Former manager: Rousey refused to honor legal and moral obligations
California State Athletic Commission director Andy Foster recently ruled that the fight portion of the contract between UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and the management group Fight Tribe was not valid.
Under California Business and Professions Code §18640, the CSAC has the “sole direction, management, control of and jurisdiction” of fighter management contract disputes in MMA and boxing in California.
Specifically, he ruled that Rousey is free of the mixed martial arts portion of her contract. However, he did not rule on the commercial aspect of the contract, which he instead deferred to the Superior Court of California.
According to Sherdog, the contract was dated May 15, 2012, signed January 29, 2013, and granted her manager 10 percent of Rousey’s income generated from fighting, modeling, acting and other commercial activities.
Now former manager Darin Harvey responds, via ProMMANow.
“When I first met Ronda Rousey four years ago, she was destitute and UFC President Dana White was quoted as saying a woman would never fight in the UFC," said Harvey. "I set out to make Ronda a star and prove Dana wrong. The results speak for themselves. Ronda is now a highly sought-after model, spokesperson and actress, not to mention the first and still reigning female UFC champion. She deserves all the credit in the world for her accomplishments, but she never would have achieved such unprecedented success without the unwavering financial investment, career guidance and professional support Fight Tribe Management and I provided her.
"I am not a litigious person, but I never thought for a moment that once she made it to the top, Ronda would turn her back on us and refuse to honor her legal and moral obligations. After months of radio silence and without even giving me the courtesy of an explanation I was forced to go to court to compel Ronda to private arbitration per the terms of our agreement. Before that could be sorted out, Ronda’s legal team ran to the State Athletic Commission, demanded an expedited hearing and tried to get our entire agreement thrown out on a technicality."
Still unexplained is the nature of the disagreement. One of Rousey's Attorneys referenced it, saying only "We agree with the arbitrator’s decision to keep those details out of the opinion and to focus on the law."
Harvey characterized Rousey's position as "pathetic."
"During our four-hour hearing last week, I finally heard Ronda’s side of the story," said Harvey. "Frankly, it’s pathetic and I’m not surprised the Commission chose not to include any of that in their written decision. The Commission did properly reject Ronda’s attempt to invalidate the entirety of our agreement, and I am very pleased with that aspect of their decision. Our case against Ronda will now proceed. I am confident that when all the facts are presented to an impartial private arbitrator, Fight Tribe Management’s contributions to Ronda’s career will be fully recognized and fairly rewarded.”
Rousey's attorney Alexander Polyachenko told Sherdog he believes the matter will be decided in her favor.
"Going forward, we feel strongly that since Darin is no longer going to be her manager, the entire purported agreement should be deemed invalid, since the overall purpose of the contract has been frustrated," said Polyachenko. "However, since such a ruling would be beyond the scope of the CSAC arbitration, we anticipate having to establish that in private arbitration and Superior Court.”
Thus the fight continues, but MMAJunkie obtained the figures involved, and the sums are not the millions that many people assume.
Harvey submitted an exhibit showing that from January 2010 to January 2014, he received $25,608 from Rousey’s fight earnings, $23,180 from pay-per-view proceeds, and $20,830 from sponsorships. In turn, he spent $170,376 on the fighter’s training camps, living expenses and sparring partners, resulting in a loss of $85,818.
The manager argued he is entitled to the “fair market value” of his services from May 2012, when the agreement was first drafted, to the present. The commission, however, said that awarding Harvey any monies “would be inconsistent with the provisions of California law requiring proper written fighter-manager contracts.
“Harvey violated the statutory scheme designed for the protection of athletes, like Rousey, and therefore, Harvey will receive no help from this commission in enforcing this illegal fighter-manager contract.”
Without hearing Rousey's side, it is hard to come to a final conclusion, but the figures illustrate, absolutely, at the very least, that all California managers should make sure their contracts are in compliance with state law.