It may have looked like he was channeling Rob Van Dam, but Drew Chatman readily admits that he crossed a line at LFA 36 with his pseudo ‘Rolling Thunder’ post-fight celebration on Irvins Ayala.
The line on unsportsmanlike conduct in MMA isn’t exactly clear. After all, when Michael Page is Poke Ball-ing Evangelista Santos after caving the man’s forehead in, who’s to say what’s too far?
The California State Athletic Commission, for one. And Drew Chatman isn’t about to disagree with them.
Last Friday, March 23rd at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, Chatman entered a heavyweight bout against fellow debuting MMA fighter Irvins Ayala. The bout did not start out well for the 23-year-old Dethrone Basecamp prospect.
Early in round 1, Chatman threw a kick, which Ayala caught, dropping Chatman to the mat, where Ayala looked poised to rain down some serious damage. Only the damage never came. Looking to follow his takedown with a diving hammerfist, Ayala instead dove straight into Chatman’s shin, knocking himself unconscious on top of his prone opponent. A lucky day in the life of Drew Chatman.
Or it would have been, had it not been for what happened next. Chatman scrambled to his feet and, using Ayala’s unconscious body as a springboard, launched into a front flip. He lost the fight via disqualification. And, in a recent statement to MMA Fighting, it sounds like Chatman is totally fine with the decision.
“Let me be honest with you, man,” Chatman said. “I don’t deserve to get paid for that. It’s disappointing watching that. My mother has to see that. People that look up to me and see me become an inspiration to them have to look at that. Even though I’m not a champion so to speak, but I overcame a lot of things and I became something that I never thought I would become. Just to have my first pro fight is crazy, because I didn’t think I’d ever be on this level. It just happened so fast.
“So, the rules are the rules. And at the end of the day, when you actually look at what took place, I’m OK with having my pay taken away. I’m OK with being suspended 90 days. I’m OK with that. Because you can’t get that back. The video is priceless. I have to look back at that and live with regret every single day.”
Along with his acceptance of the athletic commission’s decision, Chatman extended a more personal apology to his opponent.
“I want to apologize to Irvins Ayala,” Chatman said. “He was a good opponent. And he brought the fight to me. And he had a lot of heart. It was not a good move on my part as a martial artist. And I want to apologize to the California athletic commission, because they laid down the rules, they gave a great understanding and they do their job very well. Also, to Legacy, LFA, because they gave me a great opportunity to display my skills and it was a good platform.
“I’m not gonna play the victim here, because when you look at it the real victim here is Irvins Ayala. Let’s just be real. He showed up, he fought. It was an unfortunate mishap, but it did not have to end that way. All this publicity, all this media, the reality is I was wrong and I ain’t trying to gain no fame off of this, because I’m a martial artist.”
Chatman has been suspended 90 days and had his fight purse withheld as a result of his post-fight antics. It remains to be seen whether he’ll end up getting another shot in LFA or not.