AX Combat Promoter Calls for Restraint, Defends Calgary Commission in Wake of Couture Controversy
By Kelsey Mowatt
Steve Fader may have been hoping for a different variety of coverage to surround his first AX Combat event this past weekend, as the Calgary promoter continues to deal with the fallout since Friday’s controversial bout between Kim Couture and Sheila Bird. Couture was rendered unconscious from a leg scissors choke and then was left in the submisison for several seconds before the fight was stopped by referee Len Koivisto. Since footage of the bout has been circulated on the internet, widespread anger has been expressed about the incident. (Pictured: Bird and Couture (right) after the bout)
“Len Koivisto has been around enough that he could have refereed that fight,” Fader told FCF, while offering his assessment of the controversy. “You know honestly man, you put any kind of experienced referee in that situation; when’s the last time you saw anyone put a scissors choke on anybody?”
“For him not to have made the decision in that short period of time, which seemed like a long period of time, I definitely don’t t think this guy should be crucified for this,” Fader added. “I don’t want to say it’s an honest mistake, as obviously there are signs that he should have been looking for to see whether she was out…he should be paying attention to everything, not necessarily just her eyes.”
When FCF spoke with Couture yesterday, she also called for restraint in respect to those who are calling for Koivisto to be fired, but did concede that some officials may require better training.
“I’ve contacted the commission and we’re going to organize some sort of certification process,” said Fader. “One name off the top of our heads is “Big” John McCarthy and his COMMAND certification, so that we and the commission can get everyone certified and get his course in here. That will help make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
While the Calgary Combative Sports Commission is conducting a review of Friday’s events, and therefore they are not commenting about the controversy at this time, Executive Director of the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission Pat Reid told FCF yesterday that he did not believe Koivisto was COMMAND certified. Koivisto, who is an experienced and well known boxing official, has also officiated MMA bouts in Edmonton prior to August, 2009.
“In training this sort of thing happens all the time,” said Fader, who has also competed as a pro MMA fighter. “For her to be out for ten seconds seems extensive, her face is all bloody and it doesn’t look good, but stuff like that happens in the gym…This situation was very unfortunate and it looked ugly, but it’s not necessarily the worst thing that ever happened.”
Aside from the controversy regarding the late stoppage, another issue which has increased the spotlight on Friday’s AX Combat card is that it was discovered afterwards that Couture was under medical suspension with the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board.
When FCF followed up with Couture about the matter yesterday, she said she was unaware of the suspension until fight day, and that her physicians forwarded the required documentation related to her facial injuries to the NJSACB. Further, Couture contended that the Calgary Commission was satisfied that she had met the requirements related to the medical suspension in New Jersey, and thus accordingly the Calgary Commission allowed her to compete.
“We had our doctors check her out too,” said Fader, when asked to comment on Couture’s medical suspension. “I have copies of all the paperwork that she submitted to New Jersey and I don’t know how much more she can possibly do…She was more than fit to fight. It’s unfortunate that the whole choke thing happened but I think that’s got a lot to do with this.”
The Calgary Commission released a statement yesterday saying that it was their belief, prior to the bout, that Couture had met the requirements of her medical suspension and that they are investigating the matter further. The NJSACB’s Nick Lembo confirmed to FCF today that Couture remains under medical suspension. According to Lembo, the required documentation, specifically a CT scan of her facial bones including orbital and nasal areas, as well as clearance from an ENT specialist, have still not been filed.
All the controversy aside, however, Fader is happy how the first AX Combat show unfolded, and the promoter is planning on holding another event right around the corner.
“The tentative plan right now is the first weekend of September,” said Faber. “It’s good that we’ve been able to bring a higher end show to Calgary because there’s a really good fan base here. The city needs this.”