Monday Morning Matchmaker: The Evolution of Wes Sims
Before I start, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to read my article on TopMMANews.com. Hopefully, you will find the weekly articles interesting and entertaining.
My start in MMA began in 2002 by covering UCC events for MMA Weekly. I had obviously seen MMA on TV, but I fell in love with the live MMA experience. It did not start well. I went to the UCC and there was no pass waiting for me at the door. Eventually I got in and called in live results to the late Ryan Bennett.
The first fight I saw live was Joe Doerksen vs. Denis Kang. To this day, I have to say it was one of the best rounds I have ever seen. Was it really that good? Who knows? But that fight got me started on my love of MMA and ultimately cost me a lot of money. The first person who spoke to me at that event? Justin Bruckmann. Seven years later, Justin is still a great guy and one of the people I enjoy working with. At this point, I do not think it will happen, but I have always hoped Justin would fight for me one day.
On this night I got introduced to Georges St-Pierre, Pain Peters, Ivan Menjivar, David Loiseau and the rest of the UCC fighters. Back then, things were very different as this was long before the wave of TUF fans came on board. Was it better back then? I still have not decided yet.
The Evolution of Wes Sims….
As many of you probably saw, Wes Sims lost his fight on Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter. Trying to stay relevant, I thought it would be a good time to talk about my experience with Sims when he fought for me at APEX: Genesis on September 5th, 2004.
One day I’ll explain how complicated it was to put together that first event. One man who helped save the show was Wes Sims. He was a last minute replacement for Stephan Bonnar (yes, that Stephan Bonnar) and was scheduled to fight Ricardeau Francois. Sims was fighting for the first time since his three UFC fights; two of which ended in controversy. He was a hot commodity for the smaller shows and I thought it was a great coup to get him on our show. However, I went from first being excited to thinking I helped organize a homicide to ultimately believing I may have ended a man’s career.
Francois is a fighter out of Montreal, who had an 8-2 record at the time of the fight. An extremely tall (6’6) and skinny fighter, Francois was an awkward opponent for anyone in the 205 division. Not knowing him that well, I thought he was someone who cut weight to make the Light-Heavyweight division. I later found out he didn’t… at the weigh-ins. I do not remember the exact weight, but I think Francois weighed barely over 200 pounds; under the Light-Heavyweight Division limit. Sims came on the scales at a much larger 250 plus pounds. For that one day, Montreal felt like Japan.
Despite complaints by rival promoters, the fight was on. I did not feel any concerns, until both fighters were introduced and made their way to the ring. At that moment, all that played in my head was a clip the UFC used of Wes Sims power bombing a fighter in a MMA fight. I had a quick couple beers and just watched; worrying that I may have gotten someone seriously injured. I kept a close eye for the exits and wondered where I left my passport. That was a feeling that I never want to feel before a fight ever again. And maybe because of this fight, never have.
Sims came into this fight on very late notice and obviously out of shape. The matchmaker may or may not have done a good job convincing his manager that this was a very winnable fight. Long story short, Sims did not look his best in this fight. Sims was hit by awkward blows and was eventually stopped in the second round with a spinning back kick to the gut, followed by a right that dropped him for good. Francois was the original giant killer and took out the much larger Wes ‘The Project’ Sims.
To this date, no other fight I have been a part of ever made as big a buzz. The internet was shocked that Sims could lose to a Jimmy Walker lookalike. Their words, not mine.
I felt awful.
Sure, we liked the publicity, but to this day, Wes Sims was one of the nicest guys who ever fought for me. I expected an asshole who did not give a crap about anyone. But the Sims I saw on TV, stomping on Frank Mir’s head and talking shit all the time, was not the guy I met in Montreal. He was a genuine, good human being, looking to make a name for himself. His charisma could make him extremely popular either as a face or his choice; a heel. He played the bad guy with great ease.
At that moment, I felt someone I had gotten to know a little bit and liked quite a bit may be at the end of the road. I felt like it was my fault.
That feeling went away quickly. Five days later he was fighting in Cleveland and in the next couple months fought twice more in Hawaii. I guess it must have been my rookie promoter naivety. I realized that in MMA, if people know your name, there will always be promoters who will ask those big name fighters to fight; just ask Mark Kerr.
Sims must remember that fight in Montreal, but I doubt he remembers me. Despite that, I always wanted to see him do well. I felt he would do very well (personality wise) on TUF and heard rumors that he may have even gotten to the finals. It looks like that will not be the case, but I hope he gets another shot in the UFC and does well with it. He was good to me. That’s all I can ask for.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed a look back into history…