Gratz goes on record regarding Puro Combate 3

Written By: Barry Laminack

The rumor mills have been churning and there has been a lot of speculation and assumptions made following last weeks abrupt cancellation of the Puro Combate 3 card.  After losing it’s top three draws (Jason David Frank, Nick Mitchell and Randy Hauer) the show struggled to get 200 fans through the door come fight night (Dec. 2, 2010).  According to Puro Combate’s Co-Owner James Gratz, this along with issues with the owners of the venue (Escapade 2001) were major factors in canceling the show.

“Trust me, the last thing I wanted to do was climb in that cage and tell everyone that the show had been canceled.” Gratz told via phone. He added that he felt terrible about what happened for both the fighters and fans.

A big part of the controversy surrounding the cancellation of the show is due in part because none of the fighters schedule to fight received any show money for the event.  I asked Gratz about that during our conversation. “The fighters were not awarded their show money because the contract did not warrant it. On the contract, the third blank states the following: ‘In the event the opponent fails to appear, or the event is cancelled due to no fault of the contestant named herein, promoter will pay the contestant ______’. In that blank on every one’s contract it said $0.00 and every one of the fighters signed it. I have never had this happen, and did not anticipate it to happen, and will take measures to assure that it never happens again. If all of those factors are not in place, then we will not have another show. “

Gratz added that he will make sure that not only will future contracts have some kind of dollar value on the contracts for fighters, but that they will have cashiers checks at weigh-ins for each fighter in the amount of their agreed upon show pay.

I asked James what he felt like was the big reason for the lack of ticket sales, to which he responded, “We did our best to market the show. We had TV ads, posters and more.” Gratz hinted that expected sales from fighters were well below expectations and also acknowledged that having Frank and Mitchell dropped from the card at the last minute may have played a role. “We always expect a walk up of at least 400-500, but we didn’t see that this time around.”

Frank was dropped form the card at the last minute because his opponent’s blood work would prevent him from being eligible to compete. The state would not allow Mitchell to fight because of an injury. Perhaps the most unfortunate scratch was Hauer, who was not allowed to fight because the doctor who performed his EKG failed to sign off on the paperwork properly.  Even after the doctor notified the state that it was his mistake and not Hauer’s, he was still not allowed to fight. Another fighter also had paperwork issues after failing to sign all of his paperwork. “Even though he got it in on time and just missed a couple of signatures, the state wouldn’t budge and refused to let him fight,” Gratz said.

As for the future, I asked Gratz if there were plans to make up this show or if we would see any more shows at all from Puro Combate. “We have not targeted a make up date as of yet.” He added, “We have made some tentative plans for 2011, but nothing is set in concrete. We [He and co-owner Rocky Long] still need to meet with each other and discuss everything before we make a decision on anything. One thing is for certain, we will not be back at that venue. We had some serious difficulties with one of the owners and mutually agreed that we will not be back. Before another show is put together, we have to make sure everything is right, and this sort of embarrassment never happens again.  Although we always like to take care of the fighters, people have to remember, we are the ones who lost our butts. The majority of the fight card was done the day before, so they just lost a few hours of time, and for that we are sorry. We will try to make it up to them in the future, may it be on our card, or on one of the other promotions around the state and country that calls us up.”