
TMAC- April 20, 2008 at 7:25 pm
People I completely agree, if Starnes wanted to make a point he choose the worst possible way to express his point of view. Even if he had a cure for cancer, nobody was listening due to how he expressed his opinion.

I actually lived in Canada for 2 years and the health care system isn't exactly "free", it is less expensive, but to get similar coverage as one gets in the US there are expenses involved. Its also full of administrative pit falls and is essentially useless when requiring medical serivces outside of Canada. Its very realistic that Starnes incurred significant out of pocket expenses due to his injuries and has a legit beef with the UFC over those costs. I don't know for sure, but it is very possible.

Again I'm simply saying that dude might have a valid argument, but that doesn't excuse his actions. Its just like me not getting a raise at work, so I decide to work a 5 hour day to make up for the lack of salary bump. It was childish, ill-conceived, and deserving of all the mockery he is receiving for his actions.

All that said, if there is an issue of UFC fighters not having medical expenses explicitly covered in their contracts (or at least explicitly stated so fighters know they are on their own) that issue does need to be rectified. Look at the NFL and its problems with retired players.

As I say, Starnes could have a legit issue, but his choice of protest form did nothing to advance the rights of fighters on this issue.
seaswell- April 20, 2008 at 7:06 pm
even if he did do it as a protest, that's a pretty lame idea. there are better ways to go about things like that. just like there are better ways to fight than constantly running away from your opponent.
Jeff- April 20, 2008 at 6:54 pm
What he said^^^

Brings up a good point about canadians getting free healthcare.

I believe that Starnes is simply a big pussy, he knew this was his last fight and knew he wasn't going to win, so he just tryed to get through the fight without any booboos. There are ways to go 3 rounds without getting hurt, he should learn from George.
Pugs- April 20, 2008 at 6:38 pm
I call BS on the radio interview. Cite a source. The only vector I can find for that story is a Sherdog forum in which the person who said that they heard the radio interview has not been able to even name the radio station that he heard it on.

There's also the fact that Kalib did try to mount an offense a couple of times. If this truly were a protest, he wouldn't have done that much.

Let's also remember that Kalib is Canadian and gets free health care so this isn't even an issue for him to be protesting.
Bdizzle- April 20, 2008 at 6:16 pm
It is true these guys need to get paid more. It hurts to get punched in the face several times. I do not think they will ever get to Boxing, NFL, NBA, MLB Salaries because fighters come and go quick.

Would the only way to really protest is for the bell to ring and both fighters sit down? Maybe play a little thumb war...
cw- April 20, 2008 at 6:12 pm
I just assumed they had medical insurance guaranteed through the promotion. Seems kinda shady if they don't. All full contact sports I can think of have mandatory health and life insurance premiums involved...
TMAC- April 20, 2008 at 6:08 pm
I just read a summary of a radio interview Starnes did today. He won't be released from his contract as so many have speculated, because Saturday was the last fight on his contract. He must have known he would not be resigned and decided to make a statement to Dana and the UFC management for not covering his medical expenses for injuries suffered both during TUF 3 and after the Belcher fight.

His beef is not a simple one and I have no knowledge of the details in fighters contacts as it pertains to "on-job injuries", however given the nature of the "job" I would expect such a liability to be covered one way or the other. Even if Starnes does have a legit legal arguement, making your statement by embarassing yourself isn't the best way to embarass your employer.

I give Kalib credit for wanting to make public the issue of medical expenses, but he couldn't have choosen a worse way to express his displeasure. I wish Kalib well in his new life as an insurance agent, tax assesser, etc.
starnes is a girl- April 20, 2008 at 6:07 pm
If starnes was protesting the pay ufc fighters get, well atleast he wont worry about that anymore. Now he can be a puss in the unemployment line.
Anonymous- April 20, 2008 at 5:54 pm
The UFC pay's fighters at the lower level than EliteXC does. Would you take $7,000 or would you take $1? lol
DDT- April 20, 2008 at 5:24 pm
Starnes claims his performance was a protest to low fighter pay in the UFC.
Bdizzle- April 20, 2008 at 5:09 pm
He was waiting for his opening to strike. It just didn't come in the 15 Minutes of Fame.
NipGrip- April 20, 2008 at 5:00 pm
Agree with the article and have to say despite Starnes and his inability to mix it up in a fight, Quarry made that fight one of the most entertaining ones I've seen.