October 21, 2016
The Boston Globe reports that former Bellator MMA fighter Jordan Parsons was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Parsons, who died after he was struck by a vehicle while as a pedestrian in May of this year is the first known case of an MMA fighter suffering from CTE.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist, disclosed the diagnosis. Dr. Omalu first discovered CTE with former NFL football player Mike Webster after he passed away. It led to the investigation of CTE in other NFL football players and eventually the lawsuits related to the discovery. Dr. Omalu was portrayed by actor Will Smith in the movie, “Concussion.”
Currently, the WWE is defending a lawsuit brought by former contracted wrestlers related to CTE. Of the claims, it believes that the WWE knew of the dangers of performing but allowed its contracted workers to continue with stunts that caused head trauma.
Parsons’ diagnosis is ominous for Bellator and the UFC as they need only look to what has gone on with lawsuits in the NFL, NHL and WWE. Certainly, Parsons is just one case, but it could lead to further investigation with former fighters that might bring legal action against promoters.
October 18, 2016
Georges St-Pierre’s legal team has maintained that the former welterweight champ’s contract with the UFC is over due to the company’s breach per an ESPN report.
After GSP proclaimed that he was a “free agent” in an interview Monday on The MMA Hour, the UFC rebutted the statement with one of its own stating that he was still contractually obligated to fight for the company.
GSP’s lawyer, Jim Quinn of the law firm Weil, Gotshal and Manges out of New York, maintains that GSP’s contract is terminated. He indicated that the UFC could take legal action or offer a new contract to the fighter.
One of the issues GSP’s lawyers contend that caused a breach was the lack of fights given the St-Pierre. His lawyers state he has never received an actual bout agreement. St-Pierre’s lawyers gave the UFC 10 days to offer St-Pierre a fight. According to his laweyrs, the UFC responded on the final day in which it offered St-Pierre former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. But that did not come to fruition.
GSP’s current contract was signed in 2011 per ESPN. Of course, the UFC has evolved since then. Notably, as pointed out in the story, is that the UFC has Reebok as its official clothier. Also, fighters are no longer able to have outside sponsors (aside from official UFC sponsors) to promote during fight week. St-Pierre had (or has) a deal with Under Armour in addition to other non-UFC sponsors.
Although not mentioned in the ESPN story, the UFC anti-doping policy came into effect in 2015. It’s not known whether GSP signed an addendum to his contract binding him to USADA testing.
It appears we may have a new legal dispute on our hands. To be fair, GSP’s lawyers gave an artificial deadline (unless a 10-day deadline to settle this type of dispute was set forth in GSP’s contract) for the UFC to offer St-Pierre a fight. But, it seems that the UFC could have made strides to keep GSP either by offering a fight and/or come to a contract extension under new financial terms. Whether or not an actual bout agreement is mandatory as an offer for a fight appears to be a big question in this legal dispute. We will see if the parties will attempt to resolve the situation short of a lawsuit.
October 18, 2016
The UFC has responded to claims that Georges St-Pierre is a free agent. Not surprisingly, the UFC denies claims that GSP is free from his contractual obligations from the UFC.
On The MMA Hour on Monday, GSP declared that he was a free agent per his attorney. His claim was that the UFC did not provide GSP with a fight and as a result his contract was terminated.
In a prepared statement, the UFC responded later in the day:
“Georges St-Pierre remains under an existing agreement with Zuffa, LLC as his promoter. Zuffa intends to honor its agreement with St.-Pierre and reserves its rights under the law to have St.-Pierre do the same.
It looks like we may be heading to a legal dispute over GSP’s contract. The declaration of a terminated contract by GSP was reminiscent to Rampage Jackson’s claim that he was free from Bellator’s contract due to not fulfilling certain things within the contract. As you recall, a lawsuit occurred and was subsequently settled. You can bet that the UFC would oppose GSP from fighting in another organization if it boils down to it. GSP’s lawyers seem confident that there was breach of the contract, and/or an unmet requirement within the contract which allowed for the termination. We will see if the parties can come to a resolution prior to litigation.
October 17, 2016
MMA Fighting reports that Nevada’s Athletic Commission’s executive director Bob Bennett has clarified the fine assessed to Conor McGregor from his bottle-throwing incident. He states that the fine is $75,000 and not the $150,000 as previously reported.
Despite the fact that the $150,000 number was indicated at an open hearing of the commission, Bennett clarified that the fine was $75,000 and the value of a public-service announcement McGregor must do for the commission is valued at $75,000.
McGregor reportedly made $3 million from UFC 202 not counting undisclosed bonuses or PPV points.
The state attorney general originally recommended a $25,000 fine, 25 hours of community service and media training. The commissioners believed that amount was not enough.
McGregor was not a fan of the $150,000 fine stating that he would not fight in Nevada in the foreseeable future.
The backtracking to clarify the fine and then blame media seems like a mishandling of the situation by the NSAC and a way to reduce the fine without drawing an appeal. The $75,000 value seems like it was pulled out of the air without any evidence that a PSA would cost this much.
October 14, 2016
Jon Jones will be the first UFC fighter to have an arbitration hearing pursuant to the UFC anti-doping policy. His hearing is set for October 31st according to MMA Fighting.
Jones’ hearing against USADA will be held in Los Angeles. The hearing is based on his positive drug test which pulled him out of his unification bout against Daniel Cormier three days before UFC 200. The fighter, beset with a multiple out-of-octagon issues, denied knowingly taking any illegal substance. The Nevada Athletic Commission revealed that the banned substances found in Jones’ samples were hyrdoxy-clomiphene and Letrozole, anti-estrogen agents.
Jones faces a maximum one-year suspension from USADA.
Unless there is a last-minute settlement between the parties, this will be the first and last arbitration under the current UFC-USADA format as the company sent a letter to all its contracted athletes detailing new procedures for the USADA appeals process. Just a few months ago, Jones seemed upbeat about a possible return sooner than later. We will see if that holds up at arbitration.
September 28, 2016
MMA Fighting reports that a disgruntled Jose Aldo is talking about taking the UFC to court if he is not released from his contract.
According to a Combate report, Aldo has talked to a lawyer about his legal possibilities. He has six fights left on his existing contract.
Aldo was angered that the company passed him over for a title shot against Conor McGregor at UFC 205. Instead, the UFC chose Eddie Alvarez as the opponent for the Featherweight Champion. McGregor has not defended the title since he defeated Aldo this past December.
Dana White indicated that he would speak to Aldo and his team and would not terminate the contract.
The prospects of Aldo suing the UFC to get out of his contract are probably slim. Rather, the talk of lawsuit is posturing so that White and the UFC grant Aldo some concession. Whether it is monetary or he gets to pick his next fight and opponent, I would suspect that the UFC would be willing to negotiate with Aldo rather than deal with another lawsuit.
September 21, 2016
MMA Junkie has obtained the NSAC complaints against Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor as it relates to the dustup between the two and Diaz’s camp at the UFC 203 pre-fight press conference.
As you may recall, the press conference ended abruptly after McGregor showed up late and Diaz left soon thereafter. Verbal exchanges were made and water bottles were thrown. The NSAC has filed complaints against the two.
The complaints, which mirror one another, cite NAC 467.885 which governs discipline for licensed fighters within the state. It also cites NRS 467.158 which gives the commission the power to penalize a licensed fighter up to $250,000 for “disciplinary action [that] does not relate to a contest or exhibition of unarmed combat…” Since this was a press conference, the commission would use this rule to govern the altercation. It also cites NRS 467.110 which allows the commission to suspend or revoke the license of a fighter.
Look for these two complaints to be settled and/or a stiff fine for both Diaz and McGregor. Do not look for a suspension of any kind. In reality, the commission will not want to suspend either fighter unless its known they will not fight in the state for the next 6 months or so. While there is a need to penalize the two, it’s clear that the commission will not want to harm itself by suspending two of the top grossing fighters for the UFC.
August 18, 2016
The water bottle flinging episode which ended the UFC 202 press conference on Wednesday provided some buzz for an event that lacks previous big fights. But, will Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor be punished for their actions.
If you have not seen the press conference, McGregor showed up about 30 minutes late to the press conference. Diaz, Anthony Johnson and Glover Texiera were present and on time. Shortly after McGregor made his appearance, Diaz left with his team. Shouting and finger gestures were exchanged and that’s when the throwing of objects began.
Things just got real between Diaz and McGregor at the UFC 202 press conference. pic.twitter.com/cxD8yYBl4W
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) August 17, 2016
According to the NAC 467.885(5), the Nevada Athletic Commission “may suspend or revoke the license of, otherwise discipline or take any combination of such actions against a licensee who has, in the judgment of the Commission:
- Conducted himself or herself at any time or place in a manner which is deemed by the Commission to reflect discredit to unarmed combat;
The UFC Code of Conduct states that the company can impose discipline for “Conduct that imposes inherent danger to the safety or well-being of another person.” In addition “[c]onduct that undermines or puts at risk the organization or promotion of a UFC event, including without limitation, failure to deliver, engage in or otherwise execute any and all promotional responsibilities…” Also, “Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the UFC.”
You can say that McGregor and Diaz’s actions yesterday were violations of all of the above. While it may have been an indirect way to promote the fight Saturday, it put at risk those that were nearby.
The news conference ends crazily with Diaz leaving room and his camp throwing things, including a tape roll that hit Conor’s girlfriend arm
— Lance Pugmire (@latimespugmire) August 17, 2016
Short plug, I was on with Josh Nason of The Wrestling Observer and we talked about the press conference in depth as well as the UFC 202 card.
I don’t expect the revocation of a license but a fine will likely occur. What will be interesting the commission hearing which will likely happen as a result. Obviously, there’s a part of MMA fandom that likes to see this intensity. But, when does it become sideshow, not sport. I understand that this is a part of the promotion but the throwing of objects can carry liability if a bystander were to be hit or injured.
August 12, 2016
With the news that the Professional Fighters Association is seeking to organize UFC Fighters, it has drawn the concern of long-time organization Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association.
According to a Forbes piece on the issues, MMAFA is taking issue with the fact that PFA did not reach out to its organization. MMAFA has been on the front lines of trying to organize fighters. Rob Maysey, one of MMAFA’s founding members, is quoted in the Forbes piece that they question PFA’s motives.
Maysey’s firm is one of the plaintiffs’ firms currently involved in the UFC antitrust lawsuit in Las Vegas. MMAFA has several current and former MMA fighters involved in the organization.
One of the concerns is that PFA is led by an agent, Jeff Borris, who has represented baseball players. As argued by Maysey, there is a conflict of interest with agents representing individuals and secondly the inherent competition with other agents will make it hard for other agent-represented athletes to join. In addition, PFA’s exclusivity to UFC fighters (it has stated it is seeking to organize UFC athletes), may hurt other organizations.
This was inevitable. The business of organizing MMA fighters. While Maysey makes salient points, there’s the obvious issue that he is partial to MMAFA since he is/was a part of the organization. Aside from these two organizations, there are other groups that are seeking to organize fighters. While this should be good for fighters overall, one can’t help but foresee an internal struggle between groups as to how to organize and what steps are best in ensuring better wages for fighters.
August 8, 2016
The letter-writing battle between parties in the Wilder-Povetkin lawsuit is heating up as the parties have exchanged terse letters with the court about Wilder’s Motion to Dismiss the Povetkin lawsuit.
For background on the lawsuit, you can look here. Long story short, a bout between Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin set in Russia for this past May was called off by the sanctioning body due to the fact that Povetkin tested positive for Meldonium. While the positive drug test is a factor in the subsequent events that transpired, it was not the key trigger which the parties are seemingly battling over.
At this point, the parties are fighting over Povetkin’s request to release over $4 million in funds lodged in an Escrow Account related to the WBC calling off the fight. Wilder’s attorneys notified the escrow agent not to release the funds. Povetkin’s attorneys claim that this was against the terms of the agreement and as a result it constituted a breach which triggered a liquidated damages clause of $2.5 million. Povetkin’s attorneys also claim that the fight was called off due to the fact that Wilder never intended to go to Russia for the fight. Thus, it was Wilder that breached his contractual duty to the escrow agreement as well as the bout agreement. In addition, Povetkin filed a defamation claim against Wilder and his promoter as a result of the comments regarding failing a drug test.
While the Motion to Dismiss was filed in late July, the court in which the lawsuit is assigned has a rule in which the parties must submit a 3 page letter as part of Pre-Motion Conference prior to filing of a Motion to Dismiss. The letter is to outline the reasons for the motion and give the non-moving party a chance to amend (change based on the argument) the Complaint. Povetkin’s attorney identify this misstep last week as well as arguing its claim to the court.
While Wilder’s attorney gloss over their missteps in a letter to the court dated August 5th they take direct aim at Povetkin’s attorneys for its substantive arguments to the Court. Povetkin’s attorneys responded to the letter and requested a Pre-Motion Conference.