An Open Letter From Cody “The Renegade” Gibson to CSAC

Cody “The Renegade” Gibson (15-7) recently tried to open a portal of communication amongst the decision-makers at the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) in regards to astute observations he’s made about the direction MMA seems to be going in “The Golden State.”

Nowadays, The former UFC contender and Tachi Palace Fights Bantamweight Champion finds himself locked in a small enclosure against a large group adolescent attitudes as a social science and economics teacher. Apparently, Gibson’s competitive juices have begun flowing again; therefore, he assigned himself some extra homework: more rounds at the gym. The Visalia resident hoped to land in the organization known as Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA), as per a Tweet posted last month:

Privy to the demands, both physically and mentally, a prizefighter faces when contracting their brand of pain delivery out to the highest bidder—training, diet, and endless self-promotion, the thirty-year-old wouldn’t tease a return unless every ounce of doubt had escaped his pores. After two weeks without a reply from LFA—also according to Gibson’s Twitter—“The Renegade” opened an auction to anyone in need of a battle-tested vet:

While cornering an amateur teammate at a local event, the realization of MMA’s current lot—especially at the professional level—in California coupled with his own vested interest in rebounding from retirement collided before his eyes. Around the time Gibson decided to call it quits, MMA’s landscape throughout “The Golden State” shifted. Instead of an equal number of slots for amateurs and professionals, promotions focused on the pros slowed to a crawl, however, ammy shows have ravaged the land like wildfire.

About a year before Gibson’s final fight, Tachi Palace Fights (TPF) 31 on May 18, 2017, West Coast Fighting Championship, a popular promotion out of Sacramento, vanished from existence. Global Knockout, a promotion housed in Jackson and gaining exponential traction every time they rolled out their crimson canvas, unexpectedly cancelled GKO 12, their last planned show, which was scheduled to take place earlier this year, and have yet to be heard from since. Even TPF, the Lemoore-based organization that Gibson championed before suffering the final loss of on his resume—at least for now, used to wave the flag of MMA excellence in California, but space on their cards is limited, shows are far and few between,, and they’ve added an all-amateur event, entitled: #1 Prospects, to their lineup.

Of course, promotions such as San Francisco’s Dragon House, voted NorCal MMA’s 2017 Professional Promotion of the Year, have no plan of pausing their nearly decade-long production of several spectacles a year; moreover, California Fighting Championship (CFC) in Sonora has hosted two pro/am fight cards in recent memory—with plans for a third on the horizon. The Fact of the matter is: the area’s hotbed of talent cannot thrive without more opportunities to bolster experience in sanctioned competition.

Nobody has the end-all-be-all answer. Additionally, nobody is pointing fingers at any single individual and demanding them to open their pocketbooks for how others see fit. However, certain elements are preventing promoters, those who create the skeleton for a show, from filling their cages with professional grade mixed martial artists to serve as the backbone.

In an effort to accelerate changes in the sport, Gibson shared the conversation starter he emailed to the head honchos at CSAC about amateur MMA overhauling the scene:

Gibson’s email to CSAC reads as follows, “Hello, I hope this email finds the right set of eyes. My name is Cody Gibson. I’ve been a professional mixed martial arts fighter for ten years. I’m also a social science and economics teacher. I’ve fought in shows as big as the UFC at the Mandalay Bay and MGM and as small as the reservation fights in the hills of the Central Valley. This email is not intended to be a long, wordy list of my credibility and experience. I just wanted to bring your attention [to] the transformation I’ve seen in the MMA world in California. When I started fighting, amateur MMA did not exist in the state. Today, it has engulfed it. From a promoter’s viewpoint, I get it; you can make a lot more money when you don’t have a payroll of fighters. The vast majority of regional MMA fans are supporting friends/family or just looking for a good night out and don’t care as much about the quality of the product. From a business perspective, amateur MMA is the way to go. But what happens when an amateur is ready to turn professional? Where do they fight? Over the last few years, as amateur MMA promotions have continued to rise, I’ve seen a massive decline in pro shows. When I started this realization on social media, people from other states brought to my attention that in their respective states, it is illegal to have an entire promotional card made up of amateurs—Pennsylvania specifically. They said the card had to be a mixture of both professional and amateur. I would like to recommend that the CSAC take a long hard look at this issue and the current state of mixed martial arts in California.”

Continuing with the theme of utilizing Gibson’s Twitter account to propel a point, the post pinned at the top of his page states, “Fighting provides the opportunity to tap into realms of yourself that you did not know existed.” If opportunity is absent, many mixed martial artists may never transcend the reality of their potential.

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