Former managers of Bellator Heavyweight sue for breaching representation contract

February 15, 2019

The former manager of Vitaly Minakov has sued his current manager Ali Abdelaziz along with Minakov in Orange County Superior Court in California last month.

RusFighters LLC, Minakov’s former agency is suing Minakov and MMA Manager Ali Abdelaziz alleging breach of contract, intentional interference with contractual relations and declaratory relief.  The lawsuit was filed on January 16, 2019 in Orange County Superior Court as one can infer that Bellator’s contract has a clause that all lawsuits arising under the contract are litigated in Orange County.

Minakov has a showdown against fellow heavyweight Cheick Kongo on Saturday night.

According to the lawsuit, Minakov signed a contract with RusFighters to represent him in February 2016.  Minakov agreed to pay RusFighters 20% of the gross “performance compensation” he receives for each fight.  The heavyweight’s former agents claim that the contract ended on February 13, 2019 and he could not retain another agent until this date.

The Complaint states that Minakov signed on with Abdelaziz in August 2018 and he helped the heavyweight sign a six-fight deal with Bellator with a downside of $300,000 per fight with a total minimum value of $1.8 million.

Payout Perspective:

This appears to be an accusation of client-poaching with Abdelaziz working with Minakov without RusFighters knowing.  One need only look to the Leslie Smith/Nate Diaz agent dispute to see that switching agents may lead to disputes. This lawsuit is gaining some notoriety since it includes Abdelaziz, one of the more polarizing agents in MMA (just ask MMA fans).  Without a response yet from Minakov, one might expect that he will claim that the contract with his former agency was oppressive (20% gross) and/or they did not deliver what Minakov wanted.  The 3-year deal between Minakov and RusFighters will certainly be challenged.  The terms (6 fights x $300K per fight) that Abdelaziz allegedly negotiated for Minakov seem to be at the top of end for a Bellator fighter.  RusFighters may have been able to obtain the same terms but that is difficult to know at this point.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

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