Hawn settles sponsorship dispute

January 28, 2013

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator fighter Rick Hawn has settled his dispute with a sponsor that did not pay him after his fight January 17th.  Hawn took to twitter to let his followers know of the issue.

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney initially covered the $1,500 due Hawn from clothing sponsor HTFU apparel.  The sponsor has now paid Hawn although he plans on donating the $1,500 to charity.

Via MMA Junkie:

…Hawn tweeted a portion of an email from [HTFU’s Mark] Gingrich informing him payment had been stopped on the check, which was part of a sponsorship deal verbally negotiated five days prior to the event by his representative, Mike Russell.

There was no contract between Gingrich and Hawn, though Russell said a series of emails and Facebook messages constituted a formal agreement and threatened to sue when the check was voided. Gingrich threatened legal action in response.

Gingrich and Russell agree the sponsorship’s value was $3,500 – $1,500 by check and $2,000 in HTFU apparel – but disagree on what was promised in return.

Gingrich expected that Hawn’s corner would wear HTFU apparel but only one of the cornermen did so.  He also expressed disappointment that Hawn “snubbed” him after weigh-ins.  

Payout Perspective:

Here is an example of how social media helped deter a lawsuit.  Its also an example of why verbal agreements are not a good idea.  There was a misunderstanding between Hawn’s rep and the sponsor regarding how much visibility HTFU would receive.  While Hawn’s tweet made it seem as though HTFU stiffed Hawn, there might have been a genuine issue regarding what Hawn was supposed to do for his sponsor.

The sponsors pay for the fighters and their corners to don its logo especially when the camera is on them.  This is the reason why you see cornermen rush to put on a shirt on their fatigued fighter or flip on the hat of their sponsor before the camera shows them during the decision.

One of the down sides of social media is that although Hawn’s tweet brought up the issue to the public (and to Bellator), it also brought Hawn’s other sponsors to question.  When I first saw the tweet, Hawn did not name the sponsor he had a problem with so people were left to speculate.  I actually watched Hawn’s fight again to see which sponsor it could be.  This could be an issue with Hawn with future potential sponsors.  As for HTFU, it indicated that it would not sponsor another MMA fighter.  This may be a case of not knowing what to expect in sponsorship of an MMA fighter.

2 Responses to “Hawn settles sponsorship dispute”

  1. BrainSmasher on January 29th, 2013 10:04 AM

    Clearly HTFU was wrong and come off looking bad. The guy was looking for a trying he could fine to get out of his deal. There are many times a fighter don’t get his shirt or hat on or doesn’t get to thank a sponsor and you never hear of the company stopping payment or making a big deal like this. It was very childish and poor public relations to handle this the way HTFU owner handled this. Knowing this was a hand shake deal and short notice he should have been more understanding. Especially over something just a few of the cornerman didnt do and not the fighter himself. The owner himself admitted money wasn’t an issue and it was the principle. So because his ego he became spiteful in dealing with this situation that was t a dig deal. Most respectable people would have worked something out for the fighter to do to compensate or even just not work together anymore. But there is no excuse for how he handed this. If you read the guys entire comment to Hawn. He goes on to mention every excuse he can to keep the money. Eve. Bring up how bad he fought and him losing and what he wore backstage when fight have no idea if or when they are on camera which is why it is seldom part of a sponsorship deal.

  2. Machiel Van on January 29th, 2013 12:11 PM

    I could possibly understand paying Hawn a little less if he feels like he didn’t fulfill a small portion of their agreement, but attempting to not pay him at all was unacceptable.

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