Football season is around the corner. Soon you'll be inundated with more college football than you can wave a yellow flag at.
The University of Tulsa launches football media day 2009 this Thursday. I prefer their version of basketball media day because it's not as well attended. Nothing like asking a college kid the same question they've been asked 15 times already.
Before we kickoff the hard-hitting coverage, let's talk the fight game -- shall we?
It has been a year and a half since I chatted up local mixed martial artist David Heath. Seemed like a good time to run him down again.
Heath (12-5) fought in the UFC from August 2006 through February 2008. He amassed a 2-3 record but one of those losses came at the hands and knees of current UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. Heath took "The Dragon" to a decision, something Machida's last two opponents were unable to do.
"That was years ago. Essentially he's the same guy but he's picking a few more spots in his fights to take chances and it's paying off for him," said Heath, breaking down the elusive Brazilian champion.
While a rematch with the UFC champion seems light years away, Heath would relish the challenge. "I hate to say it but I watched his recent fights and I really would like to fight the guy again. I don't see it happening in the near future. Everybody gets figured out in this sport. It's ridiculous to say anybody is unstoppable," he said.
Since being cut by the UFC in 2008, Heath's fought locally for the Freestyle Cage Fighting promotion based in Tulsa. He's also battled north of the border for Maximum Fighting Championship.
His last MFC fight was broadcast on HDNet. He lost what can only be described as a controversial split decision to a hometown fighter.
He isn't dwelling on the loss. "I don't feel like I lost the fight. I think I'm a little more of a veteran than to let it go to a decision in a guy's hometown.
I think the fight was relatively close for maybe a judge that doesn't know quite what they are looking at.
"I took zero damage in the fight and pretty much dictated were it went the whole time," he said. The promoter and his opponent's trainers agreed and told him he should have been awarded the decision.
His next fight is Saturday, August 8 on a stacked FCF card at the Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino in Tulsa. Call 699-7667 or visit the Osage Box Office for tickets.
Wayne Cole (14-10) is his opponent. Cole wrestled at UCO and has fought in several major promotions including EliteXC, Strikeforce, IFL and Bellator.
He arm locked Rick Roufus in May for his last victory. Cole has a slight height and reach advantage over Heath. His wrestling pedigree is higher as well. "He presents a lot of problems for a lot of different people," said Heath.
Heath doesn't seem worried about the perceived wrestling advantage. "As far as it being a determining factor in the fight, I don't think it will be much more than a little blip in maybe the first round," he said.
The card also features Aron Lofton of Tulsa battling Kansas City's Brian Imes. Local fighter Ryan McClain takes on Matt Paeth of New York.
FCF continues to pull in fighters from across the country. This card features combatants from California, New York, Missouri and Oklahoma.
"This isn't a feeder show for the hometown guys. We've usually got several guys from our gym (Absolute Combat Alliance) fighting on these cards. We're rarely done any favors. Dorothy (Faas) is an irreplaceable asset in the matchmaking department. She goes out there and finds some really tough opponents," Heath said.
Heath understands the sport and is a willing promoter of Oklahoma's fastest growing passion. Just don't ask him about his burgeoning referee career.
"If anything you print out of this -- print this. I've actually been a referee for a couple of years now and I don't have any certifications or licensing. That's something the boxing commission can't seem to make up their mind on," said Heath.
The Oklahoma Boxing Commission is responsible for most sanctioned MMA fights in Green Country. They are apparently waffling on whether to allow experienced, knowledgeable fighters to also serve as refs.
Attempts to contact the OBC went unreturned. "It almost seems like some of us are getting the runaround on the deal," he said.
"The fight should be up to the fighters and a lot of times it is not because of human error. It's hard to keep that out of the ring when you've got guys in the ring refereeing fights that -- they are doing it for the paycheck -- they're doing it for their side gig."
This is similar to a dilemma the NFL faces yearly. Hire part-time or full-time referees who dedicate their lives to the game 24/7/365.
"There is not an inch about the rules of the sport that we don't know. There's not a position that is going to happen in the ring that we haven't been in so we know exactly what we're looking at. We know where to look and when."
I have to side with Heath on this one. Not just because he could kick my ass. As a fight fan, the last thing I want to witness is a ref screwing up the outcome of a fight or worse, causing a fighter harm by not stopping a fight in a timely fashion.
He admits the gig is a lot harder than he realized when he was a fighter. "You'd be surprised how much stuff you can hear from the fans. 'Stand them up.' When you stop a fight, (the fans) can't see into a fighter's face on the ground and his eyes rolling back into his head.
"They don't think it should have been stopped. They don't know what you know so... You gotta take a lot of shit sometimes," he said.
Speaking of taking a lot of poop, wish me luck with the rest of the media vultures at TU on Thursday.
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