Moruya MMA fighter, Blake Donnelly was left pinching himself after the cancellation of the Brace 53 MMA event in Canberra – just an hour after weigh-ins were completed.
Blake said he had heard of cards being cancelled due to incomplete registrations, but a whole event was something different.
“To have a whole fight closed down … it’s next level,” he said.
“Especially that close after weigh-in. It’s almost unheard of.”
Brace chief executive Kya Pate will receive a report from the ACT government on Monday detailing reasons for the cancellation of Brace 53, which was shut down after the weigh-in last Friday night.
Blake said the cancellation felt “surreal”.
“Everything was the same as usual at the weigh in,” Blake said.
“I made weight and my opponent made weight – he looked ready, and I was ready.
“We squared off, and I after that I went out for dinner with my coach.”
Shortly after, Blake received the news that he would not be competing.
“Everyone else was having a few drinks – I wasn’t, because of the fight the next day,” he said.
“My coach came back from the bar with a drink for me.
“I asked ‘what’s this for?’ and he said he had something to tell me.
“I laughed when he told me – it was only about an hour after the weigh in. It felt surreal.”
The government told Fairfax Media the decision to cancel the event was based on "the need to prioritise the safety of all competitors" in a damning accusation levelled at the promotion.
However "if Brace MMA can meet the legislated requirements for the rescheduling of this event or for future events, there is no reason why Canberra cannot remain an event location for the promotion".
Pate is waiting for more details before commenting however the promotion sent a statement to ticket holders on Sunday morning.
"After setting up the event arena on Friday and as we were in the process of conducting the weigh in we were notified via phone that the ACT Combat board (ACT government) was not permitting the event to proceed," a Brace statement read.
"Brace had already applied for permits well in advance and had the sanctioning body approval. We will be receiving a full report on Monday 7th of May from the ACT government as to the reasons.
"The only limited information we have at this stage is that some of the fighters' registration status was not completed.”
A government spokeswoman says "a number of medical clearances and other technical requirements under the Boxing Control Act were not met" by the promotion.
Blake said, in his experience, Brace and other promotions had always been proactive in ensuring fighter’s registrations were finalised.
“Usually they’re on top of it – if I’ve ever been late for a medical they’ve inboxed me to let me know my registration wasn’t complete well in advance,” he said.
Pate said the ACT Combat board had only recently begun governing MMA: "We can only hope situations like this for all events are handled differently moving forward."
Although this is his fourth fight of 2018 to be cancelled, Blake is optimistic about the rest of the year.
“It’s frustrating, but you have to expect it in an injury-prone sport,” he said.
“I’m taking three weeks in Thailand for training, and then looking forward to some fights later in the year.
“I’ll also focus on training for and entering smaller jiu jitsu competitions. I have a stand up background, and I’m still getting used to BJJ, so I’d like to compete as much as possible.”