With the shock announcement coming only yesterday that Chi Lewis-Parry had been pulled from his Heavyweight Title fight against Brandon Vera at ONE FC this coming weekend, #WHOATV were able to catch up with “Chopper” to bring you this exclusive interview.
For those who have not seen the headlines, ONE FC have pulled Chi from the main event and replaced him with Paul Cheng, due to Chi’s failure to submit medicals and drug tests ahead of the fight. Something which he disputes wholeheartedly:
“ONE have NEVER pursued me for drug testing. This time around they requested that I undergo a urine test for detection of use of recreational drugs such as cocaine & marijuana. I completed this along with the standard blood test requirements for HIV and Hepatitis, etc. A urine drug test was completed. These tests were sent to ONE.”
“I am willing to submit a drug test at any time in my camp. This has never been an issue.”
The announcement may have come as a shock to many, however, Chi had seen the signs that something wasn’t quite right about this bout weeks in advance:
“I knew something was up. The lack of solid answers from ONE was making me suspicious more and more each day. They almost speak in riddles to avoid actually giving accurate answers. I was called at the end of last week and told ‘You will no longer be required for the fight’. The exact same words used when I was chasing them up about the press conference.”
In the world of MMA, last minute fight cancellations are unfortunately a common theme, although the way this one has come to light is particularly unusual and unprofessional. Chi believes the reason that ONE FC have targeted him is because he has forced them into a corner and was willing to take out their poster boy, Brandon Vera.
“I honestly believe they targeted me because I forced their hand as a promotion. I MADE this fight happen. I talked and stalked the ‘powers that be’ in ONE. Twice I flew myself to their shows on my own dime, to convince them this was the fight the fans wanted. So for anyone to believe that I was scared is preposterous. THEY pulled ME, remember! Fact is, Brandon makes a lot of money for them. Sells out arenas in the Philippines so they can’t have the odds so highly stacked against him. I feel like they used me because I’m good at selling a fight, then they snatched it from me and gave a lame excuse.”
One of the catalysts behind ONE FC’s announcement may have been a recent interview Chi conducted, during which he announced that he would “throw the belt in a bin” if he won. In hindsight Chi stands behind what he said, being as honest as he could be, believing honesty to be the best policy.
“I’m sure my outspoken manner may have upset a few ears, but I told no lies. I spoke my mind and they didn’t like it. Underneath the persona I am a man first and foremost. A simple human being like you & the rest of the world. There is only so much abuse I am willing to take. I had reached my limit so my thoughts spilled.”
This issue looks bad for both fighter and promotion, and while there is a large amount of attention around this subject, lets not forget, at the end of this, Chi has lost the opportunity to fight and will not get paid. The promotion have had to change their card at the last minute, and will undoubtedly lose some ticket sales as a result. With both sides claiming the other is responsible, Chi has instructed his legal team to take things forward so that he can focus on getting back to the gym and training for whatever his next opportunity may be:
“Contracts are dealt with by my legal team, who are dealing with all legalities as we speak. This will not be brushed under the carpet.”
“If the buck doesn’t stop with me then where does it stop! A stand has to be taken!”
Whist Chi’s future with ONE FC is unclear at this stage, kickboxing promotion Glory have remained supportive of “Chopper” throughout, and it is likely that the next time we see Chi compete will be under kickboxing rules.
“Glory have had my back since day one! They have offered me fights throughout the year which I sadly had to turn down because ONE wouldn’t allow me to compete. One have been a negative cloud obstructing the lights of the bigger stages. I do not feel this has had an effect on my relationship with Glory”
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