Bjorn Rebney: Things are great between myself and Attila Vegh

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Slovak fighter Attila Vegh won the Bellator light heavyweight championship by beating Christian M’Pumbu at Bellator 91 on Feb. 28.

On Aug 15 it was announced that Muhammed Lawal would be fighting Emanuel Newton for an interim Bellator light heavyweight belt.

“King Mo will once again meet Emanuel Newton, this time for the interim Bellator Light Heavyweight Title,” said the press release. “With reigning Light Heavyweight Champion Attila Vegh sidelined with a shoulder injury, Mo and Newton will now square off for a shot at the title.”

A number of fans on the UG were dubious, and attributed the interim title shot King Mo was getting to a business decision, not the stated injury. Lawal is a far higher profile fighter than Vegh, and a rematch for a belt with the man who dethroned him is intriguing.

The promotion had invested heavily in Lawal, but his title hopes appeared derailed when Newton knocked him out in Feb. during an eight-man championship qualifiying tournament. However, Lawal entered a four man ‘Summer Series’ tournament beating Seth Petruzelli and Jacob Noe, and found himself back in (interim) title contention, vs. the man who KOed him.

However, in an interview with MMARocks.pl’s Tomasz Marciniak, Vegh reportedly said he was not hurt.

“It’s about business on Bellator’s side,” reads the disputed translation. “People want to see the rematch between King Mo and Newton. That’s why my fight is postponed to January and I’ll face the winner of the November’s fight. I’m not injured, I’m perfectly fine.

“It may be caused by the fact that I’m a foreign fighter, I’m not an American. American people want to see their fighters, but I want give them my belt for free.”

Any UGer fluent in Slovakian can make a determination as to accuracy by watching the video.

However, Bellator released a statement to MMAFighting denying that any such thing occured.

Numerous websites yesterday posted a story regarding Attila Vegh and statements he allegedly made to a reporter while in Poland.  The interview was done in Slovakian, through a reporter speaking Polish, and a number of US websites published the story with inaccurate and misleading information.

Please see the attached medical report to this email, a doctor’s report provided to Bellator by Attila’s doctor detailing his injury and instructing him to do nothing for 2 months.

Additionally, Attila has confirmed that his statements were not translated correctly and were not accurate.  Attila was fully aware that Bellator made numerous attempts to schedule his world title defense vs. Emmanuel Newton, and that his injury prevented that bout from occurring and that Bellator was going to schedule an interim world title fight because of the delays.

Attila will be facing the winner of the Newton vs. Mo Interim World Title fight in early 2014.

The attached medical report:

However, the medical report is dated April 15, and thus the quoted six to eight week duration for treatment would end between May 27 and June 10. The interim title fight is not scheduled until November. Further, the injury referred to is a hematoma in his chest, estimated to be about five fluid ounces in size, caused by a kick. There is no reference to a shoulder injury.

Thus the medical report raised more questions than it answered.

In a follow up conversation with MMAFighting Saturday night, Rebney reiterated that it is a misunderstanding.

“What honest to God happened with Attila Vegh is, Attila came to us and said, ‘I’m injured, here’s the medical report,” said Rebney. “And we went back to him and said, ‘great, tell us when you’re off the injury because we’ve got to do the Newton fight.’ Then Attila came back to us as we started to schedule the Newton fight, which we wanted to do in July, he said I can’t go in July. Because we wanted to do the finalization of the tournament in addition to the Newton fight against Vegh, but couldn’t do it.

“Then we waited until mid-August, and said look, we’ve got to start planning the fall schedule. You’ve either got to say to us, ‘I’m in,” and give us a date in October or November. But if you’re still ambiguous and can’t give us a date we’ve got to schedule something and then you’ll get to fight the winner of the interim fight. And he said, ‘I understand it’s a business, schedule something because I can’t give you a date right now.’ So we did.

“Vegh called us and said, ‘I was quoted out of context,’ and that he said ‘I understand it’s a business, people want to see that fight, so they’ll do it now.’ And people construed it to mean he was saying he was bypassed to step aside. I’ve got a seven-page addendum to his contract that says, I’m injured, here’s the medical report, and I understand I’m injured.”

“Look, everybody likes intrigue and to say, ‘oh my god, what did he do.’ Honestly, he couldn’t say yes. And it was okay, there was no problem with it. He actually asked us for some money and said, ‘hey, can you cover me during this period because I’m not going to be able to fight,’ and I said, ‘sure.’ It was a lot less odd and contrived than it sounded. Things are great between us.”

Read entire article…

A missing piece of the puzzle is obviously the injury in question. By Rebney’s account, in mid August Bellator approached Vegh about whether or not he could definitively fight in October or November. However, the injury that Bellator provided documentation for is a hematoma from a kick suffered in April, with an MD-estimated recovery period ending between late May and early June. Interim titles are not customarily created over chest bruises, however large.

There is presumably a second injury in question, as a bruise that was supposed to be resolved in June would not plausibly prevent a professional fighter from agreeing in August to defend his title in November. That would explain why the press release referenced a shoulder injury, rather than a hematoma in the chest area. As Bellator provided medical documentation on the April chest issue, it would greatly help allay fan concerns if they provided documentation on the second injury, too. That, plus an accurate translation of the interview, should put the matter to rest.