Behind the Cage – ShoFIGHT 20

Behind the Cage – ShoFIGHT 20
Written by HR Jimmy Baker

On June 16th, 2012, a legendary event took place in Springfield, Missouri. Dozens of
UFC, Strikeforce, PRIDE FC, King of the Cage and Bellator Veterans traveled to the
O’Reilly Event Center for ShoFIGHT 20. It was a great night of MMA featuring one of
the best fight cards in the history of the Midwest.
The Event was featured LIVE on FIGHT NETWORK in Canada, and was available in
the USA on PPV. Fight fans from around the world tuned in to watch as Kendall Grove,
Karo Parysian, Ronda Rousey, Roli Delgado, Shonie Carter, Mike Brown, Joe Riggs,
Drew Fickett, Charles Krazy Horse Bennett and many other legends of the cage were
on hand at this stellar event. One of the most intriguing stories of this event however,
was never told, until now.

I visited with ShoFIGHT CEO and Promoter JT Tilley in his office in Branson, Missouri
and listened as he told me the story he and his staff had kept secret for over a year. As
he explained in great detail what had occurred, he continuously would grab his cell
phone and verify his facts for me by allowing me to speak to numerous UFC veterans
and Sanctioning Officials who all vouched that his statements were correct. I was
shocked as one by one, his statements were verified with complete certainty.

ShoFIGHT had promoted 19 Successful Amateur MMA Events in Southeast Missouri
and had cemented the promotion as the most successful organization in the history of
the region. Tilley was approached by a local businessman by the name of Travis Elliot
with an idea to promote a high profile card.
“…Mr Elliot had approached me wanting to do a pro event in Springfield, MO. He was
willing to provide the budget and was interested in putting together the biggest show in
the history of the area. He had tried to promote and amateur show a few months earlier
and when things weren’t going according to plan, he brought ShoFIGHT in to help put
the event together. We did “ShoFIGHT 18: No Regard” at the Shrine Mosque and he
was very pleased with the result, so we decided to promote “ShoFIGHT 20” as the
organization’s first pro event.”
This was no ordinary event. With the help of Mr Elliot’s funding, Tilley and ShoFIGHT
pro Matchmaker Dallen Gettling put together a stellar fight card and fans took notice.
Press from every major MMA news site covered the event and dozens of high profile
fighters clamored to be included on the card, but days before the event, Tilley received
bad news;
“It seemed that our investor had not fully disclosed where our funding was coming
from. We began to get suspicious when we were given thick stacks of cash to arrange
the show instead of checks or bank draws, but by the time we realized what was
happening, it was fight week and we received news that http://www.justice.gov/usao/mow/news2012/franklin2.ind.html

As the stars of professional MMA began their journey to SE Missouri, Tilley and
Gettling shared concern that the funds to pay the 30 fighters competing on the card
would possibly be unavailable. “It suddenly became very difficult to contact Elliot,”
Gettling added. “When we finally reached him he assured us he would find a way to
make sure the fighters would be paid and we had no choice but to believe him.”
The event was incredible, I was on hand as Kendall Grove defeated Derek Brunson to
become ShoFIGHT Middleweight Champion and Karo Parysian lost to John Gunderson
in a Welterweight Title Bout. After the event, the fighters began approaching Tilley
asking for their pay. “Travis had told me he preferred to pay the fighters himself which
was not an issue for me. I would send each fighter to Travis and he would cut them a
check. After the show he disappeared and many of the fighters had not been paid yet. I
called to try and get him to return to the venue to pay the rest, and he told me he’d meet
us at the hotel lobby shortly.”
Tilley informed the fighters to meet him at the Lobby of the Universal Plaza Hotel
where they were staying but Mr Elliot was a no show according to UFC Veteran Jason
Reinhardt, “…I stood in the lobby of the hotel with JT Tilley, several of the unpaid fighters
and John Morgan of MMAjunkie.com, who had worked with me as a commentator at the
event. Tilley called repeatedly and was given the run around by his investor. We waited
in the lobby of that hotel until the sun came up the next day. He never showed up.”
Reinhardt continues, “…at 6am, several of us had to leave to catch our flights home.
Tilley took us to his hotel room and wrote us several thousand dollars worth of checks
from his personal account so that we would not leave the event empty handed. He
wrote checks until his account was empty but there were still fighters left to be paid
when we left.”
“Later that morning Travis finally arrived at the hotel where I had been dealing with
several unpaid and upset UFC veterans. Not a good feeling. He wrote the remaining
fighters each their checks and we concluded our business,” explained Tilley. “I returned
home exhausted but with a sense of relief that they had finally all been paid. ShoFIGHT
20 had ended and we were proud of what we had accomplished.”
Monday morning however, things changed. ShoFIGHT began receiving calls from
Fighters and Management that the checks were being returned unpaid. “I received an
email from Kendall Grove’s mgmt, The check to Kendall Grove bounced. I knew we
were in for a rough day,” Gettling explained. Soon Strikeforce vet Derek Brunson posted
on Twitter that he had also been given a bad check.” One by one the fighters began to
contact ShoFIGHT claiming their checks were being returned.
“This was our worst fear come true. We did not want to go down in history as the
promotion that held such a legendary card and then did not honor the agreement to pay
the fighters,” Tilley added. “We contacted Travis Elliot, but his response was, Sorry, I
don’t have the money.” The promoter and matchmaker spent the next five weeks
communicating daily with each unpaid fighter and their management, many of whom
were losing patience.
“My wife and I even considered taking out a second mortgage on our home so that
we could pay the remaining fighters and avoid the embarrassment to our organization,
but that did not work out, then slowly Elliot began to pay those fighters who had been
given bad checks. Little by little the bad checks were satisfied, and Mr Elliot stopped
returning our calls.”
UFC Veteran Roli Delgado was one fighter who was never issued a check. “I was
injured at the event and had to be taken to the hospital, so I was not paid a the show. I
contacted Mr Elliot and was told I would be sent payment. Weeks passed and I never
received a check. I continued to call and message Travis Elliot but he eventually
stopped returning my calls and blocked me on facebook. Tilley did everything he could
to assist me and when it became clear that Travis had no intention of paying me, he
wrote me the check from his personal account. He made arrangements with me and did
everything he said he would. I respect him and consider him a friend as a result.”
As I sat in Mr Tilley’s office and listened to him tell the story of what had happened, he
continuously would contact the fighters and have them verify his facts. I spoke directly
to several of these fighters and listened to them as they explained what great effort he
had put into ensuring they were paid. “I’ve had many UFC veterans call me asking how
they can get on ShoFIGHT cards because they have heard what a great honest guy he
is,” adds Reinhardt.
ShoFIGHT continues to perform as a leading organization in the Midwest and has
produced a total of 30 events in Branson, Missouri and surrounding cities since April of
2009. Their shows can be viewed at GFL.TV via iPPV. Visit them online at
www.shofight.com for more info.

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2 Comments

  1.  It is nice having that one person you can tell anything to without being judged by your actions. Those are the people you keep around. That is the kind of person JT is. For people to say, and do these things are terrible. He has done nothing but run his business fairly, making sure his fighters have the proper training, and he has the upmost respect for each and everyone of them. He should be getting that back in return. Stand your ground JT. We are all here for you. Shirley.

  2. First of all every single word on this article is true and exactly how everything went down. I’ve been in the sport since the beginning and started martial arts at the age of 9. (No breaks) Martial Arts is my life. With that being said, throughout the years ive seen guys like the Travis Elliot’s of the world jumping on the MMA bandwagon with nothing but dollar signs in their eyes. Do you really think Travis Elliot gives 2 shits about “the fighters” or the fight fans? When someone shows you what kind of man they are, believe them! If you don’t, shame on you.
    J.T. Tilley on the other hand cares so much for the fighters and our sport like nothing I’ve ever seen. And ive seen a lot. He is a man of ethics and in my opinion this Elliot goon couldn’t hold JT’s jock on his best day. I feel I’m a pretty good judge of character and the min. I looked in this Travis Elliot’s eyes, I felt a bad vibe and negative energy. I knew we were all in trouble. I was promised by Elliot that I would be paid for my services and stayed up all night waiting for his drunk ass to drive to the hotel to pay me. He showed up finally drunk acting and acting like he was daised and confused. He knew exactly his responsibility. Consequently JT pays me out of his pocket which was not the agreement. I actually felt terrible for JT, as I know what it feels like to be scammed and lied to.
    In closing, all anyone needs to do is ask 1 simple question to themselves? Who has a proven track record with always doing the right thing and promoting amazing MMA shows over all the years? J.T Tilley! That’s who! It sure hasn’t been this Elliot clown. The bottom line is, JT promotes awesome events and takes care of the fighters without LIES and Bullshit. This Travis Elliot saw the nice respectful shows J.T. Promotes and wanted in on it. J.T. Trusted and believed in this guy to make his shows even bigger with the proper funding.
    In my opinion, snakes are great at biting “at the right time”. Travis Elliot is a fucking snake who tried biting at the right time! (When the show was over and it was time to bust out the checkbook) He got the hell out of there and left all of us holding our peckers! It’s that simple. The proof is in the pudding (as the ol saying goes) Look at JT Tilleys track record. Now go look up Elliot’s. What the fuck has Travis Elliot ever done for our sport? Absolutely Nothing!
    But at least Elliot didn’t fake a heart attack and get rushed to the hospital after the show like this one promoter did to us fighters back in the day just so he could get out of paying. Jason Reinhardt

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