Hong-Man Choi Denied License, Lesnar Fight Cancelled?

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The following is an article from Yahoo! Sports:

Choi's license denial jeopardizes MMA card

By Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports
May 22, 2007

Former WWE wrestling champion Brock Lesnar may have to wait to make his professional mixed martial arts debut since his scheduled opponent, Hong Man Choi, was denied a license for medical reasons by the California Athletic Commission.

Mike Kogan of FEG USA, one of the card's promoters, confirmed Tuesday that Choi was declined by the commission but said he did not know why.

The 7-foot-2, nearly 400-pound South Korean is scheduled to face Lesnar in the main event of a June 2 card at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Kogan said the card will go on as planned and that a fight between Royce Gracie and Kazushi Sakuraba would be the main event.

Kogan said he plans to bring Choi to another doctor Wednesday for a second opinion. If he receives a favorable opinion from that doctor, Kogan said he will ask the commission to reconsider its ruling.

Kogan said he understands that it is unusual, but said he hopes that if he can prove Choi is fit to fight, the commission would reverse itself because of the significance of the event.

“I think they'll understand this is not just another fight on the card,” Kogan said. “At this point, they have his medicals and they denied his license, but there are procedures in place for repudiating that.

“I don't have time to be (expletive) around and wasting time if I know the guy can't fight. I won't put a guy in there who isn't right to fight. I think he can fight, because he fought (in a kickboxing show) in Hawaii on April 28 and he's all right. But if the second doctor comes to the same conclusion as the first, I have to deal with it.”

The first portion of the card is scheduled to be televised by Showtime, with the second portion, including the Choi-Lesnar fight and the Gracie-Sakuraba match, planned for pay-per-view.

Gary Shaw of Elite XC, another of the card's promoters, was surprised to learn of Choi's problems late Tuesday, but said he is confident the card will be held.

However, Shaw said that if Choi can't fight he hopes FEG has an opponent for Lesnar, who is a big attraction.

“I'm not concerned about the thing actually coming off,” Shaw said. “Showtime will go with its card and I'm sure the pay-per-view card will go, but so many people were looking forward to that fight. If the giant can't pass the medicals, and it sounds like he hasn't, I hope they can find the right replacement because Brock Lesnar is a big part of the card and people want to see him fight.”

FEG has yet to receive its promoter's license from the California commission, but Kogan scoffed at a report earlier Tuesday by The Fight Network (www.thefightnetwork.com) that the card might be called off because of that.

The Fight Network's report said FEG has failed to post a bond to cover the fighters' purses and that the card will not be held if it is not posted soon.

Kogan would not comment on that part of the report, but said FEG is “a substantial promoter that puts on shows all over the world” and said he is working closely with commission officials.

“I know they have to get people to hit their website, but to me, that is insulting because I'm a professional promoter,” Kogan said. “Does the commission have certain things it wants from us? Yes. Have we been filing things with the commission? Yes. Will we be licensed? Yes.

“Why would I sell tickets to the largest venue in the country to hold a pay-per-view, sell the worldwide rights and then sit on my (expletive) and not do what I need to do to be licensed? It's crazy. This is a process and we're going through that process and we will be licensed.”

Armando Garcia, the executive officer of the California commission, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Kevin Iole covers boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports

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