This is a partial transcript of Siyar Bahadurzada's appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. This portion of the conversation focused on the recent dust up involving Siyar and what he alleges to an unsigned contract, with his name on it, in Strikeforce's possession. When I wrote about it at the time, many people thought I was being unfair in assigning blame solely to Strikeforce, as opposed to allowing for the possibility of manager/fighter blame. After the fold and the transcript, we'll explore whether or not the visa issue - as Mike Afromowitz, Strikeforce's Director of Communications, told Bloody Elbow in a statement last week - is truly on Siyar's shoulders.
Ariel: How long ago was this?
S: And when Marius fought Cyborg in Miami, they told Martin [his manager at Golden Glory] fly with me to Miami and they'd sign me in Miami, and that didn't happen. And afterwards, I went to California to train with King Mo and Jason "Mayhem" Miller, and a lot of guys training in Orange County. So, after I signed the contract in April 2010,I haven't - we haven't heard from them, anything. And Golden Glory contacted them many times, and send them text messages, send them e-mails, but they wouldn't answer. And after some months, they said like yeah,we are going to ask a P1 visa for Siyar. And they haven't. I'm sure they still haven't, because it doesn't take so long to get a P1 visa for a fighter to come to the United States to fight. I've heard it takes like two weeks. Ok, give me the doubt of the... give me one good reason why it takes so long for me? I mean, ten months? Come on. How long does it take to take a P1 visa, more than ten months? It's not realistic.
A: And he is saying though that you were having visa issues, almost that it's on you. But you're saying that it's on them to apply for the visa, right?
S: Exactly! Exactly - you apply, if you do not apply for the visa, the visa is not going to come to your door and say " I'm here. Send me to Siyar."
A: And in your experiences in terms of fighting all over the world and what you hear from other fighters that are from Europe that fight in the United States, is the fighter the one that has to apply for the visa or is it the promotion?
S: Well, first - my case, I have an Afghan nationality, I don't have a Dutch nationality, so in my case, they have to ask for a visa, a P1 visa, for me to be able to fight in America. But I have been in America before. So it's not a problem - it's not a problem to ask a visa of me. I've been to America, and I've fought in America - I'm sorry, I haven't fought in America, I've trained in America. So it doesn't take so long. Applying for a visa starts when you sign the contract and give it to the lawyer to apply for the visa. If you don't sign the contract, it's not gonna happen.
A: You signed the contract in April 2010, right?
A: Now, you're not with some rinky dink camp that has no contact with Strikeforce - I mean you're with Golden Glory, as you mentioned, Marloes Coenen, Alistair Overeem. We know Strikeforce is very much in contact with them - I mean Marloes is fighting March 5th - we know that they're talking often. Does your name never come up in these discussions - "hey, by the way, what's going on with Siyar?
S: Trust me, it has. But - when I signed the contract and sent it to Strikeforce, actually Martin Neal, my trainer, he gave - he personally handed over my contract to Strikeforce when Alistair fought Brett Rogers in America [May 15]. So we contacted them - Martin, my trainer, he'd send them e-mail, messages, and they wouldn't answer. I mean, they would say "yeah, we will do this, we will do that" - months later, still nothing.
It's pretty frustrating because, first of all, a year of my career and my top shape, I mean - look at my last three fights. They have been knockouts or technical knockouts. And I feel that my reign is coming right now, I'm 26 years old and I'm growing every day. I'm better than yesterday and I'm sure that tomorrow that I'll be better than today. And they are making me wait for so long on my prime and this... this is a very expensive year for me, I'm an athlete, I cannot fight until I'm sixty years old so I have to fight right now on my prime to get as much belts and as much glory as possible and make a lot of money, but they're having me waiting, waiting and waiting.
And after April 2010, I fought a couple of fights and have some knockouts and still have two more fights for the Glory tourney, and what if I win all those fights by knockout, four or five fights by knockout after they sign me, and they still want me to fight for the same money they offered me five fights before? That's not fair. Let's be honest, that's not fair.
A: ..have they contacted you in the last two weeks and said, you know, "we're working on this, you're coming in, don't worry about it" - have you received any sort of update?
S: Well... (pause) I dunno man, I dunno.
A: You paused there for a second, which leads me to think that you did receive an update.
S: No, I didn't receive an update. I didn't.
All emphasis added.
As a refresher, these were the comments Siyar was apologizing for:
"They've been dicking me around for 10 months, man. 10 f---ing months of my career they dicked me around ." Says Bahadurzada as his voice strains with emotion. "I turned down some big opportunities because of this s--t. Bellator offered me a contract for good money and we told them no because of the Strikeforce contract. If these motherf-----s didn't want me, all they had to do was say so and fine. Instead, Scott 'Pig F----r" Coker and Rich 'F--k' Chou want to play games with me!"
"It's bulls---, man. It's their f---ing contract, they sent it to my management. We didn't make the contract, they did and they sent it to us." Bahadurzada says before laying his chips out on the table. "Let me tell you, I will never accept a f---ing penny from Strikeforce, but I will do this... they have their welterweight champion Nick Diaz fighting [Evangelista Santos] this Saturday. I will fight the winner for free in Strikeforce and if I lose I will retire from MMA. I want you to understand I love MMA, it is the only thing I have in my life that I love so understand how serious I am when I make this challenge to a bunch of clowns I f---ing hate. If Strikeforce accepts, I guarantee you I will knock out their champion."
And the full text of Afromowitz's statement, in response, on behalf of Strikeforce:
There's several moving parts here. First off, this fighter is from overseas. He's had issues getting his visa, a common hurdle in today's world. When there's been potential opportunities for him to fight, he's been busy - most recent fight was in October. So, between getting him into The US and finding a fit for him in our schedule, we haven't secured a matchup for him yet. Strikeforce never confirmed a specific date for him to make his debut with us. However, as soon as we are able to, we look forward to having him fight in our Challengers series.
Emphasis added, because this is the crux of the disagreement - is Siyar having issues acquiring a visa? Even if we completely exempt Siyar's previous non-business related travel to the United States last year, we can prove that Afromowitz is full of shit here. I have to give credit to Fightlinker Jackal pewnt for doing the leg work here, but this is what he found in relation to the P1 Visa, courtesy of VisaPro.com's helpful FAQ.
9. What are the documents required for P-1 petition for athletes or athletic team?
Any two of the following:
The petition filed by a US employer must include:
Tendered contract with major U.S. sports league or team or one commensurate with international recognition and
Any two of the following:
Significant participation in a prior season in majors
International competition with national team
Significant participation in a prior season for U.S. college or university or intercollegiate competitions
Written statement from U.S. official in sport about athlete or team's international recognition
Written statement from expert or sport's media as to international recognition team or individual ranking
Significant honor or award in sport
Emphasis, again, added. That’s pretty clear, right there P-1 visa applications are initiated by the US employer once a contract has been signed, and then the athlete/team is responsible for fulfilling their end once the petition has been filed. Now, either Siyar doesn’t have the credentials necessary to fulfill the visa paperwork he’s received – which he is completely lying about when he says he hasn’t – or Strikeforce, for whatever reason, never applied for the visa.
Who knows why? There might be a perfectly good reason for not applying for the visa. Perhaps they just screwed up and never got around to it. Who knows? What I DO know is that lying about the visa process, and directly insinuating that Siyar is "having visa problems" when it’s actually your fault that the ball hasn’t gotten rolling, is a powerfully shitty thing to do. When you screw up, just admit it. It’s actually kind of endearing when you do. The opposite happens when you’re caught red-handed being full of shit and lying about why a fighter hasn’t fought for you yet. Is "undearing" a word?
And frankly, I take it as an insult. It took a Fightlinker reader less than an hour to assemble four links that completely refuted the idea that Siyar was in any way capable of getting a work visa by himself (for more info, here, here and a simple Google search will suffice). That's a slap in the face. Mike, you can do better than that when making up reasons for something. Try a little harder. Make it look like you care. It makes my day more interesting.