Fighter claims MMA tell-all twisted the facts

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 fiance 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 resume 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."