Monday, December 03, 2007

Sean Salmon Discusses Strikeforce Tourney Fall Out

Posted by Sean Salmon on December 3, 2007 at 11:19 am ET
By Sean Salmon/

I want to start this column by first apologizing to my family, friends, and fans for not getting this out sooner.

I know there are a lot of people out there that truly care about me that have been patiently waiting for an update on There are a couple reasons for the delay. First, I needed to find out my standing with the California State Athletic Commision. I didn’t want to do a column without having all the information. Second, after this last loss, I just haven’t felt much like myself. When you identify yourself as a fighter (which I do) and have somewhat of a hot streak going (which I did) and then get knocked on your ass the way I did — well, I just needed sometime to myself.

I will go over everything right now, this still being the toughest column that I’ve wanted to write.

My week leading up to the Nov. 16 Strikeforce show started early Monday morning with a flight to Orange County, which was no more than 20 minutes from my agent’s office ( in Huntington Beach, Calif. My brother Matt picked me up at the airport, and we headed to Ken Pavia’s office. From there, we jumped right back into Julian’s car (Julian is one of the agency’s sponsorship guys) to head to the TapouT headquarters. It was about an hour and a half drive, but I had never met Julian and had never been to the TapouT headquarters, which were two things that I really wanted to take care of. Julian fit the employee model to a tee: young, goal-oriented, driven and professional.

I will tell you that the TapouT guys have their business together. They have taken over an entire strip mall. We walked through the doors, and I was blown away: a huge warehouse with a beautiful front room with around 20 employees all working hard. They all knew me by name when I walked in and gave me whatever I needed. I am not easily impressed, but I was impressed.

We headed back to Huntington Beach, where my brother and I did a late-night weight cut. We had to wake up early the next day to get to our medicals, which was the whole reason for getting to California and Orange County on Monday.

What was suppose to take about two hours took close to eight. GT, one of’s top dogs, picked us (Dennis Hallman, Sammy Morgan and I) up at 7 in the morning to get the meds taken care of. It turned into a nightmare. I thought I only needed a couple of things done (blood work and eye exam), but I ended up doing everything: blood work, physical, EKG, MRI, etc. When we finally got back to Huntington Beach, we had to check out of the hotel and get to the gym for interviews and workout filming. I also had some weight to lose.

It was a touch strange hanging out with Dennis Hallman for a couple days, considering as far as we knew, we were going to be fighting that Friday night. But he was a great guy and we got along just fine. We both kept our distance at the training center and during the interviews so not to appear like we were spying, but we spoke like friends when we were together. I have a lot of respect for him (and Sammy, as well) after that weekend.

Before I get a million questions in the comments section: yes, I did meet Tito Ortiz at the gym. He is a great guy and easy to talk to. I am not a fan of his style of bravado, but I have always respected him as an athlete.

We all flew to San Jose, the host city for the Strikeforce event, that night. I was having a much easier time making 185 pounds the second time around. My brother Matt was on top of everything, and Ken and his guys were doing an awesome job having two of their clients fighting eachother (Dennis and me).

Then the roof fell in on me.

I got a call from Ken exactly two hours before weigh-ins on Thursday. I said, “What’s up Ken?,” and he asked where I was. I replied that I was in the hotel. He said, “Come up to my room; it’s important,” Those are the last words you want to hear from an agent two hours before a weigh-in that you are still one pound over (and miserable) for.

My feelings were justified when I walked into his room and saw Dennis sitting in a chair. We were told Yuki Sasaki failed his medicals and was out of the four-man middleweight tournament planned for the following day. Dennis and I were in the “alternate bout” for the tournament, so one of us had to step up. Honestly, my first thought was, “Not me, I have a fight with Jason “Mayhem” Miller in a month and don’t want to risk a thing,” In hindsight, I wish I would have spoken up. After about a half hour of going back and forth, I told Ken that I have another pound to lose, you’re my agent, make a decision, and let me know when it’s final.

With a renewed anger, I went and lost the pound pretty quickly, and Matt and I headed to weigh-ins. There, I found out there that everything was far from settled. Sasaki still had a chance on Friday (the day of the fight) to pass his medicals.

I made weight, took the pre-fight drug test, ate, and went to bed hoping to be fighting Dennis the next day. For the first time since I started fighting, I had a gameplan for a specific opponent. I was going to grind out a win over Dennis and move on to Mayhem the next month.

I woke up, called Ken, and found out nothing. Later that afternoon, Ken called me down to the lobby of the hotel. He told Dennis and me that one of us had to replace Sasaki and fight Jorge Santiago in the first round. Dennis had an existing deal with American Top Team that prevented him from fighting any of the team members. Five hours before the fight, I told everyone around me that I would win and I took the fight. I was far from confident, and I knew I had no gameplan and didn’t know a thing about Santiago.

Later that night, I walked into the cage at the HP Pavilion, still trying to convince myself that I would win. (It’s not an ideal way to step into a cage, when I am normally 100 percent confident.) The bottom line: I got what I deserved. Santiago is a tough kid, and although I respected his ability to beat me, my mind was not anywhere near where it should have been.

This is where my problems got multiplied by 10. I remember everything — except the knee that hit me and knocked me out. I remember waking up with what seemed like 10 people right in my face. Aparently, I was still in fight mode because I wanted them all away from me right now. They talked me into a stretcher and took me to the hospital to run all the neccasary tests. Right as I was being discharched from the hospital, Matt got a call asking if I had a seizure. I had no idea that a seizure was even mentioned. We asked the doctor about that, and he said not one test suggested a seizure and that I had nothing more than a mild concussion. I was at the hotel sleeping before midnight. I woke up in the morning the same way I do every morning, except more than a little embarrassed and disappointed in myself.

I am not the fighter that is going to apologize to my fans for losing. I don’t believe that any fighter should ever do that. Unfortunatly, losses are part of the sport, and it is on us as the fighter to find, examine, and eliminate the problem. That is what I am in the process of doing.

That process is being delayed a little bit, though. Because the California State Athletic Commision felt that I may have had a seizure, they want all the medical records from my trip to the hospital that night, and I am sure they are going to want a follow-up MRI. I have no problem with any of this.

I have a wife and a son that I love very much. If I ever had any test come back funny, you will never see me fight again.

However, this time, I was told everything was clean when I left the hospital, and I still want to fight. I will follow up on everything that the CSAC asks of me. I will be back in ‘08.

I am the type of fighter that re-evaluates everything, win or lose. I want to get better no matter what happens. When I lose, I look at everything and make the neccasary changes. I’m making changes. The biggest one is that I will never have a fight signed while I still have one pending. That being said, I do need to fight regularly, but perhaps five to seven times a year will get the job done.

I want to thank all my fans that have contacted me via email, letter, phone call or prayer looking out for me. We are two years into this career, constantly learning and improving. The best is yet to come. As always, if you have any questions or comments I will be checking the comments section and replying to all questions.

Thank you for everything!
Sean Salmon

Sean Salmon (14-5 MMA) is an columnist who pens his Full-Time Fighter column for the site. The column is designed to give readers a behind-the-scenes look at a professional fighter’s career. If you have a question for Salmon, a former Ohio State wrestler and Team Jorge Gurgel member, leave it in the comments section of the post. He answers all respectful questions.



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