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Wild Nevada hearing of Roy Englebrecht reveals Zab Judah Foundation, multiple SSNs used

By Zach Arnold | May 25, 2016

The Nevada State Athletic Commission officially suspended California promoter Roy Englebrecht for 18 months after he provided false & misleading information to the commission regarding information put on boxer Zab Judah’s fighter application form regarding child support he owed to the state of New York. Additionally, Englebrecht will be put on one year’s probation when he re-applies for a Nevada license, ordered to pay attorney fees for his disciplinary hearing, and make restitution to fighters who lost money due to a Las Vegas show getting canceled by the Athletic Commission.

The big question, unresolved, is whether or not California will recognize Nevada’s suspension. Unlike fighters, there is no reciprocity provision mandating state athletic commissions honor promoter suspensions. Given that Englebrecht’s base is California and the majority of his business is done in California, the Nevada suspension is more or less toothless if California decides to ignore Englebrecht’s suspension over acts of moral turpitude.

The war to settle the score

Rarely do you see “liar, liar, pants on fire” anger on display from an Executive Director towards a promoter but Nevada boss Bob Bennett and state AG Caroline Bateman held nothing back in Wednesday’s disciplinary hearing against Roy Englebrecht. They didn’t call him a liar but used as many words as possible to insinuate he was one.

The backstory on paper looked simple:

What Wednesday’s disciplinary hearing revealed was an incredible tale of multiple parties involved in an event collapse built on numerous promises not honored.

According to Englebrecht, he paid the fighters booked on the canceled Vegas card 50% of their purses — $22,000. He also paid for MRIs — $3,300. He also paid back the production company — $6,000. His 8-fight event at The Downtown Las Vegas Events Center was cancelled, worth $60,000.

AG Caroline Bateman charged Englebrecht with perjury, forgery, and ID theft counts in violation of Nevada state law. Attorney and Nevada commissioner Pat Lundvall grilled Bateman over the evidence available, by a clear and convincing standard, to administratively prosecute Englebrecht over three felony counts. Lundvall challenged the standard of demonstrating intent plus an overt act within a specification of four different legal categories.

After Englebrecht’s punishment was voted on by the Athletic Commission, Lundvall stated that she was not comfortable pursuing the felony counts because the record of facts and fact-finding is not currently fully developed but that as facts come out, other authorities (read: criminal) may further pursue action if warranted.

The prosecution side revealed that different Social Security Numbers were allegedly used by Judah on different fighter applications for both 2015 and 2016. Englebrecht claimed that Judah gave him the information over the phone to fill out his 2016 fighter application. There was a claim that Englebrecht had copied information from a prior Judah fighter application to fill out for the 2016 application but it was pointed out that the usage of different SSNs would lend more credence to Englebrecht’s claims of doing paperwork on behalf of Judah without copying prior fighter applications.

The difference in SSNs used in 2015 and 2016 applications along with “a huge discrepancy” in the variation of Judah’s signature on both forms is what raised the red flags to Bob Bennett.

Englebrecht’s defense opens up a can of worms

Two months ago, Englebrecht appeared in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission during a hearing to extend his temporary Nevada suspension until a formal disciplinary hearing was held. At that March meeting, Englebrecht — under oath — admitted that he had made a mistake. I used the term that he fell on his sword.

It turns out that Englebrecht’s attorney, former Nevada Gaming Commissioner Joe Brown, was reading what we wrote carefully because he cited our remarks in front of the Athletic Commission on Wednesday. Brown made the citation to note that Roy had created his own problem in presenting a robust defense due to self-incrimination. Brown did what any good attorney would do in this situation and focused directly on intent in response to the perjury, forgery, and ID theft charges.

Brown said that Englebrecht did not intend to deceive the commission. He said his client filled out a fighter application on behalf of Judah by obtaining information from Judah over the phone in a three-minute call. Judah supposedly told Englebrecht that he did not owe child support. There was a belief that the letter from New York authorities regarding a settlement to pay future fight purses to cover child support owed was a letter that would clear Judah from further legal problems and that the state of New York did not want Judah suspended from fighting. They wanted the money and for Englebrecht to direct the purse money to go to New York authorities. Englebrecht stated on Wednesday that he had received a copy of the New York letter in February and had forwarded it to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Brown said that his client has paid a huge price and “he’s already punished himself.” Roy made “one very dumb mistake” and was humbly before the commission to ask for mercy.

Bob Bennett pulverized Englebrecht and Brown over this remark by pointing out the fact that Englebrecht has continued to run events in California after being suspended in Nevada.

Follow the money

Where the wheels fell off in Wednesday’s hearing was over how much Zab Judah was going to get paid, who was paying him, and where that money was headed.

Englebrecht told the Athletic Commission that Judah was going to fight in Vegas for $5,000 instead of $15,000 and that his manager made a request for Englebrecht to pay the Zab Judah Foundation $20,000. This raised a big problem for Bob Bennett, who pointed out that the opponent for Judah on the Vegas card was going to be paid more than Judah himself — $15,000 — and that the co-main eventers were going to get $10,000 each.

Nevada State Athletic Commission chairman Anthony Marnell remarked that in the two years he’s been on the board, he’s never seen an instance where the A-side fighter was paid less than the B-side fighter. Englebrecht claimed that in order to find a challenger for a world champion like Judah, you have to overpay and that this practice often happens on club shows and that he is a club promoter.

Questions: Did Roy Englebrecht make the side-arrangement to pay Zab Judah money to his Foundation before or after finding out about the New York letter on how much money Judah owed in child support? Would paying money to the Zab Judah Foundation be a way to avoid money being paid for back child support owed?

Englebrecht told the Athletic Commission that as soon as Bob Bennett contacted the Nevada commission chairman about discipline, he (Englebrecht) contacted Andy Foster immediately to tell him what was going on so that Andy wouldn’t read about his impending troubles first in the press.

Bennett accused Englebrecht multiple times of misleading both him and the Athletic Commission. He disputed Roy’s claim that Judah was hard to reach and that he had to work directly with the manager. Bennett said Judah hasn’t fought in two years, has been a fighter for nearly 20 years, and fully understands how the licensing process works and should theoretically be very easy to get a hold of because he (Bennett) managed to contact Judah himself. Englebrecht’s defense to the perjury charge is that he was under a time crunch to get paperwork filled out and processed before the event. Bennett was arguing that the fighter’s medicals were the higher priority.

Bennett also roasted Englebrecht’s claims about an 8-fight card at the DLVEC, stating that the athletic commission had not approved 8 fights for the card.

Then a stink bomb dropped.

In discussing how Roy Englebrecht became a promoter for Zab Judah, Englebrecht disclosed that New York-based promoter Greg Cohen had given Judah a $20,000 signing bonus in 2015 and that Judah was living off of that money. This raised the ire of Pat Lundvall, who asked why this money wasn’t disclosed to the Nevada commission given the money Judah owed the state of New York for child support. Why was this undisclosed?

Anthony Marnell proceeded to go full blast about a conversation he had with ownership of the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center. Marnell stated that a ton of economic promises & deals were made for future televised fights and that none of this was ever disclossed to the Athletic Commission. Marnell also noted a ton of mismatches. He was furious about misrepresentations being made by various parties and insinuated that Mr. Englebrecht was doing the work on behalf of others who were pulling the strings behind the scenes.

The punishment phase

When it came time to debate punishment, attorney Pat Lundvall said that she could not administratively punish Roy Englebrecht for perjury, forgery, and ID theft. Instead, she stated that Englebrecht should be punished for providing the Athletic Commission with false and misleading information.

In essence, she was making her own statement about Attorney General Caroline Bateman overcharging Englebrecht without having enough evidence to match a clear and convincing standard of proof.

Lundvall wanted a two year suspension. Marnell suggested a one year suspension. A compromise was made for an 18-month suspension, which will last until October of 2017. When Englebrecht re-applies for licensure, he will be put on a one-year probationary period where the commission will “put a lot of optics” on how Englebrecht does business in the state.

The question is whether or not Englebrecht bothers to return to Nevada and whether California even bothers to acknowledge Nevada’s suspension given how much money Englebrecht produces for the California State Athletic Commission.

Topics: Boxing, Media, Zach Arnold | No Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Nevada AG officially files legal complaint on Roy Englebrecht for perjury, forgery, ID theft

By Zach Arnold | May 17, 2016

The Nevada State Athletic Commission’s next meeting is on Wednesday, May 25th, and the hammer is coming down on promoter Roy Englebrecht. The Attorney General’s office has filed their official administrative legal complaint against Englebrecht. Amongst the charges outlined in the administrative complaint:

The AG’s office had the option of pursuing criminal charges but opted for the administrative route instead.

During a March 23rd meeting regarding an extension of a temporary Nevada suspension, Englebrecht admitted under oath that he was guilty of the charges being presented against him. The 3/23 meeting was not a disciplinary meeting but he decided to fall on the sword without legal representation present.

The administrative complaint was filed against Englebrecht on May 3rd, giving him 20 days to respond before the meeting on May 25th. Nevada wants action taken against Englebrecht’s promoter license along with investigative costs & attorney’s fees.

The major question after May 25th is whether or not the California State Athletic Commission, which is Roy’s home turf, will enforce Nevada’s license suspension. There’s a lot of money at stake and California is legally not obligated to follow the suspension of a boxing promoter in another state. If California chooses to ignore Nevada’s suspension, it will spark political tension between the two states.

Topics: Boxing, Media, Zach Arnold | 1 Comment » | Permalink | Trackback |

The WBC & VADA have just radically changed drug testing in boxing but what’s the legal fallout?

By Zach Arnold | May 15, 2016

When we last checked in with a boxing doping scandal, VADA produced a positive test result of clenbuterol for Francisco Vargas. The California State Athletic Commission did not suspend Vargas since they weren’t the ones who administered the drug test.

The NFL Players Association came out and warned their athletes not to each too much Mexican or Chinese meat because clenbuterol could show up in their drug test results.

VADA has been trying to get their foot in the door in regards to worldwide drug testing in boxing. They managed to take a page out of the UFC/USADA playbook but on a much, much larger scale with the WBC sanctioning body. The end result is the Clean Boxing Program project, where all fighters ranked 1 through 15 for WBC titles are required to register for VADA drug testing.

The latest fighter to get busted by VADA is Alexander Povetkin, who was scheduled to fight Deontay Wilder in Moscow. Povetkin tested positive for… meldonium. This Bloody Elbow article on meldonium is a good starting point if you don’t recognize the name of the drug.

Povetkin’s camp reportedly claims that the fighter stopped taking meldonium last September. According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, that story doesn’t hold up because Povetkin took multiple VADA drug tests in April and tested negative until April 27th when he supposedly got busted.

The WBC initially “postponed” the fight. Wilder’s camp abruptly ended and he went back home. Now it appears the fight is “off” and will not happen.

We have a lost fight. We have lost purse money for both guys, which means litigation is likely. But the fight was scheduled to take place in Russia. How will money get recovered in the Russian legal system?

The major legal ramifications of the WBC & VADA tag team

It’s highly unlikely that standard American state athletic commission drug testing would have caught what VADA caught with Alexander Povetkin. VADA has an established track record of catching certain fighters (think: Lamont Peterson) microdosing but not getting any sort of results in suspension or canceled fights. The Nevada State Athletic Commission did not want to cancel Peterson’s fight.

UFC changed the landscape by partnering with USADA and unilaterally enforcing drug suspensions. It just happened this past weekend with their mega Brazilian event. The end result has been largely positive. The UFC acts as their own sanctioning body for titles in MMA. Boxing already has sanctioning bodies. The WBC is the most famous sanctioning body of all. VADA attaching itself to the WBC for drug testing has proven to be a genius move… for now.

There are serious legal and business questions that must be asked.

First, we know that the text of the Ali Act specifies transparency for sanctioning body rankings. OK. I couldn’t answer to you how rankings are currently formulated. It’s arbitrary and at the whims of the powers-that-be. Fighters have no say in how they are ranked by the sanctioning bodies.

So the WBC decides to name 15 ranked fighters for each of their title belts. Let’s say a fighter doesn’t want to cooperate with the WBC on the VADA testing and wants nothing to do with the WBC. What statutory authority does the WBC have to punish a fighter other than publicly shaming a fighter in the press and preventing that fighter from fighting in WBC-sanctioned fights? Will the WBC rely on TV networks and business partners to pressure fighters into cooperating with the WBC or else get iced out?

Scenario two: Let’s say Fighter A is scheduled to face Fighter B and both fighters agree to VADA testing but the fight has two title belts from two different sanctioning bodies on the line, e.g. WBC & IBF titles. What happens if Fighter A tests positive? Does the WBC have the power to cancel the fight? What about the purse money involved given IBF involvement?

Second, if Fighter A tests positive for a WBC title fight in a state like Nevada, would Nevada’s athletic commission accept the result of the VADA drug test? They currently don’t. Why would state athletic commissions change drug testing enforcement policy now?

Third, when the money is large and the stakes are high, how solid will WBC’s backbone be? The Wilder/Povetkin fight was on the rocks until Wilder went back home and then the fight was “postponed.” What if Wilder had said that he wanted the fight to continue so that he could earn the purse money?

What will the TV networks backing cable & PPV fights do if they lose multiple fights? Slash boxing budgets further?

Fourth, given the new legal liability at stake with the WBC/VADA drug testing tag team, will there be momentum amongst promoters to avoid booking WBC fights due to fears of getting sued for breach of contract or other economic tort claims when their fighters test positive?

In the name of advancing an agenda for a clean sport, it appears the biggest winners will be the attorneys.

Topics: Boxing, Media, Zach Arnold | No Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Ain’t no fun when the rabbit’s got the gun: why the Fertittas want to sell the UFC

By Zach Arnold | May 10, 2016

The rumors of Zuffa selling UFC have been hot and heavy, thanks to reporting from Front Row Brian. Private Equity firm Blackstone has long been thought to be the primary buyer in play.

So it comes as no surprise that Darren Rovell’s ESPN report about Zuffa getting ready to sell UFC has stirred up passionate responses from all corners. Dana White has issued a blanket denial about UFC being for sale but the Fertitta family has stayed silent.

According to Rovell’s report:

It is believed that Jianlin is the leader in the clubhouse. He’s the richest man in Asia at nearly $29 billion dollars. Given his power in China, you could see why buying UFC would be a seductive investment. He would have the political and business clout to clear hurdles in communist China that others do not possess. No Ali Act to worry about outside of America. A favorable legal situation where fighters simply would not have the cash to fight in international courts.

While Dana White has denied UFC being for sale, he did not deny that Goldman Sachs is representing UFC and he did not deny the $200-250M EBITDA figure.

Why would Zuffa want to sell UFC now?

There are lots of reasons for Zuffa wanting to flip UFC soon.

First, the MMA economy is extremely volatile. One year you have a golden goose and the next year you have a goat.

Second, lawfare. The anti-trust lawsuit is producing illuminating discovery. Depositions are coming soon. UFC is vulnerable. The company is also vulnerable to the kinds of concussion-style lawsuits that plagued the NFL. The difference is that the NFL has already settled their pending cases for a relatively small amount of cash.

Third, the business isn’t as fun of a joy ride as it used to be. The Fertittas put up over $40 million dollars before recovering their investment thanks to The Ultimate Fighter. Ownership has put up with thousands of talent-related headaches that they would have never had to put up with in another kind of sporting venture. UFC was a great way for the Fertittas to meet politicians, celebrities, and rich business leaders. They’ve maxed out on that front. They relied on rich people and entities to do their heavy lifting. There are limits to where they stand internationally.

The fourth and most intriguing reason deals with the Fertitta family wanting to shift into other business ventures. A fascinating connect-the-dots scenario:

The Fertittas just did their Red Rock IPO and cashed out big. Now they’re buying out the Palms in Vegas for $312.5 million dollars. But the real main event coming to Las Vegas involves the Oakland Raiders. Sheldon Adelson wants to build a major sports complex. Mark Davis, the son of Al Davis and current Raiders majority owner, is the poorest of the current NFL owners. He’s going to need cash to pull off the move to Las Vegas. Davis has promised to contribute $500 million dollars to the cause.

What’s a better way to get into the elite business inner circle of the NFL than attaching to the Raiders in Las Vegas? Selling off UFC in order to get a piece of the Raiders is a no-brainer business transaction. It would immediately elevate the political and business clout of the Fertitta family and do so in a sport that produces significantly more revenue with fewer headaches than MMA. From the proverbial outhouse to the penthouse.

It is no coincidence that UFC tried to clean up their testosterone scandals with the USADA drug testing program. It is no coincidence that Dana White has taken a back seat publicly. It is no coincidence that fighters have been strapped into the one-size-fits-all Reebok sponsorship model. Cleaning up the loose ends to sell UFC to a private equity firm is the end game. It will be a great Return on Investment for the Fertittas but it does not guarantee an automatically great result for MMA fans:

It won’t be just the folks in Las Vegas popping the champagne corks. The executives at Spike TV will be throwing their own party.

There will be an exit strategy. Only a matter of how it is structured.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 8 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

The python-like sophisticated legal strategy to choke out Al Haymon’s financial backing

By Zach Arnold | May 2, 2016

Al Haymon envisioned a UFC-like scenario for boxing. As the Zuffa Myth goes, the Fertittas lost $44 million dollars before hitting it big with The Ultimate Fighter. Little did the Fertittas know how much Al Haymon would make their $44 million dollar “investment” in UFC look like chump change. Forget $44 million dollars. Forget the amount of cash organized crime spent in Japanese pro-wrestling, boxing, and MMA. Al Haymon trumped all of them with a $925 million dollar cash infusion into PBC.

Who on Earth would think that pouring $925 million dollars into combat sports would be a good idea? This is the basis of the latest prong in the nationwide legal attack against Al Haymon and the two investment trusts that have gone all-in with him.

First came the plea from the Association of Boxing Commissions to the Department of Justice to go after Al Haymon. Addendum: New ABC president Mike Mazzulli refuted the allegations made in the letter sent by ABC last year.

Then came the unfair competition & anti-trust lawsuits in California by both Golden Boy & Top Rank in Los Angeles Federal court. Haymon’s legal team couldn’t stop the plaintiffs from discovery & depositions, which will surely provide evidence to allow GB & TR to amend their initial legal complaint to add more defendants and more causes of actions.

Now comes the lawsuit against the two trust vehicles financing Al Haymon’s PBC. It’s a shareholder derivative lawsuit, meaning shareholders are suing the trust vehicles they invested money in and they’re doing so based on allegations that the corporation won’t fulfill their responsibility to the shareholders in getting their money back on an investment that supposedly violated the promises made in the investment prospectus.

Read Paul Gift’s article at Bloody Elbow titled $925 million lawsuit filed over investments with PBC’s ‘shady entrepreneur’ Al Haymon. Here’s the zinger from the article:

“According to Waddell’s website, as of Mar. 31, 2016 these six funds now have a total market value of only $357,747,414, which implies that the funds allegedly used to finance the PBC have collectively lost over $567 million in a little less than three years.”

The legal teeth for trying to choke out Al Haymon’s funding

Now I will point out some very interesting items you might want to focus on from this latest legal attack.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: Boxing, Media, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

If the schmuck throwing tacos at Victor Ortiz used a bottle instead, California would be lawyering up

By Zach Arnold | May 1, 2016


Click this image to watch the video of a stooge hitting Victor Ortiz in the face

StubHub Center and the California State Athletic Commission avoided a catastrophic confrontation on Saturday night and should be counting their blessings.

Victor Ortiz was knocked down twice in his loss to Andre Berto on the Al Haymon Fox show. After getting knocked out, Ortiz was attacked by a spectator after the fight. The attacker hit Ortiz in the face with tacos and started a brawl.

You can watch the video of the attack for yourself and spot all the problems:

You don’t have to be a genius to see how dangerous this situation could have gotten. Here is a close-up image of the attacker:


We are offering a cash award to anyone who can provide identification of the attacker

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, Zach Arnold | 3 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

California State Athletic Commission is under no legal obligation to honor third-party drug testing

By Zach Arnold | April 29, 2016

The last two days have been a real test of Executive Officer Andy Foster:

The differences between enforcement of UFC & USADA drug testing versus independent VADA testing are substantial. Athletic commissions do not have to honor third-party drug testing results. California will honor only their drug testing results. UFC made a choice to honor USADA results since they are paying the bill for it. If UFC wanted to stop honoring USADA results at any time, that’s their prerogative. To their credit, they have hung tough and enforced drug testing failures. VADA, on the other hand, is paid for by fighters. In addition to state athletic commissions, promoters also can ignore such drug testing results and not lift a finger. Golden Boy clearly fell into this camp with Francisco Vargas.

I don’t like this situation but I can’t say anything negative about what California is up to right now. The failed VADA test makes Francisco Vargas look like a schmuck.

Francisco Vargas is currently working with trainer Rodrigo Mosquera. Mosquera was suspended in late 2013 for manipulated boxing gloves but managed to work a December 2013 event. Mosquera then went to work a New York fight in January of 2014 while on temporary California suspension. Mosquera was scolded by a California athletic inspector for trying to give a boxer advice from the crowd of a show in Montebello. Mosquera was granted a new license shortly thereafter. Mosquera will be working with Vargas for his June 4th fight against Orlando Salido.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, Zach Arnold | 1 Comment » | Permalink | Trackback |

Hell has arrived for UFC fans: Fox Sports 1 morphing into Fox News with Skip Bayless

By Zach Arnold | April 26, 2016

Fox Sports 1 looks to Fox News for Inspiration

The murder-suicide pact between Fox Sports 1 and ESPN is going to financially reward those who deserve it the least. It’s going to torture sports fans and sports executives alike. ESPN created the fertile conditions for the ugliness ahead and the Fox empire is going to inflame an already polarized playing field.

With fees for sporting events escalating to an unmanageable monstrosity, sports networks are slashing & burning budgets for production staffs while shifting their cash into opinion talkers. Spend less on hard news, more on blather. Go for emotion, tribal identity, and analogies over reason & logic on the persuasion scale. We’ve reached a point in television consumption where Skip Bayless is considered as iconic, if not more so, than Mike Tirico.

UFC is likely going to stay with Fox Sports, although ESPN certainly would have interest under any normal circumstance. We’re not living in normal times. ESPN is bleeding talent. They’re slashing & burning production employees. Disney, which is making money hand over fist, is scared to death of what is going to happen to ESPN in the future. UFC should be a sure-fire target for ESPN acquisition. The acceleration of losing personalities could play either way here for Bristol.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 9 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

To win a labor war with UFC, Conor McGregor must utilize Fox the way Donald Trump has

By Zach Arnold | April 20, 2016

God knows what is really going on behind-the-scenes between Conor McGregor and UFC. It didn’t take a genius, however, to see that McGregor would soon attempt a leverage play for more money and, ultimately, his goal of co-promoting future events. This goes against the entire credo of UFC’s business model.

With no real ammunition left, Conor McGregor had one card to play — retirement.

Nobody is taking the threat seriously. McGregor needs money and exposure. Despite the beliefs of some in MMA media circles, Conor McGregor is not bigger than the UFC. Using the retirement card plays right into UFC’s hands. It ices McGregor out of the sport of MMA. Unless he wants to take his chances and fight in Europe or Japan, UFC will gladly watch him sit on the sidelines like Randy Couture and waste his time. If McGregor does promote his own fight, UFC will easily obtain a judgment against him in the United States and transfer that judgment over to Ireland for enforcement.

You can already see the legal wheels spinning in the minds of UFC executives.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 16 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Book review: Ali vs. Inoki, The Forgotten Fight (Josh Gross) – a buy recommendation

By Zach Arnold | April 19, 2016


Click the image cover to order the book at Amazon

Price: $10.96 USD
Personal rating: 7.5 out of 10 stars
Recommendation: Buy the book

FTC disclosure: I received an advanced book copy last week in the mail for review.

General thoughts

Josh Gross tackled one of the most controversial events in the history of combat sports with vigor and research. His final work product is a 282-page book that is incredible in its scope of information compilation. It took me three days to read the book, go through my notes, and re-read certain sections to absorb all of the details but it was well-worth it.

The book is an easy read but requires some patience and diligence to comprehend the massive amount of history surrounding the Ali/Inoki fight and why celebrating or remembering its 40th anniversary this Summer is so important to the current fight business climate.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: Boxing, Japan, MMA, Media, Pro-Wrestling, Zach Arnold | 2 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Major financial & legal changes coming to the Nevada State Athletic Commission

By Zach Arnold | April 19, 2016

The Nevada State Athletic Commission just got a rude financial awakening. The public agency is being shifted from the state’s general funds to self-funding. As a result of this budgetary transition, Nevada’s commission will now have to pay legal fees to the Attorney General’s office just like California’s commission has to.

At Tuesday’s meeting in Las Vegas, the commission revealed that they have been given a six-figure legal bill for past work from the Attorney General’s office to pay. Additionally, there is grave concern that many of the fighters who get busted for doping are not paying legal fines assessed in disciplinary hearings. Deadbeats. As a result of this problem, it is expected that Nevada will now start asking promoters and fighters for bond money to cover legal fees in prosecuting disciplinary hearings. Also, the commission made it clear on Tuesday that they may end up being more selective in who they prosecute going forward and how they handle legal affairs.

This news cuts both ways. It means Nevada won’t be as inclined to take on speculative disciplinary hearings. Conversely, it leaves Nevada’s commission more vulnerable to lawfare from promoters and fighters who will use the prospect of draining the athletic commission’s budget as a weapon. It happens often in California, especially with sensitive claims such as gender and racial discrimination at play.

Topics: Boxing, MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 2 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Scott Coker & Spike go rogue in backing drug-busted Kimbo & “not-suitable” Sakakibara

By Zach Arnold | April 17, 2016

I often use the word Pyrrhic when discussing combat sports. It means winning a battle but losing the war. Short-term thinking. There’s a lot of reckless behavior in combat sports. You get numb to it.

The perfect definition of Pyrrhic is booking Kimbo Slice in London after he got busted by the Texas Athletic Commission for steroids while nearly killing his opponent in the process. Addendum: Yes, of course, an awful weight cut and bad fight shape contributed mightily to Dada 5000’s health scares.

The perfect definition of Pyrrhic is a promoter and a television network continuing a relationship with a Japanese promoter who was tainted by a negative media campaign as a front man for questionable business dealings and scrubbing such history from your own TV network’s archives.

Why?

In a regular sports journalistic setting, a sports promoter pushing a drug-busted carnival act while freely associating with a business partner that your rival’s investigators labeled as “not a suitable character” would be poisonous. In combat sports, media writers will glorify such behavior. It does not mean that such behavior getting a free-pass is good. It’s self-destructive.

By booking Kimbo Slice and promoting him for a London fight in July, Bellator is daring the Texas Athletic Commission to suspend Kimbo before his July fight. If Texas does nothing, Bellator will promote the fight as planned. If Texas suspends him, Bellator has the option to either keep the fight going or yank it if the political heat becomes too great. On paper, this looks like a no-lose situation. Logically, it looks incredibly stupid and a no-win situation. We’re talking about promoting Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson in 2016 while fighters like Will Brooks are on the sidelines.

Scott Coker & Spike TV just handed public relations gifts to both the Texas Athletic Commission and to UFC. They made Texas – Texas! – look like responsible adults. Or maybe not…

And pushing drug-busted Kimbo Slice makes UFC’s recent fighter suspensions of individuals such as Yoel Romero & Lyoto Machida more legitimate. UFC took the financial hit and suspended fighters who failed drug tests. Spike TV & Scott Coker went in the opposite direction. Bellator chose a Pyrrhic victory. They’ll be promoting the useless carnival fight while sending the subliminal message to fighters that they’re the place to be if you want to not get punished for doping. Fighters First, right?

The message from Spike TV is clear to MMA fighters who are using performance drugs: we’re open for your business.

There won’t be much media pressure right now on the parties involved because most combat sports writers care more about access rather than any other life principle. Tell a story, sell a fight, live the dream. That could very well change once Bellator and Spike TV start doing business in New York and have to answer questions from legitimate media outlets as to why they are booking the drug-suspended Kimbo Slice and doing business with a person like Nobuyuki Sakakibara.

If Scott Coker & Spike TV were the NHL & NBC, NBA & ABC/Turner, or NFL & Fox/CBS/NBC, there would be a five-alarm media fire right now about what’s going on with Kimbo Slice. If the media pressure ratchets up, we’ll find out very quickly if Bellator is willing to die on a hill to defend a business relationship with a person like Nobuyuki Sakakibara. At this point, the only thing Sakakibara offers is an occasional event for booking Bellator fighters in Japan. That’s about it.

As for booking drug-suspended Kimbo Slice in London, it’s awful timing given what recently happened in Ireland with fighter Joao Carvalho. The British tabloids will not be as charitable & forgiving as their American counterparts to Bellator. Hope it’s worth it to the suits at Spike TV.

Topics: Bellator, MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Validation: “the truth” about PRIDE was really “the truth” as you (and UFC) suspected

By Zach Arnold | April 15, 2016

There has always been one critical question about UFC’s purchase of PRIDE’s assets: why did the Nevada Gaming Commission allow the deal to happen?

The Nevada Gaming Commission is extremely tough on business dealings involving questionable individuals and walking acts of moral turpitude. We knew the Fertitta family had extraordinary power but even they aren’t the biggest fish in Nevada.

One of the nagging sub-questions about that asset purchase was this: UFC hired Spectrum Gaming to cover their ass on the issue of “due diligence” with PRIDE. In other words, legal cover for dealing with Nobuyuki Sakakibara and company. When Spectrum Gaming gave cover to UFC for the PRIDE asset purchase, I couldn’t believe it. Why would these entities risk their reputation for that guy even at UFC’s benefit?

The answer: They knew what was up. UFC background check claimed Sakakibara is “not a person of suitable character.”

Paul Gift’s report at Bloody Elbow details some extremely interesting findings if you followed the timeline of PRIDE’s implosion:

The 38-page Spectrum Gaming report on Sakakibara & Dream Stage Entertainment is an amusing read. Some bullet points:

Bottom line? Everyone knew “the truth” going into the business deal. They were all trying to fight each other *after* the deal.

Which raises the primary question we asked a decade ago: Why did the Nevada Gaming Commission allow this transaction to happen and allow a due diligence background check happen *after* the transaction?

Sakakibara sued Spectrum Gaming and UFC. They reached a settlement. He got paid. Everybody got what they wanted. Everybody knew what they were getting into. The regulators didn’t stop the transaction from happening. None of this is earth-shattering information but it does confirm the majority of suspicions you had about what exactly went down and why.

Topics: Japan, MMA, Media, PRIDE, UFC, Yakuza, Zach Arnold | 1 Comment » | Permalink | Trackback |

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