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Thread: UFC lawsuits and scandals

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  1. #1
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    Apr 2003
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    UFC lawsuits and scandals

    MArk Cuban sues UFC

    The likely promoter of a potential Randy Couture vs. Fedor Emelianenko match was revealed last week when Mark Cuban's HDNet Fights filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Dallas against Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

    The suit is an attempt to get a court ruling on when Couture's contract expires and when he can fight for Cuban, who is best known as the billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, or another non-UFC promoter.

    The suit comes on the heels of Zuffa’s attempt through the Nevada courts to get an injunction to bar Couture from appearing on rival MMA shows, citing a non-compete clause in Couture's employment contract. Couture’s employment contract is separate from the fighting contract, which is the basis for Cuban’s suit.

    "Obviously we're going to address the lawsuit that was filed in Dallas, Texas, in a timely and very direct fashion," said Zuffa attorney Don Campbell. "Our point is that Couture is still obligated to the requirements of the terms of the contract, which are unambiguous."

    Cuban’s HDNet, a television station available in only a small percentage of U.S. homes, has heavily focused on building around MMA programming. Cuban previously made headlines by engaging in talks with Floyd Mayweather Jr., the pound-for-pound boxing king, about potential participation in MMA.

    A Couture-Emelianenko match would likely have more business potential on pay-per-view than any MMA fight not promoted by the UFC. Not only would it possibly put another promotion on the map as a genuine, significant rival to UFC, something many groups have tried to be but none have really succeeded at, but it would answer probably the most important question regarding the future of the sport:

    Is MMA popular, or just the UFC?

    UFC has run numerous pay-per-view cards that have drawn from 600,000-1.05 million buys. No non-UFC promotion has ever done more than 75,000 buys.

    Emelianenko, in particular, has been a pay-per-view flop in North America as a headliner for Pride and Bodog Fight. The Russian fighter, who was long considered the world’s pound-for-pound best, did an anemic 13,000 buys for his lone 2007 match, against Matt Lindland.

    Couture topped 500,000 buys on both of his 2007 UFC matches. A match with Emelianenko will likely show the upper limits of what the best fight possible, without UFC backing, could draw on pay-per-view.

    The 44-year old Couture signed a four-fight, 18-month contract, on January 19, 2007, with UFC. This included a $500,000 signing bonus, half of which was paid upon the signing of the contract and the other half upon the completion of the first fight, the March 2 match where he defeated Tim Sylvia to win the UFC heavyweight title in Columbus, Ohio.

    Between all monies, which included guarantees and a sliding percentage of pay-per-view revenue, as well as a second employment contract, Couture earned about $3 million in his two fights during 2007, along with some other outside work with the company. This includes money from a secondary contract as a company employee, paying him $200,000 per year, which included a one-year non-compete provision.

    On the second contract, it appears both sides agree that when Couture quit the company on Oct. 11, he couldn't work for a rival promotion until that date this year.

    But the fight contract is what is under dispute in the lawsuit filed by Cuban's company. Couture is claiming when the 18-month period expires on July 19, the contract is over, although he has done interviews in the past stating he'll honor the non-compete from the employment contract and feels he can fight again in October.

    Zuffa is claiming that Couture didn't fulfill his contract, and that he owes them two more fights. There is a specific clause in the contract that stated in the event Couture retired, the 18-month time frame is frozen in that he's still bound to the company to fulfill the time frame if he decides to fight again. Couture has never used the term retirement, but used the term resignation. UFC president Dana White has stated that he believes you can't just resign in the middle of a valid contract, and has publicly offered him title defenses.

    Couture is the currently recognized UFC heavyweight champion, although he personally claims he has not been champion since he quit the company. Zuffa has since created an interim heavyweight championship, which Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira won on Feb. 2 in Las Vegas in a match with Sylvia. Immediately after the match, White talked of trying to get Couture back for a match with Nogueira. Couture has been adamant that he is done with UFC unless UFC agrees to do a co-promotion with the M-1 Global promotion, which owns Emelianenko's contract.

    White last year attempted to sign Emelianenko, an offer which included a seven-figure signing bonus and $1.5 million per fight, but the Russian's management turned it down, claiming it was too restrictive. Couture then announced he was leaving UFC, citing his goal was to fight Emelianenko to determine who was the top heavyweight in the world. Ironically, Couture felt disrespected by those terms, because Emelianenko's offered UFC guarantee was much higher than his, and Couture helped build the company and was, at the time of his resignation, the company's most popular fighter.

    Couture was on Cuban's Inside MMA TV show on HDNet on Friday night, where both the lawsuit filed by HDNet Fights and UFC's attempt to file an injunction against Couture appearing for rival groups were discussed.

    He said the fight with Emelianenko was the one the public wants to see and that the sport has to evolve to where the top fighters face each other, regardless of promotional affiliation. He noted that in boxing the rival promotions work together to promote major fights.

    Emelianenko, who is 27-1, is generally considered the best heavyweight MMA fighter. Until recently, he was ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound in the Yahoo! Sports rankings, a ranking he would likely have retained if he had fought even one match against top heavyweight competition in 2007.

    He was the champion of the Pride organization when it was sold to Zuffa last year, and then subsequently was folded. But to some, his stock as the true king and best fighter has dropped because he hasn't faced a legitimate top contender since an August 28, 2005, match in Japan against Mirko Cro Cop. Cro Cop, who was just dropped from his contract by UFC after consecutive losses to Gabriel Gonzaga and Cheick Kongo, is being talked about in Japan as an opponent for Emelianenko in a proposed summer match.

    Zuffa sued Couture and then filed an injunction against him, claiming he has violated the non-compete clause by appearing on rival promotion's television shows to do interviews, in specific shows on Cuban's HDNet.

    They also are claiming it's a violation because the International Fight League has a new team for the 2008 season called Team Xtreme Couture, featuring fighters from his Las Vegas gym. Couture's argument is that the gym, which bears his name, is separate from himself, and that he is not the coach of the team.

    However, the IFL did put a photo of Couture on its web site, briefly, to promote its Feb. 29 show in Las Vegas where Team Xtreme Couture debuts.

    The photo was quickly taken down, but Zuffa lawyers captured a screen image and then filed for an injunction to ban Couture from having anything to do with any rival shows.

    The request for an injunction, filed in Las Vegas, stated, "If Couture is permitted to terminate his employment and promptly take his well-known name and likeness during the restricted period to one, or more, of Zuffa's competitors so that it can be used to promote upcoming events in other MMA leagues, the harm to Zuffa's business goodwill cannot be calculated."

    It has been common knowledge and never a source of conflict in the past when fighters under contract to one organization corner fighters on different shows. Couture has seconded fighters from his gym on shows all over the world, both during his tenure with Zuffa and since his resignation. He was planning on seconding the fighters from his gym at the IFL show, which the injunction is attempting to prevent.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    wow, i didn't realized that the ufc dropped cro cop. i'm not surprised he has had a lackluster showing in the ufc but still, i was always hopeful that he would rebound.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by BruceSteveRoy View Post
    wow, i didn't realized that the ufc dropped cro cop. i'm not surprised he has had a lackluster showing in the ufc but still, i was always hopeful that he would rebound.
    One wonders about his performances...
    One wonders what he will do now that he is "free" of the UFC...
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Prob back to his real day job bro.... member of Croatian Paliment

    The only one there that doesnt need H2H body guards at least LOL.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Swindon, England
    Crocop's signed for the K-1 heroes/son of Pride amalgum "Dream" which was unveiled in Tokyo last week.
    "The man who stands for nothing is likely to fall for anything"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    I'm changing the title of this thread from " MArk Cuban sues UFC" to "UFC lawsuits". If anyone can find any more threads related to this topic here, let me know and I'll merge.

    This is following up on the posts in the How-will-Cung-Le-do-in-the-Twilight-of-his-career thread.

    Fighters claim UFC restricts earnings
    Updated: December 16, 2014, 6:18 PM ET
    By John Barr |

    SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A group of current and former mixed martial arts fighters is suing the company that owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship in what could evolve into a class-action antitrust lawsuit involving hundreds of fighters, according to one of the attorneys involved.

    The lawsuit, the culmination of months of rumors about pending legal action, was filed against Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the UFC, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. It has three named plaintiffs: current UFC middleweight Cung Le and former UFC fighters Jon Fitch and Nathan Quarry.

    Victor Fraile/Getty Images
    Cung Le is the only active UFC fighter named in the lawsuit filing. He last fought on Aug. 23 in China.

    It accuses the UFC of being a monopoly that forces out rival promotions and limits fighter earnings.

    Rob Maysey, a Phoenix-based attorney and longtime critic of what he describes as the "restrictive" labor practices of the UFC, says he has tried for years to warn the world's largest promoter of MMA competitions about the prospect of an antitrust case.

    "I called [the UFC] in 2006 and said, 'You have a choice.' I said, 'You guys are going to recognize a fighters' association or you're going to face an antitrust case," Maysey told "Outside the Lines" on Tuesday.

    "They [the UFC] have become the only game in town and locked down the entire sport. ... At its heart, this lawsuit is about fundamental fairness. The world-class athletes that comprise the UFC are making enormous sacrifices and taking huge risks. It is a basic right that these athletes enjoy the fruits of their labors."

    The lawsuit alleges that the UFC prevents fighters from working with other MMA promoters, profiting from individual marketing deals and signing with outside sponsors, all monopolistic practices that suppress fighters' incomes, according to the lawsuit.

    "The antitrust laws of the United States were designed to prevent any company from dominating a market, artificially stifling competition and hoarding supercompetitive profits. That is exactly what happened here," Maysey said.

    "They [the UFC] control our likeness," said Le, the only fighter currently under contract with the UFC to be listed as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. "They control our career, and that's a choice we as fighters should have. And we don't have that choice.

    "I'm going to represent all the fighters that are scared to take a step up."

    The Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition opened an anti-trust investigation on Zuffa after the purchase of Strikeforce in 2011. The FTC closed that investigation in January 2012 but maintained the right to reopen at any time.

    Le has clashed with UFC management in recent months over a disputed drug test after his August fight in Macau. He was initially suspended for a year after testing positive for elevated levels of human growth hormone, but in October that suspension was overturned when the UFC determined that the initial test results were not reliable.

    After nearly drowning in $44 million of debt as recently as 2005, according to CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, the UFC today is widely believed by industry insiders to be worth north of $1 billion.

    The lawsuit refers to the Las Vegas-based company as a $2 billion outfit.

    OTL on UFC pay

    In June 2012, ESPN's "Outside the Lines" took an in-depth look at the issue of fighter pay. Look back at the coverage from then. Story

    "The UFC is aware of the action filed today but has not been served, nor has it had the opportunity to review the document," a UFC spokesperson said in a statement. "The UFC will vigorously defend itself and its business practices."

    Maysey is a member of one of five law firms that have joined forces in what could eventually be certified by the court as a class-action lawsuit.

    "All UFC fighters are paid a mere fraction of what they would make in a competitive market," said Benjamin Brown, another of the plaintiffs' attorneys.

    "Rather than earning paydays comparable to boxers -- a sport with many natural parallels -- MMA fighters go substantially undercompensated despite the punishing nature of their profession," Brown added.

    Litigation will be long and costly. Maysey pointed out that antitrust cases of this magnitude typically last three to five years and can cost $3-5 million.

    "We're prepared for a very long and tumultuous fight," said Quarry, who retired in 2010 with a 12-4 record, including an appearance on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series in 2005.

    "We have confidence we're in the right."
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    UFC fighter’s Chinese flag snatched away during in-ring victory celebration in controversial move

    Bryan Ke
    2 days ago

    An Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) employee reportedly snatched a Chinese flag that was draped over Li Jingliang’s shoulder as he paraded inside the Octagon after his win against Russian fighter Muslim Salikhov at UFC Long Island on Saturday.

    The 34-year-old Chinese mixed martial artist tried to protest and reclaim the flag after it was taken away by the official, but failed.

    Many on social media were outraged by the new UFC policy, which was enacted in May just days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    “It’s a dumb policy when they are putting the fighter’s flag next to their names during fight walkouts and introductions,” one Twitter user wrote.

    “Stupid rule for no flags,” another user commented. “Just because he’s from China doesn’t mean he agrees with their government, political decisions etc. Let the man represent his upbringing and homeland where he made it out of, in order to become an MMA star in the biggest organization in the world.”

    An Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) official reportedly snatched a Chinese flag that was draped over Li Jingliang’s shoulder as he was celebrating his TKO win over Russian fighter Muslim Salikhov last weekend.

    Li, also known as “The Leech,” was parading around the Octagon after defeating Salikhov with a second-round TKO in UFC Long Island on Saturday when a UFC employee was suddenly spotted approaching the 34-year-old MMA fighter and ripping away his country’s flag.

    The Chinese fighter’s efforts to reclaim his country’s flag failed, sparking outrage on Twitter, with one user pointing out the inconsistency of the new UFC policy.

    “It’s a dumb policy when they are putting the fighter’s flag next to their names during fight walkouts and introductions,” the Twitter user wrote.

    “Stupid rule for no flags,” another user commented. “Just because he’s from China doesn’t mean he agrees with their government, political decisions etc. Let the man represent his upbringing and homeland where he made it out of, in order to become an MMA star in the biggest organization in the world.”

    Speaking to reporters before the fight via an interpreter, the Chinese mixed martial artist said Salikhov is a big name in China after the Russian mixed martial artist defeated several Chinese fighters.

    “He basically owns all the Sanda awards, especially the 2008 Sanda exhibition fight,” Li continued. “So the media has been broadcasting our fight in China because it’s very big in China, me vs. Muslim.”

    It is unclear why the UFC banned its fighters from parading their flags after their matches in May. In a UFC 274 post-match press conference, UFC President Dana White briefly responded to reporters regarding the policy, stating: “You guys know why. Let’s not even play that f*cking game.”

    The new UFC policy came just days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

    Li’s recent win came months after a disappointing loss to Swedish fighter Khamzat Chimaev in October 2021. Before his victory against Salikhov, Li was ranked No. 14 in the official UFC welterweight rankings. Saturday’s performance could reportedly help Li bounce back from his last defeat.

    Featured Image via UFC – Ultimate Fighting Championship
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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