Court Denies Summary Judgment Motions in Affliction M-1/Fedor Litigation

June 16, 2011

On June 7, 2011, Judge Margaret M. Morrow denied the parties cross-motions for summary judgment in the Affliction v. M-1/Fedor litigation. I have previously posted about the litigation — most recently here.

The 55 page decision is a VERY interesting read especially with respect to the facts surrounding the “Trilogy” non-event — in particular the discussions and ultimate agreement between Affliction and the UFC.

Below are some of the interesting points — note the chronology.

As set forth in the Court’s decision, at a “July 13, 2009 meeting, Bassiri and Lawrence Epstein, UFC’s general counsel, discussed the possibility that UFC would assume responsibility for the Trilogy show and postpone it to September 19, 2009, in Dallas. Bassiri told Epstein that Affliction Promotions wanted to leave the MMA promotion business and re-establish its relationship with the UFC.”

According to the decision, “[o]n July 21, 2009, M-1 learned from Affliction that the California State Athletic Commission would not renew Josh Barnett’s license because he had tested positive for the use of steroids.”

Then, “[o]n July 22, 2009, Atencio offered [Brett] Rogers $500,000 to replace Barnett as Emelianenko’s opponent at the August 1, 2009 Trilogy event,” but “Strikeforce, with whom Rogers then had a promotional contract, was not willing to release him from his contract to fight in the Trilogy event, however.”

“[O]n July 23, 2009, Strikeforce released Rogers to fight in the event. By that time, however, Affliction Promotions had decided to cancel Trilogy. At 4:00 p.m. that day, Affliction concluded a deal with UFC.”

As set forth in the decision, that agreement provided, in part, as follows:

Paragraph 1 of the UFC/Affliction agreement provided: “[E]xcept for any rights that [Affliction] has with respect to Fedor Emelianenko (‘Fedor’) and conditioned upon [Affliction] . . . assign[ing] the agreements between [Affliction] and the [Affliction] Fighters to the UFC, the UFC agrees to assume [Affliction]’s responsibility for payment of the entire purse of the Affliction Trilogy Event which [Affliction] represents is not in excess of $741,000 purse and $370,000 win bonus. . . .” Paragraph 2 stated that “[w]ith respect to Fedor, in the event the UFC is able to come to an agreement with Fedor on terms and conditions satisfactory to the UFC, the UFC shall assume responsibility for payments of Fedor’s purse for the Affliction Trilogy event or cause Fedor to release [Affliction] from its agreement with Fedor.” Paragraph
6 required that Affliction Promotions cancel the Trilogy event.

According to the decision, “[p]rior to the time M-1 learned of the cancellation, it had put Emelianenko on his scheduled flight to Los Angeles, and given him footage of both Rogers and Vitor Belfort so that he could study the fighters while in flight. Emelianenko did not learn that Trilogy had been cancelled until he arrived at Los Angeles International Airport with thirty fans from Russia.”

Here is the decision:
Affliction SJ Decision


Fight Lawyer

Justin Klein is an attorney at Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke LLP in New York City where he concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and represents clients in the fight industry. He regularly addresses current legal issues that pertain to combat sports, including efforts to legalize MMA in New York, at his Fight Lawyer website. He is a licensed boxing manager with the New York State Athletic Commission as well as the founder and Chairman of the Board of the New York Mixed Martial Arts Initiative, a non-profit organization that gives inner city youth the opportunity to experience the emotional and physical benefits of martial arts training. Justin lives in New York City where he trains in jiu jitsu and boxing.


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4 Responses to “Court Denies Summary Judgment Motions in Affliction M-1/Fedor Litigation”

  1. Jason Cruz on June 16th, 2011 8:47 PM

    Interesting stuff Justin.

  2. Machiel Van on June 17th, 2011 9:37 AM

    So in layman’s terms, where does this case stand now (what happens next)?

  3. Justin Klein on June 21st, 2011 2:58 PM

    Machiel, the case is being sent to mediation — the Judge is trying to see if the parties can resolve, i.e. settle, this thing short of trial with the help of a third-party mediator. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the case will go to trial.

  4. Machiel Van on June 22nd, 2011 7:11 AM

    Thanks Justin, I understand mediation. I’ve been keeping a watchful eye on the whole NFL lockout saga. It just always amazes me how long these lawsuits can drag on.

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