Fighter says MMA exposé had ‘agenda’

George Sullivan was one of the focuses of a

href="http://www.nj.com/sports/index.ssf/2013/11/mma_brain_injuries_danger_mixed_martial_arts_special_report.html"

target="_blank">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

target="_blank">[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.

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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

href="http://www.nj.com/sports/index.ssf/2013/11/mma_brain_injuries_danger_mixed_martial_arts_special_report.html"

target="_blank">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.”

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“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.”