Alleged Theft Forces Cancellation of Immortal MMA Event in Hawaii

By James Meinhardt Feb 7, 2011
WAHIAWA, Hawaii -- Originally supposed to host a night a mixed martial arts fights, the Martinez Gym at Schofield Army Barracks was instead the scene of an alleged crime.

The event, which was being promoted by Immortal MMA and was to be headlined by a light heavyweight bout between Jason Guida and Tasi Edwards, was canceled on Saturday just moments before it was set to begin.

“I was notified that the purse money for the fighters had been stolen out of one of the inspector’s vehicles, so, obviously, we had to take the legal route and get the Military Police and [Honolulu Police Department] and all that involved,” said Jeremy Varney, the event’s promoter. “I brought all the fighters and their managers into the room and explained to them the situation; the state explained to them the situation. And then we gave them the option [that] if they wanted to fight, they could fight and I would pay them at a later date, or they could just walk if they wanted to.

“Ultimately, I made the decision [to cancel the event] because there were only six fighters that agreed to fight out of nine bouts,” he added. “The rest of them were just, you know, it was more ‘I want to get paid’ than it was a fight for the troops, which is completely understandable. You know, [the fighters] train their asses off and they want to get paid and I completely understand. That’s business.”

What actually happened to the reported $22,000 in cash meant for fighter purses remains unclear. Lionel Wright, Chief Inspector for the MMA Program of Hawaii and owner of the vehicle in question, declined to comment on the situation.

“From what I understand, there were some other people in the vehicle. Some people jumped out of the vehicle on the way back here from picking up some fighters or whatnot. That’s really all I know. I was notified that had happened, and we proceeded from there,” said Varney, who declined to further speculate on what happened to the money.

Military Police and Honolulu Police Department investigators also declined to comment on the situation. No signs of forced entry were immediately visible on the vehicle from which the money was allegedly stolen.

Many of the fighters and their trainers expressed their frustrations in the aftermath of the cancellation.

“I don’t really know who to be pissed at, to tell you the truth,” Guida said. “I know that we came here to scrap for the fans and I can’t apologize enough for it not going down, but at the same time we’re professionals and we can’t be not getting paid.”

“I would have [fought] free for the troops; it’s no problem. We can get in there, even if he wanted to shorten up the [rounds]. I know [Guida] cut a lot of weight. I wasn’t worried about it. We’ll do it for free, man,” Edwards said. “Any organization [that] needs a 205 [pounder] or heavyweight or 185 [pounder], give me a call, and we’ll get the work in. No problem.”

Fans that purchased tickets were instructed to take their ticket stubs back to the entrance for a refund.
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