Earlier this month the UFC held UFC Fight Night Stockholm, in Sweden, which was headlined by a welterweight bout between Gunnar Nelson and Rick Story. The bout saw Nelson pick up the first loss of his professional career after 5 grueling rounds.
Ahead of the card however, fight fans criticized the commission for several matchup changes, and even denying a fighter license to fight.
SMMAF President Johan Halldin spoke to MMAJunkie about their desire to improve the matchmaking process.
“We assert that the SMMAF is very keen to welcome outside promotions to Sweden. We have for the most part had very good relations with both national and international promoters over the course of many years. Add to that clearer guidelines, and we feel confident that promoters will be encouraged to host events in Sweden.”
“The root of the matter is that the SMMAF is required to look past an athlete’s on-paper record and consider criteria as outlined in its agreement with the Swedish government. Our sanctioning role is closely watched by government officials who have a regular presence at events. The SMMAF and the government have agreed on a Competitor Safety Ladder for which safe and consistent athletic progression is the basis and which dictates that athletes must move through levels of low impact to semi-full contact to full contact to high-level amateur before competing under national professional rules. To compete under national rules, individual matches do not need to be approved but must be matched by a licensed matchmaker. Competition under Unified Rules is allowed as the top professional level of the Competitor Safety Ladder, however matches under that rule set must be approved on a case-by-case basis. It means assessing the athlete who has to be in very good physical and mental form, have a high technical skill and documented competence in full-contact martial arts, as well as professional mixed martial arts experience against legitimate competition. A component of the assessment is also to look at the proposed matchup.
“In the case of Taylor Lapilus, the opponent, Dennis Siver, was extremely competent and experienced, and the match was deemed to be too uneven and thus unsafe, as outlined in an earlier official statement. Lapilus had competed mainly in France under Pankration rules, in which striking on the ground is not permitted. His three-match win streak took place against competition that was 3-7-1 in total, with his most recent victory over an opponent with a 1-1 record. On the other hand, Charles Rosa has two years professional experience following a lengthy amateur career. His 9-0 record includes nine stoppages under Unified Rules against experienced competition. According to Swedish criteria, Lapilus had not yet proved himself as sufficiently experienced under any equivalent of national rules, let alone Unified Rules, to meet an opponent the likes of Siver. This does not mean that Lapilus was not potentially ready for Unified Rules and could not potentially have met another athlete under Unified Rules in Sweden, but that case was not on the table and as such not assessed.”