In the new podcast, Deep Waters, FOX Sports’ own Elias Cepeda dives into some of the more controversial and fascinating topics floating around the fight world, and elsewhere. Joining him each week are co-hosts Kirik Jenness, and Sam Sheridan.
Kirik Jenness is the Association of Boxing Commissions’ official record keeper for the sport of MMA, the owner and founder The UnderGround, as well as an MMA coach and fighter.
Sam Sheridan is the best-selling author of A Fighter’s Heart and a screenwriter who has also traveled the world training with and fighting for some of the best teams on the globe.
Many fans and insiders are quick to jump on the backs of athletic commissions like Nevada’s — Kirik Jenness is not one of them.
Still, the mixed martial art’s official record keeper was profoundly disappointed in Nevada’s recent five-year suspension handed down on UFC fighter Nick Diaz. "I’m part of the regulation process. I’m the record keeper for the sport, and I’m very, very proud of that. I’ve defended commissions hundreds, probably thousands of times in different circumstances. This is one of the very first times I was embarrassed by a commission," Jenness, said on his Deep Waters podcast, co-hosted by yours truly and author Sam Sheridan.
"It was unjust. It’s just not justifiable any way you look at it. They have new guidelines for marijuana that are stricter than the ones they had before, and the third marijuana failure is three years. [For Nick Diaz] they made it five years pretty much arbitrarily because they didn’t like Nick Diaz’s attitude."
Earlier this year, Nick Diaz was drug-tested three times in just a few hours on the night he fought Anderson Silva. Diaz passed two drug tests conducted by WADA-accredited labs. A third test was conducted by a less-reputable lab, with proper protocol not followed, and it produced a suddenly and extraordinarily high-level of marijuana metabolite result for Diaz.
Jenness believes that the commission had it out for Diaz on inappropriately personal grounds. "A regulator can’t let things get personal. If a fighter lets things get personal, it’s OK — they’re a fighter," he continued.
"Regulators are supposed to be the grownups, and that’s unfortunately not what happened here."
Jenness believes that, like Nevada’s recent lifetime ban of Wanderlei Silva, which was subsequently struck down by an actual court, the commission’s suspension of Diaz will not stand in full. "I’m absolutely [sure] that that five years is not going to stand, one way or another," he insisted.
"I think there’s going to be pressure on the governor in Nevada to try and do this. I would imagine the UFC is going to put some pressure on them. I don’t think Nick Diaz is going to be suspended for five years. It’s not right, and I’m just embarrassed by it."
Sheridan agreed, saying, "[The suspension] was clearly vindictive. It was clearly, ‘we don’t like this guy’s attitude.’"
According to the best-selling author and fighter, Diaz’s reputation is what got him in hot water with the commission. "It had very little to do with marijuana and more to do with Nick Diaz being a punk," he claimed.
"Which, listen, Nick Diaz is a rough character and he’s a surly guy."
Sheridan went on to say that the Nevada commission also finds itself out of step with the rest of American society when it comes to how it views marijuana generally. After all, they have dealt with repeated banned performance-enhancing-drug users much less harshly than they did with the likes of Diaz and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the boxer who was once fined nearly a million dollars for a positive marijuana test.
"The country has changed so much. You know, I’m sort of friends with [referee] Josh Rosenthal and he got sent away for I think 13 months for something that’s not going to be illegal in two years. It’s a little hard for these penalties to sit well," Sheridan continued.
"You’re not supposed to get your feelings hurt. You’re the commissioner. They love Chael Sonnen. Chael Sonnen is a friend of the commission and he certainly lied on the stand … I think the arbitrary nature is the problem."