Kyle Shiely

Kyle Shiely has spent the last 10 years studying the sport and business of Mixed Martial Arts. As editor of the No Holds Barred e-newsletter, he's one of the early MMA journalists. He is a licensed MMA judge for the state of Minnesota. Read more about Kyle Shiely

Brett Rogers looks to knock out former champ

Posted by: Kyle Shiely Updated: June 17, 2011 - 12:06 PM


St Paul’s baddest heavyweight, Brett “Da Grim” Rogers (11-2), returns to the national stage tomorrow night on Showtime as he is set to face off against former UFC Heavyweight champion Josh Barnett (29-5) in the opening round of Strikeforce’s heavyweight tournament.

Rogers was last seen nationally in Strikeforce a year ago when he faced heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem in what had to be a disappointing performance, a first round TKO loss that saw Rogers land only one punch according to CompuStrike.

Since then, Rogers has been focusing on training while waiting for another opportunity in the Strikeforce steel. He did travel up to Hallifax, Nova Scotia late last year to take on journeyman heavyweight Ruben Villareal for the W-1 promotion in a fight which saw Rogers victorious by unanimous decision.

Rogers has patiently been waiting for his chance to get back to Strikeforce as problems surrounding the licensing of Barnett have forced Strikeforce to delay this fight for months.

Barnett is a controversial figure in the MMA world and getting him licensed in the US has been a consistent problem for Strikeforce. Barnett has twice tested positive for using performance enhancing drugs, the first time in 2002 following his win over Randy Couture for the UFC Heavyweight title (which he was stripped of and never defend) and then again in 2009 leading up to a fight for the now defunct Affliction promotion.

That positive test contributed to the collapse of the Affliction promotion, as Barnett was scheduled to face Fedor Emelianenko on their third pay-per-view in August of 2009. Unfortunately the California State Athletic Commission announced they would not license Barnett for the fight just 10 days before it was set to take place, because Barnett had failed a pre-fight test for PEDs. With no main event the show was canceled and Affliction announced days later they would no longer be promoting MMA events.

Since then, Barnett’s attempts to get relicensed in the US has been a comedy of errors. He delayed his hearing to get relicensed by the CSAC three times and had a fourth one canceled when he did not appear with his lawyers. The next time Barnett appeared, but his lawyers did not.

Finally, Strikeforce was forced to commission shop the fight around the country, because California was not going to license Barnett, and most other commissions would not license Barnett until he cleared things up with the CSAC. Eventually the Texas State Athletic Commission agreed to sanction the fight (the same commission that allowed Antionio Margarito to box after being suspended for having loaded gloves in a fight in California) and the fight was set for tomorrow night.

Rogers is a couple of years younger (30 vs 33) has a five inch reach advantage and will be probably 20 pounds heavier than Barnett when they enter the cage tomorrow night. Barnett has the experience factor, but as we’ve seen from his contemporaries like Fedor and Couture, all these years of fighting have taken a toll on their bodies and their chins. Rogers has barely been touched in most of his fights, and has spent most of the last few years training at home, while Barnett has traveled the world fighting, doing pro wrestling and battling California for a license.

The fight will be the semi-main event tomorrow, leading up to another heavyweight tournament battle between Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werum (the title is not on the line). The winner of Barnett-Rogers will face Sergei Kharitonov sometime later this year.

Also on the card is former St Paul native Jeff Monson, as he takes on Daniel Cormier in a preliminary bout.

The main card starts at 9 p.m. central time and airs on Showtime live from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Tx.

Lesnar undergoes surgery

Posted by: Kyle Shiely Updated: May 31, 2011 - 10:17 AM



Brock Lesnar will not be returning to the cage this year after undergoing major surgery Friday at the Mayo Clinic.

The former UFC heavyweight champion, who pulled out of his upcoming #1 contenders fight at UFC 131 a couple of weeks ago due to a second attack of diverticulitis, had almost a foot of his intestines removed according to UFC President Dana White.

“He said he's a little sore, but the operation was a huge success," White told fans during the broadcast of UFC 130 last Saturday.

Lesnar, who originally contracted the disease in 2009, believed he had the disease in check thanks to a change in diet, but began to feel weak about a month ago while preparing to fight Junior Dos Santos on June 11.

White said he is hopeful that Lesnar can return to the Octagon by early next year.

Lesnar just released his new autobiography “Death Clutch” last Wednesday, there has been no word on what effect the surgery will have on any book tour engagements.  

White Bear Lake assistant coach on leave for Obama comments

Posted by: Kyle Shiely Updated: January 13, 2011 - 1:41 PM

A White Bear Lake High School part-time assistant wrestling coach has been put on paid administrative leave because of comments he made following a UFC fight about President Barack Obama.

Jacob Volkmann gained national attention last week when he was contacted by the Secret Service for saying he’d like to “knock some sense” into President Barack Obama during a post-fight interview on January 1. When asked who he would like to fight next, he flippantly replied that didn’t matter, then added: “Actually, Obama. He’s not too bright…. like the make a home affordable plan and his health care plan, someone needs to knock some sense into that idiot.”

According to Volkmann, he met with the director of human resources for the school district on Monday and was told that he would be put on leave while an investigation took place into his comments about the President and the subsequent news interviews.

He said that area parents had complained to the school after seeing him on the news. “The biggest problem was that I was wearing White Bear Lake High School hats and shirts (in the news stories), and that was why parents were calling in.”

“I don’t feel like I was representing the school in a bad way,” Volkmann said. “I’m not just being an anti-Obama person. It is just these two polices is what I’m talking about.”

As far as his original comments, it appeared to Volkmann that what the school was most upset about wasn’t his comments about wanting to fight the President. “Their main complaint was that I said he was an idiot, which was probably a bad word to use.”

Volkmann added he doesn’t regret commenting on Obama’s policies. “The only thing I regret saying is saying that he’s an idiot, that is a bad choice of word,” Volkmann said. “I have a chance to make a difference with something that is affecting my life, why not?”

District spokeperson Marisa Vette confirmed that Volkmann is on paid administrative leave while an investigation takes place “in accordance to the law” and said that she would not be able to offer any other information on the situation due to privacy concerns.

The video of Volkmann’s post-fight interview has appeared on websites and newscasts across the country and was featured last week as a bit on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”. Volkmann has done multiple interviews, including an appearance on the cable channel Fox Business News last Tuesday, but said that none of it has had any effect on his chiropractic business so far. He added that it should help his fighting career though.

“It is good for me, the UFC likes it, I’m going to have people against me, but I’m going to have supporters too,” Volkmann added.

Volkmann said he does not have any direct contact with the UFC, but that his manager, Monte Cox, had spoken with UFC matchmaker Joe Silva and that UFC was fine with the situation.

Along with being an mixed martial arts fighter, Volkmann has recently started up his own chiropractic clinic in White Bear Lake. He is best known locally for being a three-time All American wrestler while with the University of Minnesota. Along with helping out the White Bear Lake wrestling squad, he coaches the Ice Bears youth wrestling club as well.

Former Gopher's desire to fight Obama prompts visit from the Secret Service

Posted by: Kyle Shiely Updated: January 6, 2011 - 9:33 PM

Another UFC fighter and former Golden Gopher wrestler’s vocal disapproval of national health care has landed them in hot water.

Jacob Volkmann, who wrestled at the University of Minnesota from 2000-2004, received a visit from the Secret Service on Tuesday after saying in an interview that he would like to fight President Barack Obama.

Following his win over Antonio McKee last Saturday at UFC 125, Volkmann was asked who he would like to fight next by’s Ariel Helwani. He flippantly replied that didn’t matter, then added: “Actually, Obama. He’s not too bright…. like the make a home affordable plan and his health care plan, someone needs to knock some sense into that idiot.”

Helwani then asked if Volkmann is a Sarah Palin fan, to which he replied “No, no. I just don’t like what Barack is doing.”

Two days later, Volkmann says he received a visit from two representatives from the Secret Service.

Volkmann recalled the meeting in a story on today.

“It happened on Tuesday, I was coaching youth practice, and then two guys came up and one of the other coaches that was helping me out, they said there was a cop and another guy out there waiting for me,” Volkmann said. “I went out there and the guy introduced himself and said he was from the Secret Service and he wanted to ask me some questions about UFC 125 and my quote. He said there were people calling in to D.C. telling them that somebody, me, was threatening the President.”

Volkmann told the website that the Secret Service had the entire text of his interview. “He was like ‘is this what you said?’ and I said, ‘yes it is.’ He’s like ‘I want to let you know I’m a little embarrassed for coming here and doing this because obviously nothing happened,’” Volkmann said. “He actually apologized for coming, but he had to come. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to D.C to hurt the President.”

Volkman told MMA Weekly that his original comments were because of his disagreement with last year’s passage of the "Obamacare" health care bill.

“People were misunderstanding the point of view I was going for with the health care plan. That’s why they were getting so upset. I’m thinking about the provider, I’m a chiropractor, so I’m thinking about my point of view, not everyone getting insurance. They don’t have to worry about getting denied, which is good I guess, just not good for health care providers,” said Volkmann.

In the original interview, Volkmann told Helwani “I just don’t like what Barack was doing, cause I’m a chiropractor, so I know the health care situation is not good, but he’s making it worse… It’s irritating, because I’m starting my own business and it’s not easy when you’re giving insurance companies the power to decline you and not pay you.”

Volkman recently opened his own chiropractic clinic, Volkmann Chiropractic, in White Bear Lake.

Volkmann is ninth all-time in victories for the Gopher wrestling team, with a record of 127-36-0 from 2000-2004. He’s currently 3-2 in the UFC and trains at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy in Brooklyn Center.

Volkmann is the second former Gopher wrestler and current UFC fighter to receive publicity for their comments on health care. Former NCAA champion and former UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar made national news a year ago when he criticized the Canadian health care system following his hospitalization outside Winnipeg from an inflammation of diverticulitis. Lesnar left the hospital against doctor’s orders and raced to a North Dakota hospital where he credits doctors with saving his life.

Here is the original interview:


New combative sports director sees challenges for 2011

Posted by: Kyle Shiely Updated: December 9, 2010 - 11:42 AM

The new Minnesota Combative Sports Commission’s executive director has a lot of challenges to overcome as he takes the helm of the fledgling commission.

In October, RD Brown was tabbed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to replace the retired Scott LeDoux as the executive director of the commission. Brown, 64, has served as one of the commissioners for the past three years, including a term as chairman of the board this past year.

With the current state budget crisis, Brown, from St. Paul,  knows the commission is facing the risk of disbandment if it is not self-supporting by this summer. Brown said the most important thing the commission must do is find new revenue streams in order to keep the commission afloat.

“We can’t make it on just plain license revenue and event revenue and we don’t want to raise those fees,” Brown said. “Even if we raise them, it wouldn’t bring in enough revenue to keep everything going, so we need to figure out another way of doing that.”

During the 2009 legislative session, the commission was allocated $80,000 from the state for fiscal year 2010 with the mandate it must be self-supporting by the end of that period or face dissolution.

“You figure we get about $46,000, maybe $50,000, from license fees. Maybe another $50,000 from the event fees,” Brown explained. “That goes into taking care of the licensing, making sure people are at the events and so forth, making sure we check on the fighters' records and all those types of things. All of the administrative stuff that goes on.”

At a recent special meeting, the commission met to brainstorm a couple of suggestions for the Legislature on how it could come up with additional funding, including a possible tax on UFC and boxing pay-per-views purchased within the state, or the raising of event fees. Currently, promoters pay a $1,500 fee to put on an event with professional boxers or mixed martial artists, or $200 for an amateur show. One suggestion was to raise the fees on amateur events to $500.

“To be quite honest, I think the promoters get off (compared to the fees other states charge), especially on an amateur show. They are a still charging (admission) and not paying anybody, except they are paying judges and so forth, but they’re not paying fighters, and they’re not paying us $1,500. They are paying us $200, and so they make money,” Brown said. “There is no promoter in the business that is not making money. They may not be making as much as they would want to, but they are not suffering either.”

“So I don’t feel bad about the money we are charging them,” Brown continued. “I think it is very reasonable for what we are giving them and what we are doing, I think it is very reasonable rate.”

The commission continues to struggle with a lack of support staff as well. While Wisconsin has assigned four people to its department of licensing to oversee boxing and MMA, Minnesota has just an executive director and one office administrator that do all of the work to oversee 40+ events each year.

“We started from the ground floor with nothing. We didn’t have any help in terms of office staff. Truly, Scott (LeDoux) and his wife Carol were doing this all on their own. You go to Nevada where they have a full crew of people. You go to other places where they have a four or five people, we only have one and now two.”

Brown said that under his oversight, the commission’s main focus will be on fighter safety.

“You want to make (bouts) safe. You want to make sure that every time somebody steps into the ring or the cage that you’ve done everything to make sure they are safe before they go on,” explained Brown. “The commission really is here to insure the safety of the fighter. That is paramount.”

Brown believes that the only way for boxing and MMA to grow is if promoters put on better fights that people want to see, and not continue to book mismatches. He’ll make that a priority of the commission under his direction.

“Our job is not to have one fighter move up the line. Our job is to make sure that every fight is an equal fight as much as possible, and that the fans will get a good fight out of it,” Brown said.

As for why the commission should continue to exist, Brown said that without a commission, he believes cities would start to ban MMA again, like many did before the commission was given the authority to oversee the sport in 2007.

“I think there are a number of jurisdictions that allow MMA simply because there is a commission. If the commission was no longer in existence, there would be some backlash within the communities about having it there. There is a ton of people who don’t like it,” Brown said.

According to Brown, one example of this was at Olmeca Night Club in Burnsville, which had a couple of events last year.

“Olmeca was having problems, and the council was saying ‘they are doing MMA, I don’t even like that.’ But because there is a state commission that oversees it, they sort of sat back and said ‘as long as you guys are going to do what you guys are supposed to do, we will allow it,’” explained Brown. “As long as there is a commission, they can come to the commission and the commission will take the heat for all of the things going on. Without a commission they would just begin to ban it.”

One of the issues the commission has faced this past year was the handing down of disciplinary punishments by the board. Previously, the commission had not handed down anything but medical suspensions before 2010.

Duluth boxing promoter Chuck Horton was given a six-month suspension for holding unlicensed exhibition fights at a bar in Duluth last April, but later had the suspension stayed for two years on appeal to the commission.

“I think the idea was not to sort of punish Chuck but to get the message to him. Chuck was suspended and couldn’t do anything for four months. I think the message there was if you do we’ll continue to do this, but next time, since you’ve done it before, we’re not going to back off and let it go after a few months.”

In addition, a fighter who had been suspended for six months for fighting with an expired license had his suspension reduced on appeal as well. Brown said that will have to change.

“I think we have to be firmer in what we do. If we say we are going to do it, we have to do it. I think that is going to be on the commission. We don’t want to hurt people and we don’t want to ruin the sport. But if you have a rule, the rule is there for a reason,” Brown stated. “If we don’t like the rule, we need to get it changed, but if we have it, we have to enforce it. You don’t have to like it, you just have to enforce it.”

For more on Brown, his thoughts on the amateur MMA scene and much more, the entire hour long conversation has been posted on the Minnesota MMA news page, which you can find here.


Gov. Pawlenty names new executive director to Combative Sports Commission

Posted by: Kyle Shiely Updated: October 25, 2010 - 4:04 PM


(New executive director RD Brown oversees last week's Minnesota Combative Sports Commission meeting in Blaine.)


After a five month wait, Governor Pawlenty announced today the appointment of R.D. Brown as the new executive director of the Minnesota Combative Sports Commission

Brown, 64 from St. Paul, replaces former heavyweight boxer Scott LeDoux. LeDoux announced his retirement in April, effective May 15.

The position had been vacent for the last five months after LeDoux retired due to his continuing battle against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

At the April commission meeting where LeDoux’s retirement was announced, commissioner Bob Dolan informed the public that the Governor’s office had instructed the commission to interview potential candidates and nominate a replacement. A three commissioner panel interviewed two candidates that were sent to them by the State’s human resources department. The full commission then voted 5-0 (with three abstentions) to nominate Brown at their regular meeting in June. That recommendation was sent to the Governors office the next day.

The Governor’s office sat on the recommendation for another four months before naming Brown as the new E.D. today.
With this appointment, Brown will be stepping down as chairman of the MNCSC. The executive director job will become a full-time paid position. Previously both the director job and office administrator job have been part-time positions.

According to the press release sent out by the Governor’s office, Brown “serves the community as a volunteer on numerous civic and community boards, including the Minnesota Board on Aging, Minnesota Supreme Court Task Force on Racial Bias in the Courts, Ramsey County Children’s Services Review Panel, and HealthPartners Patient Council and Regions Hospital Patient Council.”

The release goes on to say that Brown is a graduate of Central College in Pella, Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in businesses administration and management, and holds a masters in health services administration and business administration from Columbia Pacific University in Rafael, Calif. He most recently worked as the vice president of child and family support services for Children’s Home Society and Family Services, before retiring.

Brown was appointed as one of the commissioners with MMA knowledge in 2007. He has been the most active of the nine current commissioner since his appointment, overseeing the majority of mixed martial arts and boxing events held in Minnesota since 2007. He has also helped out office administrator Matt Schowalter while the commission waited for a new executive director to be named.

The MCSC was established in 2006 to oversee boxing after the previous commission was disbanded by Gov. Jesse Ventura in a cost cutting move. LeDoux was instrumental in its resurrection and then the expansion to overseeing MMA in 2007.

The commission regulated 45 events in fiscal year 2010 and licenses roughly 2000 individuals every year. Without an executive director, the majority of the work had fallen on Schowalter these past 5 months. 

According to Ben Pherson, editor of the Minnesota MMA news website, Brown’s appointment will become effective Nov. 1. A special meeting of the MCSC has been set for Wednesday night, Oct. 27, at the Schawn Center in Blaine to discuss what the salary should be now that it is a full-time paid position.


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