Mike Whitehead

Report: Rothwell, Whitehead Pulled from IFL Grand Prix; Gusmao Injured

Sam Caplan is reporting that both Ben Rothwell and Mike Whitehead have been pulled from next month’s IFL Grand Prix because of contract problems:

The IFL made a decision to pull both Rothwell and Whitehead from their respective brackets after the promotion was unable to secure signed commitments from each fighter for the 2007 season. Rather than risk having one or both of the fighters winning a title only possibly to see them never defend it within the IFL, a decision was made to change directions.

The IFL’s policy in this regard is similar to the UFC’s of not allowing fighters with only one fight remaining on their contract to challenge for a title. The IFL felt it had secured verbal commitments in regard to 2008 from Rothwell and Whitehead’s camp. Both are managed by Monte Cox.

However, when the IFL tried to finalize the 2008 contracts for Rothwell and Whitehead they felt as though their management was being unresponsive. After a deadline passed, the team-oriented fight promotion was left with the feeling that the two might be considering offers from outside the organization.

Huge blow to the Grand Prix right there, especially since Rothwell is the company’s star.

So what happens now?

Caplan says that Bryan Vetell will serve as Rothwell’s replacement take on Antoine Jaoude. Roy Nelson will face Reese Andy in the other. As for the light heavyweights, Andre Gusmao has been forced to pull out with a foot injury so Vladimir Matyushenko will be fighting Alex Schoenauer for the title instead of having a tournament take place.

Caplan also mentioned that Jay Hieron was almost pulled from the event but agreed to a contract extension at the last minute. I find this odd because I spoke with Hieron last week and he didn’t mention anything concerning that.

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