All professional MMA fighters must go through an extensive licensing process with state athletic commissions before stepping into the ring. In Nevada, fighters must have a current Federal ID card for a mixed martial artist and undergo extensive medical tests, including HIV tests, brain MRI, and blood tests in order to obtain a license to fight in the state.
Fighters are not the only people involved in MMA who are required to be licensed. According to NRS (Nevada Revised Statutes) 467.100, “No person may participate, directly or indirectly, in any professional contest or exhibition of unarmed combat unless the person has first procured a license from the Commission.”
So why aren’t UFC matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby licensed in Nevada?
The UFC’s 2015 application for renewal of its promoter license is dated 11/25/2014 and signed by Kirk D. Hendrick, Zuffa’s Chief LegalOfficer. The application identifies Dana White as “matchmaker.” It does not identify Joe Silva and Sean Shelby as matchmakers for the UFC. (See the document here.)
The UFC website lists Joe Silva and Sean Shelby as “matchmakers” and there are even videos of both of the “matchmakers” previewing upcoming fights, including one as recently as May 21, 2015. In response to a public records request, we were informed by NSAC that neither Silva nor Shelby is licensed as a matchmaker in Nevada.
There is evidence that Shelby and Silva have been acting as the UFC’s matchmakers since at least 2013. Silva and Shelby detailed their day-to-day jobs as UFC matchmakers in a 2013 interview published by USA Today. On the UFC website, a post from November 26, 2014, the same month the Zuffa application for renewal was filed, explains how “The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday has not slowed down UFC matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby, as four bouts have been added to the upcoming schedule.” On March 30, 2015, USA Today reported on an encounter MMA fighter Ben Askren had with “UFC matchmaker Joe Silva” on a bus. An April 23, 2015 Yahoo article also describes Joe Silva and Sean Shelby as a “UFC matchmakers.”
There is enough evidence that shows that Silva and Shelby are acting as UFC matchmakers so why aren’t they licensed? It is safe to assume that it is not a financial issue, as it only costs $100 to be licensed as a matchmakers in Nevada.
UFC representatives should be held to the same strict licensing standards as fighters. The Nevada State Athletic Commission would never let an unlicensed fighter participate in a bout so why are they allowing unlicensed matchmakers to set up bouts in the “Fight Capital of the World?”
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