The landscape of RUFF’s 70 kilogram division has just changed considerably with CEO Joel Resnick’s announcement this morning that Zhang LiPeng has been cut from the promotion.
Zhang LiPeng, since moving to Fighting Empire (北京东方荣誉国际搏击俱乐部) in Beijing, which is managed by Mr. Jiang Hua, has been unable to fulfill the obligations of his contract. Resnick, disappointed in having to cut one of China’ s most promising MMA athletes, comments, “There are a lot of unscrupulous managers out there taking advantage of young, naïve kids who have a hard time thinking long-term. Unfortunately, we just can’t deal with fighters and managers who don’t honor our contract.”
Zhang, who has amassed a 2-2 record with RUFF, which includes a “Submission of the Night” at RUFF: Genesis and a “Fight of the Night” at RUFF 3, has lost the chance to represent China as part of the country’s only government-sanctioned MMA event. Zhang, who was just a couple wins away from winning 1 million RMB, as well as China’s first MMA national championship belt, will now have to sit and watch from the sidelines.
Resnick reflects on the regrettable situation: “We are here as a professional organization to give these guys a chance to perfect their craft and become stars. We are investing a lot in these guys. All we expect is heart and professionalism in return.”
While the loss of Zhang is indeed unfortunate, RUFF is going to continue strong, Resnick asserts. “We’re going to continue providing opportunities to athletes here with the drive to become international-caliber MMA professionals,” he says.
And in a country experiencing rapid growth in terms of MMA development and attention paid by fans and media alike, there is no shortage of future RUFF athletes.