Fighter says MMA exposé had ‘agenda’

George Sullivan was one of the focuses of a
three-day long NJ.com special report on
MMA’s potential health risks
. The Newark (N.J.)
Star-Ledger website chronicled the local fighter’s tough
weight cut and apparent signs of brain trauma following sparring
sessions and a fight.

Now, Sullivan is saying many of the facts were twisted “to
paint the MMA community in a negative light.”

“In my opinion, there was a clear agenda in the article to
sensationalize the physical training that goes into the sport of
MMA and demonize those who choose to participate in the
sport,” Sullivan said in a letter from his lawyer, Robert
Hinckley, to New Jersey Athletic Control Board Counsel Nick Lembo
that was obtained by FOX Sports. “To further that agenda, I
was misquoted on several occasions and my actions were
mischaracterized in order to tell the story
[author Matthew] Stanmyre wanted to
tell.”

Star-Ledger editor Kevin Whitmer said in a statement to FOX
Sports that it stands by its reporting, but will review “notes,
photographs and hours of raw video to determine if there is
anything that warrants a correction.”

The article says Sullivan lost 13 pounds in 12 hours to make
weight for an August fight against Jesus Martinez under the
Cage Fury Fighting
Championship
banner. Not accurate, says Sullivan.

Sullivan writes in the letter that he lost 25 pounds over the
course of two months and “the last six pounds the night
before the fight.”

“This statement related to my weight cut was incorrect and
I believe was used to further Mr. Stanmyre’s conclusion that
the sport of MMA is unsafe,” Sullivan wrote.

Another part of the series chronicles
a sparring session in which Sullivan’s head
goes through drywall
at former UFC fighter Kurt
Pellegrino’s gym in Belmar, N.J. The day after that, the
article says Sullivan was found “wandering through Target
with deodorant in his hands.”

“I don’t even remember it,” Sullivan is quoted as saying by
Stanmyre. “I was brain dead.”

Sullivan claims in the letter that the entire situation was
misconstrued. It was a teammate’s shoulder that went through
the wall and when he said it was his head, it was merely a joke.
And the anecdote about the department store and the deodorant?
Sullivan said he didn’t have a head injury – he was
just tired.

“I was exhausted from training and was searching for
personal items for my fiancée and simply did not know where
they were located in the store,” Sullivan wrote.

The fighter continues that one of the stories’ depiction
of a “head injury” he suffered in the fight with
Martinez was “reckless” and the post-fight examination
was far more in-depth than portrayed. The article claimed that
Sullivan forgot his room number at the hotel, which he says was
also a falsity.

Sullivan goes on to write that his professional life as a
trainer, assistant manager at a furniture store and business owner
“is not the résumé of someone who is suffering from
any type of injury, neurological or otherwise.”

“It is a shame that Mr. Stanmyre chose to mischaracterize
his statements and actions in order to benefit the story,”
Sullivan wrote.

Basically, Sullivan is disputing nearly every fact NJ.com
published about him. Stanmyre is an award-winning journalist,
respected for his enterprise stories. The series, which featured 10
separate articles over a three-day span, seemed to be thoroughly
reported.

“The Star-Ledger is aware of the letter to the state licensing
authority and takes seriously any challenge to the facts we
presented,” Whitmer said. “We stand behind the
reporting and at no point misidentified ourselves or our
intentions.”

Sullivan was likely concerned with how the New Jersey State
Athletic Control Board would view his comments and representation
in the well-circulated work or there would have been no letter to
Lembo.

“I am in great health and look forward to continuing my
career for years to come,” Sullivan wrote. “Please know
that I am always willing to undergo any and all medication
examinations to confirm my health, should I be asked.”