A heavyweight co-main attraction between David “Tank” Abbott and Mike Bourke has been scratched from Friday’s Wargods “Valentine’s Eve Massacre” at the Selland Arena in Fresno, Calif., confirmed State Athletic Commission Assistant Executive Director Bill Douglas late Thursday.
However, efforts are still afoot to resurrect the fight, said a rep for the promotion.
Abbott (9-14) and Bourke (8-11-1) both reported to the event’s official weigh-ins on Thursday, only to be turned away by CSAC officials who said the promotion had cancelled the bout themselves almost a week before.
“Tank Abbott was never even considered [on the card Thursday] because as of five days ago, the promotion conveyed to us that he was completely off the show,” Douglas told Sherdog.com late Thursday.
Douglas said Wargods reps asked for the bout to be reinstated at the weigh-ins, but the necessary paperwork was not complete.
“When Tank Abbott’s fight was dropped, we just moved on with the card. Tank Abbott wasn’t even in my mind going into today,” said Douglas. “I was more concerned about the matches that they were trying to make with us last minute… We have no medicals on file for him at all.”
Abbott, who’s lost seven of his last eight bouts since returning to the cage in 2003, last competed in California for the Strikeforce promotion in 2006. Douglas said today’s more stringent requirements would have required the 43-year-old to complete the licensing process from start to finish.
“The bottom line is you can’t be matchmaking at the weigh-ins,” said Douglas. “I’ve been spending all day matchmaking with the promoter and trying to help save their show. I was very flexible in approving bouts up until that two-hour mark before the weigh-in because I don’t want to see any shows suffer and I don’t want MMA fans to be deprived of any bouts, so I was really bending.”
A Wargods executive, who asked not to be named, called the situation “a misunderstanding,” and said Abbott would fight at the event on Friday.
“We took the fight off the card and were going to replace it with our current heavyweight champion Lavar Johnson, who was approved to fight Ruben ‘Warpath’ Villareal,” said the executive.
When Johnson was pulled by his management to recuperate following a recent fight, the executive said Abbott was approached again and “an agreement” was reached over the weekend.
The executive said he put the fight back on the roster on Tuesday, but the commission employee assigned to supervise the event was on vacation and couldn’t accept the request.
“We shot an email in to let them know the fight was back on, but I don’t think the right person received it,” he said. “Obviously, there’s a miscommunication there. We didn’t know we had to get approval on it again. When [the fighters] showed up, [the commission] didn’t have their file and that’s why they couldn’t approve it.”
The Wargods rep also contends that all of Abbott’s paperwork, including his medical tests, was submitted and approved in time.
“That fight was approved as of a month ago, but they didn’t have the paperwork with them [on Thursday at the weigh-ins.] I guarantee you by 10 o’clock tomorrow morning, this will all be sorted out and Tank will be back on the card.”
When contacted Thursday evening, Abbott told Sherdog.com that the fight was off and that he was en route back to his Huntington Beach home, some 260 miles away from Fresno.
The promotion rep said Wargods still plans to match UFC contemporaries Shamrock and Abbott up at a later date, although their efforts are still focused on Friday’s event.
Of the 13 original matchups submitted, Friday’s roster has dwindled down to eight bouts, four of which have been medically cleared as of Thursday night, said Douglas. The main event between UFC legend Ken Shamrock and Ross Clifton has been approved. Ken Shamrock Productions is also a listed co-promoter for the event.
Douglas said he anticipated the final four bouts in question to make their requirements in time to keep the event afloat. A ninth bout, featuring EliteXC veteran Tonya Evinger, was proposed on Thursday but is awaiting commission approval.
“Massacre” will be streamed live on Sherdog.com beginning at 6:30 p.m. PST.