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Exclusive: Big names listed for Fishman deposition

By Zach Arnold | April 27, 2007

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By Zach Arnold

According to a source with information related to the Fishman Companies vs. DSE Inc. lawsuit filed in Clark County, Nevada, Fishman Companies lawyers are reportedly preparing a list of witnesses for future deposition. The source claims that the list has over 50 big-named players in the MMA industry, including all top players in Dream Stage Entertainment, Zuffa LLC, and top Japanese power brokers in the MMA business.

Furthermore, I was told that Ed Fishman (of Fishman Companies) is planning on a tell-all book regarding his experiences with PRIDE and other players in the MMA industry.

While I do not have access to a list of questions that will be asked to witnesses in deposition, I do have a general gut feeling about some of the potential questions that will be asked to the major players in the MMA industry when the questioning process takes place.

Some of those questions perhaps will include the following:

Did Zuffa LLC perform actual full-fledged due diligence when agreeing with Dream Stage Entertainment Inc. to buy the PRIDE assets? Did DSE Inc. have any hidden contracts or asset agreements with other parties that has not been revealed to Zuffa LLC?

When Zuffa LLC entered into an agreement with DSE Inc. to purchase the PRIDE assets, did Zuffa LLC management know about the multi-month negative campaign by Shukan Gendai alleging that DSE was a front (dummy company) for the yakuza? If so, was Zuffa LLC comfortable enough in standing to purchase the PRIDE assets without worrying about what the Nevada Gaming Commission might think of the purchase?

Why did Zuffa LLC agree to keep the majority of DSE staffers onboard for the ‘new’ PRIDE when it was DSE as a company that caused all of the problems due to their association as the producers of PRIDE in Japan (via the Shukan Gendai negative campaign)?

When the first President of PRIDE (Naoto Morishita) was found dead in a Tokyo hotel room (listed as a suicide), why were his ownership shares in Dream Stage Entertainment not transferred directly to his family? How did Nobuyuki Sakakibara (who was managing director at the time) make the seamless transition as President? Furthermore, why did Hiromichi Momose (a man involved in backing KRS and then PRIDE when it transferred over to DSE Inc. in 1999) leave PRIDE (he was visible at most of the pre-2004 PRIDE shows in the front row — shaking hands of fighters who greeted him) after Morishita died?

Why did UFC choose to do business with Ken Imai, who was involved in companies (K-1 & PRIDE) that were at the heart of the two biggest Japanese MMA (kakutougi) fight scandals this decade (the K-1 corporate tax evasion scandal and the DSE yakuza scandal)? How did Imai end up becoming Mirko Cro Cop’s agent (i.e. how did he convince Mirko to jump ship to him from Miro Mijatovic) and how did Imai end up becoming so close to Sakakibara after being close with K-1 boss Kazuyoshi Ishii? Is it true or false that Imai was questioned by police in an investigation over either of these matters?

Are there actual Japanese police investigations into the players involved in Dream Stage Entertainment? Are there any indirect police investigations with other individuals in other cases who may be linked to DSE in Japan? Was there an actual police claim filed by K-1 in regards to that organization being threatened by PRIDE? Are there other parties in other incidents in which they were threatened by DSE that police know of?

Ed Fishman claims that Nobuyuki Sakakibara approached him in January of 2007 and that Fishman offered him a loan of $10 million USD. However, Sakakibara allegedly claimed that he needed $30-35 million USD because that’s how much he owed after losing the Fuji TV deal in June of 2006. Why did so much money evaporate so quickly and where did the money go?

Is it true or false that Japanese authorities are tracing the bank accounts of Dream Stage Entertainment Inc. in Japan? If so, why are they doing this? Who else might potentially have had their bank accounts frozen or watched closely?

Is Shukan Gendai’s claim true that the real mystery owner of PRIDE is a Kansai (Osaka area) yakuza loan shark named Mr. Ishizaka (aka Kim Dok-Soo), who Gendai claims fled to South Korea? If he is not the mystery owner of PRIDE, who is?

How did Yukino Kanda and Hideki Yamamoto, who supposedly had no prior background in the Japanese fight industry, end up becoming top bosses for DSE’s United States office? How did they make the transition from being ‘biochemists’ (as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson called them in a past interview) to becoming the DSE US leaders? Besides signing foreign fighters to contracts, what other roles did they have in the company? What was their relationship with Naoto Morishita as opposed to Nobuyuki Sakakibara? Furthermore, what was their relationship with Michael Braverman (the first producer of PRIDE US events) before they made the switch to Jerry (Gary) Millen for producing events for US broadcasts?

What specific rights did Dream Stage Entertainment Inc. have for PRIDE VTR (video tape library) footage? Did they have free-to-air network broadcasting rights? Did they have the rights for PPV-only? Furthermore, did DSE’s US office pay Fuji TV a per-show fee to broadcast the footage in the United States? If so, what does this say about the specific broadcasting rights of the PRIDE footage produced by Fuji TV?

Are the allegations true about Kunio Kiyohara being close with Nobuyuki Sakakibara? Is it true that Fuji TV conducted an in-house investigation (as Shukan Gendai claimed) against Kiyohara for being associated with top DSE management? Was Kiyohara socializing with the yakuza? What kind of kickbacks or windfalls did he receive from DSE-associated officials for cooperating on their big telecasts? Furthermore, what role (besides being a video producer) did (now) former Fuji TV employee Daisuke Sato have with Nobuyuki Sakakibara? Is it true or false that Sato subcontracted production work out to Nobuyuki Sakakibara’s production company (named Ubon)?

Were the PRIDE fighter contracts that DSE Inc. created the equivalent of personal service contracts? Are the PRIDE fighter contracts truly transferrable to a third party?

What relationship did California lawyer Michael Connette specifically have with DSE? Is it true or false that Connette had an office next to PRIDE VP Sotaro Shinoda? Is it true or false that Connette was questioned by Japanese authorities in any sort of police investigation? Furthermore, is it true or false that Connette changed his law office address with the Tokyo Bar association?

Regarding the role of Michael Connette in relation to K-1 fighter Bob Sapp. Is it true or false that Connette showed up acting as a lawyer on behalf of Bob Sapp in of May of 2006 in Holland at a K-1 event (where Sapp was scheduled to face fighter Ernesto Hoost)? If it is true, was Connette with Sapp to argue for K-1 to release Sapp out of his contract? If Connette showed up with Sapp, was Connette associated with DSE Inc. as their lawyer when K-1 alleges that Sapp breached his fighter contract with them? Is it true or false that K-1 has a lawsuit filed against Sapp for this alleged breach? Also, is it true or false that Connette is Sapp’s lawyer if that lawsuit exists? Furthermore, is it true or false that Connette was acting as a DSE lawyer in a hotel room meeting with Ed Fishman on February 25, 2007 (the day that Fishman alleges that Sakakibara asked him to rip up his 5-year consultant agreement contract with DSE)?

Is the Fishman/Sakakibara 2/25/2007 hotel room meeting true? If it is true, did Sakakibara meet with Zuffa officials the week leading into the PRIDE 33 (Second Coming) event? If true, What were those meetings about? Is Lorenzo Fertitta’s statement true that Zuffa LLC met with Sakakibara in negotiations for as long as 8-10 months to buy the PRIDE assets? What was DSE’s initial asking price for the PRIDE assets versus what was the final offer on the agreement in late March? Furthermore, why did DSE Inc. want to do an asset deal only and not sell shares of the actual DSE Inc. company?

When Fuji TV terminated its contract with DSE Inc. for PRIDE telecasts, what was the specific violation that Fuji TV pointed to in terminating the deal? Furthermore, Fuji TV did not state publicly that they canceled their contract with DSE Inc. because of alleged DSE Inc. yakuza ties. However, is this (yakuza allegations) is the not-so-publicly-said reason for the contract cancellation? Furthermore, if DSE Inc. is/was not associated with the boryokudan (yakuza), why did they not sue Fuji TV for the contract termination?

Topics: Japan, K-1, MMA, Media, PRIDE, UFC, Yakuza, Zach Arnold | 2 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

2 Responses to “Exclusive: Big names listed for Fishman deposition”

  1. [...] (we talk about the latest in the Ed Fishman lawsuit) [...]

  2. [...] April 27th, we reported that Ed Fishman and the legal team of Fishman Companies was preparing a deposition list of up to 50 [...]