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Here is the 3rd and final installment of League of their Own: The Story of Shine Fights -
The sleepy military town of Fayetteville, North Carolina was ablaze on Friday, May 14th, 2010.
The craziest man in boxing, Ricardo Mayorga was taking his cigarette-smoking combat antics just outside of Fort Bragg to the Crown Coliseum for his pay-per-view debut as a mixed martial artist.
His opponent was no soft touch, either.
American Top Team product Din Thomas was the definition of an MMA veteran, having been in the sport since the Vale Tudo (translation: anything goes) days in the '90s, amassing a mixed martial arts record at the time of 26-8, with nine of those appearances in the UFC.
However, while weigh-in and weight-cutting were on the fighters' minds, Shine CEO Devin Price was already roiled in battle with an unlikely opponent: boxing super promoter Don King, who felt the fight was in violation of his boxing contract with Ricardo Mayorga.
The judge expressed a need for more time and ordered the court to reconvene the next day, Saturday, May 15th 2010. That was the day of the scheduled fight.
“The whole thing plays out and by about 2 o’clock, the judge goes back and forth and they grant the injunction,” said Price. “This probably is the first time in history that MMA and boxing went to court. The judge made a ruling it would have violated Mayorga’s contract.”
With the emergency injunction granted, the financial loss accrued per each side was discussed, and the judge doled out more terms for King to solidify the ruling.
“The Judge sets a million dollar bond, so (King) was caught off guard because on a Saturday, it’s virtually impossible to get that kind of bond,” Price said emphatically. “We’re not talking about a get-out- of-jail bond. You have to do 10%, and they basically were scrambling because banks were closed. My lawyer leaned over and said, ‘Alright, looks like the fights are going to be happening,’ I was excited!”
Meanwhile, back in Fayetteville, the show and its participants are moving forward as normal.
“We were all kind of scrambling because when we found out he couldn’t fight, we were already at the arena,” said Shine Matchmaker Ron Foster. “There were thousands of people there, everybody had already cut weight, the fighters were warming up and we were ready to go.”
“I’m stepping in and out of the courtroom letting Ron know what is going on,” said Price. “I tell the pay-per-view people that the fights are going on and everybody is excited. Don King’s lawyers are scrambling trying to figure out what they’re going to do. His attorney asks, ‘can we give you $100,000 cash?’ And the judge says, ‘Absolutely not. You have to have a bond here and that’s it; if there is no bond here by 4:00 PM, the fight is happening.’ Its 2:30 PM at this point.”
King’s lawyers then ask the Judge if they can bring in $1 million dollars in cash and the Judge is flabbergasted. Almost unable to compute what was requested, he takes a minute to adjourn making some phone calls then finally returns and obliges the request again with the one caveat that the money must be in the courtroom by 4:00 PM.
“So my lawyer leans over to me and asks, ‘Do you think Don King can get a million dollars cash?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t put anything past Don King,” laughs Price. “Sure enough, they step out, they’re running around and I guess Don King goes to wherever you go to get a million dollars in cash.”
Like a scene out of a movie, at 4:15 PM, King personally comes into the courtroom with $1 million dollars in suitcases. The injunction is now officially granted.
"I still disagree with the ruling, and people talk about what a million dollars cash looks like, it does not look like the movies," laughed Price.
Foster and Devin's brother, Dorian, had to deal with the fallout on the ground.
“Everybody was ready to go and then when the fight got cancelled, the (North Carolina) Commissioner said that there were supposed to be some business things taken care of before he could press on, so they had to pull the plug on the event,” said Foster.
“In my mind, I said, ‘F*ck it! I’m still going to throw the fights," said Devin Price. "It's Saturday, I’ll deal with the legal consequences on Monday. I have to pay a fine or I doubt that I will go to jail. The North Carolina Commission cancelled the fight and I still don’t fully understand."
The resulting emotions are a mixed bag from those who lived with the defeat the most, the young black ownership who attempted to make their first indelible mark on combat sports history.
“You are killing your own," Dorian Prince said in reference to Don King's maneuvering. "It was really bad because we were just like him, trying to come up in a completely different sport. We didn’t expect it from one of our own.”
"We should have had a contingency plan, just in case something did happen,” said Foster. "Even if Don King wouldn’t have gotten involved, what if Mayorga got hurt or what if Din got hurt? But we had put so much emphasis on the Mayorga fight, although we had a great supporting cast, people wanted to see it.”
Although we were all equal 25% ownership partners, Ron Foster and myself eventually left Shine Fight Promotions for separate reasons. Shine went on to make its pay-per-view debut with an eight-man Lightweight Tournament in Newkirk, Oklahoma in September 2010. The event was rife with its own hurdles.
The winner was Drew Fickett who submitted three men, Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett, Dennis Bermudez and Carlo Prater all in the first round to win the $50,000 grand prize.
It would be Shine’s last event.
Although a triumph in its own right, devoid of the original members who made Shine’s rise happen, it capped off the end of an era unceremoniously with ex-employees of Shine 3 bashing the brand and Devin Price in the MMA media.
"A lot of the MMA fan base doesn’t understand all the things that really went on," said Price. "People looked at us as a huge company, not understanding that it was just the four of us doing things that no other promotion had done. It was the perfect team that put together a great product. We didn’t have millions of dollars of financing and backing. This was truly organic growth and we grew this into something."
Eventually, Mayorga did make his MMA debut against Miami based street fighter turned mixed martial artist, Rene "Level" Martinez in Costa Rica. He was submitted in the first round.
Interestingly, Martinez was also in talks with Shine early on and attended Shine 2: American Top Team vs. The World, along with Mayorga merely, by happenstance.
This is the true story of Shine Fight Promotions, one that you should know, as it is the universal story of struggle that once gave the mixed martial arts world a soul, and an enduring legacy despite existing only a few short months.