Prominent mixed martial arts agent Ken Pavia has been accused of illegally passing on trade secrets to Bellator Fighting Championships, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and World Extreme Cagefighting.
The suit, first reported by Yahoo! Sports, names Pavia and Bellator as defendants and asks for unspecified damages and a permanent injunction barring Pavia and Bellator from using Zuffa's intellectual property.
Pavia, who represents near 50 clients through his firm MMA Agents -- including 18 to 20 under contract to Zuffa, such as welterweight contender Martin Kampmann, and another 12 to 15 in Bellator -- declined to comment on the record about the suit.
The rationale for Zuffa's claims comes in the form of an e-mail, attached as an exhibit in the complaint filed in Clark County District Court, sent by Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney to Pavia on July 4: " ... you've been great about sending us 'All' of the seminal docs from the UFC, so that we can re-do them and implement them for Bellator."
Pavia is alleged to have shared "promotional agreements, bout agreements, sponsorship forms, extension letters, injury forms, and the like."
Rebney referred all inquires regarding the lawsuit to Bellator's attorney, Patrick English, who confirmed that Pavia disseminated documents to Bellator.
"I have seen the e-mail that prompted their concern," English said. "Frankly, it's a legitimate concern in terms of the way the e-mail is raised. But I think when we talk and I just go through exactly what was said, this will not be an issue at all. I can tell you nothing was said that would be a competitive advantage to Bellator or put UFC at a competitive disadvantage."
English, a New Jersey-based attorney with over 30 years experience in the boxing business, described the documents as "mundane kind of things that are passed down to 45 different people at every UFC event."
"The purpose of the documents was basically so that Bellator could take a look at them and see if any were applicable to the shows they were doing, and if so modify them accordingly," said English.
Bellator has not used any of the documents provided by Pavia, according to the attorney.
Zuffa hired Donald Campbell and Colby Williams to litigate its case against Pavia and Bellator. Campbell and Williams handled proceedings for Zuffa against Randy Couture, and recently beat back a breach of contract suit filed by Ken Shamrock.
"Don Campbell and Colby Williams are very smart and tough litigants," said Sam Spira, who represents Couture. "They serve their client's well and do not file frivolous complaints. If indeed the accusations in the complaint are true, Pavia may have some very serious issues to deal with. These contracts are like works of art -- they are developed over time and represent thousands of hours of attorney time as well as years of business experience. They are not just your run of the mill forms."
Bellator, which features a tournament-based format and is broadcast on Fox Sports Net among other networks, entered the business in 2009, and commences with its third season Aug. 12 in Hollywood, Fla.
"Our focus is exactly where it was last season at this time," Rebney said. "Nothing's disrupted it. Nothing's gotten in the way."
Nine months after the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against Jason Genet alleging the Arizona-based MMA manager helped perpetrate a "pump and dump" manipulation of common stock, Genet consented to a final judgment in June that will cost him just over $2.5 million, according papers released by the regulator Monday.
The suit, filed last September in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York, alleged that from at least 2004 through 2006 Genet helped China Energy, a now defunct company, falsely obtain a listing on the Nasdaq National Market System; engage in unregistered distributions of securities; and enter into "secret arrangements to give away China Energy stock to persons who agreed to purchase China Energy stock in the market, and thereby created the false and misleading impression of active trading and interest in China Energy."
Per the terms of the final judgment, Genet neither admitted nor denied the allegations. However he is required to pay a civil penalty of $130,000, disgorgement in the amount of $1.7 million (representing profits gained as a result of the conduct alleged in the complaint), plus interest to the tune of $697,745.57. Genet was also barred from participating in any offering of a penny stock for a period of five years.
Genet continues to represent MMA clients such as highly regarded heavyweight Shane Carwin and WEC lightweight champion Ben Henderson through his Tempe, Ariz.-based firm, Magnetic Marketing Associates.
Reports surfaced this week that Impact FC, an upstart MMA promoter based out of Australia, failed to pay several fighters following events during consecutive weekends in July.
Ken Shamrock is not among them.
The veteran fighter, now 46 years old, was compensated per the terms of his contract for a fight in Sydney on July 18 against Pedro Rizzo, Shamrock's attorney Rod Donohoo told SI.com on Friday.
Attempting to pick up on the success of the UFC's visit to Australia in February, promoter Thomas Huggins connected with financial backer Andrew McManus, whose group of companies have been recently embroiled in a salary cap scandal involving the Melbourne Storm of Australia's National Rugby League.
The events, featuring Rizzo, Josh Barnett, Karo Parisyan and Paul Filho among others, failed to draw at the gate, pulling in only an estimated 1,000 fans to a card in Brisbane on July 10.
MC Hammer is stepping into the fight management business. Though after this past week, the three-time Grammy Award-winning musician may want to reconsider.
Alchemist Management, a management, promotion, marketing and brand-building firm for MMA fighters, was officially launched Friday.
Hammer, Alchemist Management's CEO, named Lex McMahon as president, and Nima Safapour as vice president of business affairs and general counsel.
"I've been a fan of combat sports for years," said Hammer in a prepared statement. "MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world and this is a great opportunity for us to launch a full-service management company. Alchemist Management will leverage its relationships and resources for the benefit of fighters, the sponsors, and the industry at large."
The group, based in Los Angeles, has already signed a significant stable of fighters, including Nate Marquardt, Tim Kennedy and Vladimir Matyushenko, who fights Sunday on Versus against Jon Jones.