Aaron Martinez Reporting:
Elite XC held a press conference today to promote Saturday’s Strikeforce event, which is headlined by the highly-anticipated Middleweight Title fight between Champion Frank Shamrock and number one contender Cung Le. Although this may be the biggest fight card Elite XC has produced the focus was certainly deferred from the fights that are actually going to happen to the situation with Nick Diaz and the Executive Director of the California State Athletic Commission, Armando Garcia, who pulled Diaz from the fight card.
Garcia stated that the reason that Diaz was pulled from the card was because Diaz had not turned in his medical information in time for the fight. This conflicts with what Pro Elite Promoter Gary Shaw claims happened. “What happened yesterday was a travesty to Nick Diaz. Armando Garcia, the Executive Director of the California Commission pulled him off the card. Not based on late medicals because that’s hogwash.” Shaw continued, “I spoke to Armando Garcia in the morning. He never mentioned anything about late medicals. There was no such thing because Nick Diaz was the single first fighter that was medically cleared and had every medical in from the Elite XC side. Armando told me that it had all to do with Marijuana. Armando Garcia over stepped his boundaries in my humble opinion. Nick Diaz did not test positive for drugs, (and) was not offered any pre-fight drug test or any other screening. No one has the right or the authority, including Armando Garcia, to single handedly tell me that Nick Diaz cannot fight in this state based on his opinion” Diaz showed up towards the end of the press conference and appeared disappointed about not fighting this weekend.
“I had every means of showing up and testing clean (for the fight)” Diaz said. Diaz claimed that he went in for his required blood work and MRI exam about a month ago in order to renew his fight license in the state of California. When asked about his history of testing positive for Marijuana in the past, Diaz told the officials administering the tests that it was medically prescribed and not for recreational purposes. “Four other guys already presented their (medical marijuana) cards and they are in the clear, and I (figured) I’m in the clear too then. I still had every means of giving a specimen and passing the test”
Not much was said by Cung Le, who is ready to let his fighting speak for him, but he was humble as usual and thanked Shamrock again for the opportunity, “I got to thank Frank Shamrock for giving me a shot at the title.” Shamrock, on the other hand was basically a tamer MMA version of Apollo Creed. He came with a prepared speech and was constantly joking. “I was doing MMA when there were no weight classes, there were no rounds, there was no Athletic Commission, there was no TV, and there was no money. In short, I’ve been doing MMA since it was called No Holds Barred or NHB.
In my eleven years of Mixed Martial Arts fighting I have never been knocked out, I have never been submitted, I have never been choked out, and I have never lost a Championship match.
If Cung Le can achieve what others with the names like Tito Ortiz, Kevin Jackson, Dan Henderson, Phil
Baroni and others have failed to do then he is truly the better man (Saturday) night. The odds are against
him, and the truth will come out in a beautifully explosive and violent way.”
With Diaz not being allowed to fight by the CSAC and Jake Shields' back injury forcing him not to compete, both of their opponents will now face each other. Jae Suk Lim (who was scheduled to fight Diaz) and Drew Fickett (who was scheduled to fight Shields) will fight at a catch weight, as both fighters stepped up to fight opponents that obviously neither were prepared to face until this week. Even though two of the high profile fighters are off the card both Fickett and Lin are taking their fight very seriously, “He’s not coming all the way from Korea to lose.” Fickett said.
Another fighter who took a fight on short notice is Gabe Lemley. Lemley will be facing Gilbert Melendez for the Strikeforce Lightweight title. “I’d like to thank Gilbert Melendez for taking this fight with me. I’m kind of a Gilbert Melendez fan,” Lemley modestly admitted. Melendez, lamenting his teammates’ woes, commented, “I’m pretty bummed that Nick and Jake are off the card, so I am going to try and represent the Cesar Gracie fighters.”
A fourth fighter to take a fight on short notice is Ryan Jensen who replaced Cyborg Santos against Joey Villasenor. “Its short notice but I was training prior to this for three or four good, solid weeks and I’m hoping we go out there with a bang.” Jensen said. “Jensen is a tough opponent, I think he is actually tougher then the two guys I was scheduled to fight,” Villasenor said of fighting Jensen as a replacement.
Jeremy Millen was also on hand to comment on the recent deal with NBC. “We want to announce that Strikeforce on NBC will be starting April 12th right after Saturday Night Live,” Millen said.
Gary Shaw also had an announcement about a separate TV deal concerning Pro-Elite. “We have signed a multi-fight and multi-year deal with CBS. ” We’ll have an audience of potentially over a hundred million (viewers),” Shaw said. “We are going live… we are going Prime time live on Saturday night.”
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