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Saturday side suplex: Contracts not assignable for you!

By Zach Arnold | March 30, 2007

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The Sioux City Journal reports that Marc Ratner is not happy about the Iowa Senate’s decision to deregulate MMA. The bill’s top sponsor says he passed it because politicians couldn’t agree on whether or not to ban MMA in the state.

A very interesting card lined up by DEEP for their 4/13 Korakuen Hall show in Tokyo. Top matches include Satoru Kitaoka vs. Fabricio “Pitbull” Monteiro, Ryuta Sakurai vs. Murilo Bustamante, and Yasuhito Namekawa vs. Yuji Sakuragi.

Josh Barnett discusses his feelings about the UFC/PRIDE deal. Audio here (it starts at the 1 hour mark).

What did you make of the comments made by Josh Barnett? When he was asked on the audio show if there was a chance that he could become a free agent, his first response was “perhaps.” Barnett then added that there are some things that tie him to the PRIDE company.

Speculation, not hard-news portion of post

Josh touches on a point that I’ve been ranting on (and getting heat about) since last week about Zuffa LLC buying out the PRIDE assets from DSE.

Just asking: Does Barnett’s “half a contract” comment indicate that the PRIDE fighter contracts are not assignable (meaning they can’t be transferred to a third party in a sale)? If so, does this not mean that the fighters are technically free agents? Furthermore, do you think Zuffa LLC would like the fighters and agents in PRIDE to smarten up and assume that everyone may be a free agent… or to continue to (rightfully or wrongfully) claim that UFC owns PRIDE fighters outright through their current contracts?

Just asking (again): Will people inside the MMA industry, the fight media, or the mainstream media pick up on the fact that perhaps the PRIDE deals are not assignable and that the ‘dream match-ups’ being thrown around may not happen after all? That would be a buzzkill now, wouldn’t it? Rival promoters – start opening up your checkbooks and sign these guys now?! My opinion is that Zuffa isn’t likely going to say anything publicly in the media to give PRIDE fighters any leverage if in fact these PRIDE contracts are not assignable. It’d create egg on their face for spending the amount of money they did on the transaction and also question the due diligence process.

FWIW, the ‘not assignable’ contract situation is something that Ed Fishman came to understand and learn shortly after he had interest in buying out PRIDE. Commenter Body Shots responds to this item.

Today’s media links

  1. The Halifax Daily News: Hollet, Francois go toe-to-toe at Extreme Cage Combat V tonight
  2. Market News First: IFL claims they have increased their audience size by 60%
  3. The Helena Independent Record: Helena Havoc 2 draws thousands at Helena Ice Arena
  4. CBS Sportsline: An interview with Josh Koscheck
  5. Ground & Pound: Interview with Calvin Ayre
  6. CBS Sportsline: Questions and answers with Kelly Perdew
  7. MMA HQ: Want to be Melvin Guillard’s corner man?

Topics: All Topics, Canada, IFL, Japan, Media, MMA, PRIDE, UFC, Zach Arnold | 34 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

34 Responses to “Saturday side suplex: Contracts not assignable for you!”

  1. Chris says:

    Judging by the Calvin Ayre interview, it doesn’t sound like he has Fedor down to a long-term contract; I’m sure if he did, he’d be bragging about it.

  2. Mike says:

    Uhh, what’s with the bolded “rival promoters” line there, Zach? Someone sure wants to see Zuffa fail at this enterprise to prove themselves right…

  3. Zach Arnold says:

    If bolding text highlights an observation… guilty as charged. 🙂

    I have high skepticism, but no personal animosity towards UFC or Zuffa on the ‘new PRIDE’. However, it would be unfair if fighters and agents are told one thing when the situation may be different than the picture being painted.

  4. Body_Shots says:

    Josh didn’t say his contract wasn’t assignable, he used the phrase that there’s alot of things that have to be negotiated on. Which makes sense, (Greg) Savage reported that Josh doesn’t have a certain amount of fights in contract at all, just a length. It could be the case that each of his fights need to negotiated.

  5. Zach Arnold says:

    Josh didn’t say his contract wasn’t assignable, he used the phrase that there’s alot of things that have to be negotiated on. Which makes sense, (Greg) Savage reported that Josh doesn’t have a certain amount of fights in contract at all, just a length. It could be the case that each of his fights need to negotiated.

    You are correct. My observations (and it is speculation, not hard-news) are that Zuffa is going to start combing through the fighter contracts and realize that the transition process is not entirely smooth. With that stated, if Josh has a contract with PRIDE and it says “X amount of time for X amount of dollars” and the deal is transferrable, then I don’t see what there is to negotiate.

    Unless you are right, Body Shots (and I would give you full credit on it), that the deal Josh had with PRIDE didn’t set a price per fight or specify how many fights in a certain time period. That would be quite a headache for Zuffa to find out that some of the contracts have those stipulations.

    It seems pretty clear to me that Zuffa can afford to pay Josh what he wants to fight in the new PRIDE, but he may not want to work for them and may want to work with BodogFight instead. If he does that, what would it say about the validity of his PRIDE deal?

  6. Body_Shots says:

    About Fishman, he never got close to buying PRIDE, his lawyers never got to look over their (PRIDE’s) paper work or their fighter contracts, Sakakibara and him never got that far in negotiations.

    Him saying that he would of found something fishy about PRIDE, or that the fighter contracts might be personal service contracts are purely conjecture on his part.

    He does not know, those questions never got answered for him because he was never a serious candidate to buy the company.

    Everybody knows how I feel about it, this deal has been in the works for months, which is more than enough time for the Fertitta bros to do due diligence, and to look over the fighter contracts.

    I do know if rival promoters start going after these guys MMA will be flooded with lawsuits and injunctions up the wazoo.

  7. Harold says:

    i think it will be funnier the longer it goes with zach still trying to pretend that he wasnt wrong about due diligance still not being done, this was in the Wrestling Observer website post:

    “–A quick note regarding the Fertitta Brothers buying Pride. The reason a lot of the future seems to be vague is because it is. Now that the purchase is done, they are going to start formulating a battle plan on how to work it.”

    notice the words now that the purchase is done, not a handshake agreement like zach tried to say it was yesterday

  8. Mike says:

    Underlining all the comments sure is a visual distraction.

  9. Xavier says:

    Calvin Ayre is such a tool. He just needs to go away.

    What an idiot, and whoever interviewed him has to be on the payroll. What, not one question about “Hey, so uh… how about the United States government wanting to arrest you?” means that was a total shill job.

    Must be nice to get positive publicity, wonder how much it costs.

  10. Jason Bennett says:

    These past two weeks have been driving me crazy. Everyone wants to speculate and look in their crystal ball to predict the future regarding all of the recent announcements (or lack thereof) but the truth of the matter (my preference over speculation) is that no one knows much of anything yet.

    The Fertittas are excellent, successful businessmen and I’m certain that $65 million would not be spent with much chance they could lose the fighters right away; to entertain even the idea is naive really. If these contracts are not assignable, then that would make them pretty poor businessmen wouldn’t it. It seems to me that is why Pride will remain ‘intact’ for now. The contracts could still be enforceable because Pride is still in working order. While I’m certain many details are to be worked out, you can count on this deal being well worth the money spent to get it.

    But personally, I’m rather burnt out on every site’s idea of what’s happening behind the scenes; too much like Fantasy Mogul to me. Zach Arnold has been on the money over the past year with many factual reports regarding the downfall of Pride but regarding the sellout and transfer of ownership, I’m afraid he’s as much in the dark as other MMA journalists. All speculation and little to no facts.

    All of this talk is fodder to me until more hard facts come out down the pipeline. Within a few weeks we’ll all know much more.

  11. Lynchman says:

    Zach Arnold Says:

    March 30th, 2007 at 10:41 pm
    Josh didn’t say his contract wasn’t assignable, he used the phrase that there’s alot of things that have to be negotiated on. Which makes sense, (Greg) Savage reported that Josh doesn’t have a certain amount of fights in contract at all, just a length. It could be the case that each of his fights need to negotiated.

    You are correct. My observations (and it is speculation, not hard-news) are that Zuffa is going to start combing through the fighter contracts and realize that the transition process is not entirely smooth. With that stated, if Josh has a contract with PRIDE and it says “X amount of time for X amount of dollars” and the deal is transferrable, then I don’t see what there is to negotiate.
    —————————————————————-

    I think that this is exactly what Bartnett’s contact is. Rampage had that same sort of deal. He ended up picking up two more fights with Pride while waiting for his no-compete clause to end.

  12. white ninja says:

    Well for all of you posters who had absolute faith in the due diligence of the Fertitta lawyers; you will be surprised to find out that Shukan Gendai”s reporters have decided to highlight the links between PRIDE”s yakuza owners and the Fertittas (and of course, good old boy Kunio Kiyohara)

    those of you who felt sorry for Sakakiyakuza, might want to start feeling a lot more sorry

  13. white ninja says:

    Well for all of you posters who had absolute faith in the due diligence of the Fertitta lawyers; you will be surprised to find out that Shukan Gendai”s reporters have decided to highlight the links between PRIDE”s alleged yakuza owners and the Fertittas (and of course, good old boy Kunio Kiyohara)

    those of you who felt sorry for Sakakiyakuza, might want to start feeling a lot more sorry

    here comes shukan gendai again (those pesky bastards are trying to stop the yakuza getting their hard earned money from the fertittas)

    http://www.zasshi.com/ZASSHI_SOKUHOU/data/syuukangendai.html

  14. 45 Huddle says:

    Top 3 most angry fighters from the UFC/Pride merger have to be: Nick Diaz, Hayato Sakurai, & Josh Barnett.

    Both Diaz & Sakurai because the switching of the weight classes will honestly hurt their careers. Neither is good enough to be a top level fighter at 170 lbs.

    And Josh Barnett because he basically screwed over Zuffa back in the day to go to Japan. He has to hate this merger. However, where can he go? Who is going to pay him as much as The Fertittas?

    He isn’t a marketable fighter due to his pudgy image. And he doesn’t have much name value outside of the hardcore fanbase. Not to mention that there would be no talent for him to fight outside the UFC/Pride. Lesnar is so green that no good athletic commission would sanction that fight. He could fight Silva, Buentello, or Pele, but none of those fights are top notch.

  15. kobashi says:

    Is there any hope that New Japan will go back in for Barnett?

    Also don’t forget Inoki..

  16. Zach Arnold says:

    There is the IGF deal with Inoki. There is BodogFight and K-1/HEROs.

    My prediction is Josh will end up working out a deal to fight in both BodogFight and HEROs if that alliance holds up. That alliance could pay dividends if Maeda ends up getting Fedor through Red Devil through BodogFight. It’s not improbable.

    I disagree on Barnett not being marketable in the US, but yes – you are right – his value in marketing clearly is much more suited for Japan.

  17. Zach Arnold says:

    In relation to Nick Diaz, this guy seemingly cannot catch a break at all. He beats Gomi in Vegas and then tests positive for Marijuana. The win gave him major stroke to fight Gomi in Japan and now that certainly could be up in the air if Gomi decides to shift to HEROs.

    UFC would be crazy not to sign Diaz up and push him in PRIDE as the crazy gaijin heel. He’d fit in perfectly as a ‘foil’ to a top Japanese star.

  18. The Gaijin says:

    Josh Barnett is not a marketable fighter?? You’re on fucking crack. The guy is an amazing talker, has a good look and fights a VERY exciting style. He’s like Tito Ortiz, but you know, good.

    Chuck Liddell and BJ Penn aren’t exactly “shredded” and their popularity’s doing just fine. I’m so sick to death of American (and Canadian) fans equating looking like a bodybuilder to being an elite athlete.

  19. 45 Huddle says:

    There is a huge difference between Liddell & Penn’s bodies compared to Josh’s. It’s like night and day. And he will never be a like a Tito Ortiz to the American Market.

    Anybody been listening to Sherdog Radio lately? Really skewed interviews by Josh Gross. It’s almost like he is trying to put thoughts into the fighters heads. He makes mountains out of mole hills.

    For example, he will ask a fighter what they think of the UFC/Pride merger. They won’t really think too much of it either way. Then he will ask the question 3 others ways until he can get the answer he is happy with. He is trying to create a story instead of just letting one form on it’s own.

    Plus, he makes a HUGE deal of the fighters not being able to coach in the IFL or Zuffa controlling what the fighters can and can’t do. He acts like this is the worst thing to ever happen to professional sports. It is a joke. NASCAR Racers are banned from having certain type of sponsors. They could be offered tons of money from a cigs company, but NASCAR has rules about who they can take money from. Baseball players can’t make public appearances for other sporting organizations without the approval of MLB. NFL players are required to wear uniforms with Reebok Logo’s on them, even if their own sponsor is NIKE. It is the way the sports world works. Zuffa is doing nothing different then any other major sporting league.

    The fact that Gross doesn’t know this, or ignores it, makes the interviews almost unbearable to listen to these last few weeks. I enjoy listening to the fighters, but Gross want’s to be the center of attention by inciting issues that aren’t even there. The sport has just gotten 10X’s better over the last 2 weeks. But listening to Gross (and even Sherdog himself), you would have thought the sport was going to the crapper.

  20. Drew says:

    I don’t doubt for a second that some contracts are non-assignable, but that PRIDE Worldwide LLC will get the first chance to negotiate with the guys about their contracts.

    Barnett’s contract has to be renegotiated and he said there are things the tie him to the company and there are things that he could use to get out of the contract.

    Remember a year ago that Cro Cop was only doing 1 fight deals with DSE and they were handshake deals to boot.

    In order to keep Arona and Shogun Rua, Sakakibara had to fly to Brazil to renegotiate new contracts, so that’s another indication that their contracts were weak. Subsequently Rua profited as he got offered twice the amount of money per fight.

    Again, I don’t doubt that some contracts are non-assignable, but that the new company will have the first crack to negotiate new contracts.

  21. JOSH says:

    As usual I agree with Gaijin, Barnett is a marketable fighter in the US. He has been successfull in Japan because he meets certain Japanese marketing criteria: 1) he’s white, 2) he’s not ugly, 3) he’s big, 4) he’s willing to and respects the japanese culture and language. Now he may not be a bodybuilder but he is an excellent fighter with a very good style that can make him very marketable in the US markets. The guy can talk (which is a MAJOR criteria in the US), he’s not boring when he fights (another good criteria) and he has a good look. I dont know what u guys look for in a fighter but I guarantee u IF the UFC can look past the past, Barnett can be a major star for them.

  22. Smoogy says:

    Zach said:
    “In relation to Nick Diaz, this guy seemingly cannot catch a break at all. He beats Gomi in Vegas and then tests positive for Marijuana. The win gave him major stroke to fight Gomi in Japan and now that certainly could be up in the air if Gomi decides to shift to HEROs.

    UFC would be crazy not to sign Diaz up and push him in PRIDE as the crazy gaijin heel. He’d fit in perfectly as a ‘foil’ to a top Japanese star. ”

    Sorry, but where is the speculation of a Gomi move to HEROs coming from? I haven’t heard anything like that.

  23. Preach says:

    I’m guessing most of you didn’t see it, but boy, was that Henry Maske vs. Virgil Hill fight great. I would’ve never thought that 43 year old Maske would just shake off the ring rust like he did after a 10 year abstinence from the sport. What Maske and Hill (who’s 42) displayed over 12 rounds should really put many younger boxers to shame. The only sad thing is, that Hill remains champion, since it was a non-title fight. But then, Maske just wanted to egalize the only loss of his career, and he succeeded with that.

  24. zardoz says:

    ok this is way off the subject, but i just finished watching tonights ifl show and first let me say that a least it’s less boring than bodog, second where do they get their info on fighters. during the robbie lawler fight they said at least 3 times that this was lawlers US debut. well if memory suits me correct wasn’t he knocked out cold by nick diaz in the ufc about a year and a half ago? someone needs to get their facts straight.

  25. Zack says:

    Connan Silvera returned to MMA tonight and got a 2nd round TKO win. Hell yea for the old school!!!

  26. Dave says:

    By all accounts this deal was in the making for several months. I refuse to believe that these contracts were not discussed and scrutinized. I understand that there may be some cultural differences, but these guys aren’t successful because they’re completely incompetant. Granted some fighter’s contracts may be weaker than others or some may have special riders, etc., but c’mon.. I spent less than 200K on my house and I went over the thing (and the contract to purchase) with a fine tooth comb.

    Someone else mentioned how unlistenable the Sherdog radio interviews have become. I couldn’t agree more. That whole outfit has become the FOX News of MMA. I’m just thankful there’s credible competition.

  27. The Gaijin says:

    Again 45,

    I’d like you to show me something about Josh Barnett that doesn’t scream HUGE DRAW in North America….

    He’s basically the total package outside of looking like Ronnie Coleman. And let’s face it….his “pudgy look” is still far more athletic than 90% of the US fanbase anyways. The guy is an awesome fighter, has an amazing fighting style (re: not boring), good ground fighter and striker and can really, really work the mic (see his PRIDE announcing to see that the guy could talk for days) and he’s the “White Blonde American Dream”.

    I’m sorry but you reek of “hater” if you cannot see that…BJ Penn is FAR FATTER than JB is … so your points hold little water.

    Josh Barnett (if they ignore the pre-Zuffa steroid scandal) could be a HUGE DRAW for them at HW. He’s a more exciting and more dynamic Randy Cotoure.

  28. Withheld says:

    Assignment provision is only one place to look. There could be a successors and assigns provision as well. Anyway, we shouldn’t assume that a Japan law-governed contract would look quite like a U.S. equivalent, and moreover, let’s leave lawyering to the lawyers.

  29. Liger05 says:

    White Ninja does this mean the yakuza are still very much involved in pride and is a new tv deal likely?

  30. Mateo Suge says:

    I think it is sad that Barnett and Fedor are trying to dog Pride now that UFC owns it. That is pretty sad. There only other option is to go to K1 or Bodog and neither of those two organizations can compare with the UFC or Pride. I think both Barnett and Fedor must not want to be the best if they are going to try with all their power to get out of fighting in the new Pride.

  31. white ninja says:

    liger05

    yes the yakuza are still very much involved in the fight game and no tv station in japan will touch PRIDE – with or without the fertittas

    sakakibara (for his alleged boss ishizaka) controls –

    – production (all of those hugely expensive pride sets are done by Sakakibaras production company). in fact, it was due the debts for this production that morishita got into debt – which subsequently led to his death

    – ticket distribution – sakakibara controls the expensive ticket (VIP) distribution, which in PRIDEs case, goes mainly to the yakuza

    – fight agents – most of the major fight agents in japan are part of yakuza groups

    these are open facts in japan – and changing the shell which runs pride does not get rid of the yakuza cancer in this sport

    read about it tomorrow in Gendai : )

  32. The Gaijin says:

    I gotta laugh at all these moronic UFC-nuthuggers who are trying to say Barnett and Fedor “don’t want to fight the best” b/c they aren’t willing to take a paycut or terms that are not on par with what they deserve to fight in the UFC.

    Now that Zuffa has a stranglehold on mainstream MMA do you really think that they’re going to be shelling out the type of money these guys either: A) deserve or B) have been making in the past? Big contracts like they gave to Mirko, Randy and Liddell certainly arent going to be tossed out now that they know they dont have many competitiors.

    Fedor and Barnett proved they are among the best and fought the best over the last 5 years…Your amazing logic tells me that Cro Cop must be a huge pussy b/c he left the very deep HW division that PRIDE had to fight in a very shallow UFC HW division (at the time it happened) b/c he didnt want to fight “the best”.

    Neither statements are true, but apparently it does stop people from idiotically saying them as if they were.

  33. Mateo Suge says:

    I think Cro Cop is smart. He knew the UFC was on the way up and is already being established for the American audience.

    Mirko went from one big name org to another. If Barnett and Fedor go from Pride to K1 Heroes or even worse, Bodog, they are going from a big name org to a very lesser org. So that is a big difference.

    What is wrong with taking a paycut to get established, then making millions of dollars through sponsorship deals later anyway?

    Now I am not too familiar with K1 Heroes. So I won’t bother commenting on them. But this Bodog thing is like the equivilent of a money mark for MMA. The actual product they are presenting at this time sucks. Why would Barnett and Fedor take the big paycheck, when in the long run they will only be blanketing themselves in obscurity?

    I can completely understand wanting to make the most amount of money per fight. But trying to ignore the UFC juggernaut is just inexcusable at this time. Establishing yourself in the UFC brings a type of security that all the start up MMA orgs in the world can not provide.

    Now I really am not too familiar with why Barnett is not welcome back in the UFC, but Fedor is supposed to be the best. And what does he go and do? Fight a non-heavyweight for a Z-grade MMA org? That doesn’t sound like something the best would do to me.

  34. The Gaijin says:

    Fedor E., Barnett, Nog etc. do NOT need to take a lower level contract and “establish” themselves. It’s downright insulting and would show that Zuffa was not willing to actually have the best fighters b/c they are low-balling them and that type of logic is bullshit. It would be a pretty illustration of why people do not like the “monopoly”. People like Leben etc are fighters who need to “establish” themselves. Now that Zuffa owns the DSE library it would take some promo videos and some UFC Unleashed’s to bring “fans” up to speed.

    Barnett ran afoul of the UFC (again I’m unsure if this was under the Zuffa umbrella) b/c he won the HW belt at UFC 36 and subsequently tested positve for steroids. Then he took off to Japan and wrestled (puroresu/pro wrestling) and fought under K-1, Pancrase and PRIDE. I’m pretty sure he didn’t honour his NSAC suspension, but I could be wrong.

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