The UFC’s Matt Brown failed to make weight today ahead of UFC on Fox 12.  He weighed in at 172.5 pounds, 1.5 pounds above the welterweight limit.  Under California rules Brown was allowed a further hour to try and shed the weight, however, due to a reported ‘miscommunication’ this did not happen.  The details of this miscommunication are worth scrutinizing and create a teachable moment when it comes to regulation of rapid extreme weight cutting in MMA.

In short, after coming in over weight, Fox Sports reports that the California State Athletic Commission’s doctor advised Brown “that he should not continue to cut weight“.  Sensibly, Brown followed this advice and began to rehydrate.  Shortly after this, Andy Foster, the CSAC’s executive officer, told Brown he was allowed a further hour to try and make weight but Brown elected not to do so as his rehydration took him to the point of no return.

When addressing this turn of events Foster is quoted as saying “There’s a difference between advisement from a doctor and a directive by a doctor…We were just looking after his health and safety, but I was going to let him on [the scale again],”

How can ignoring a Commission’s own doctor’s advice be compatible with looking after fighter health and safety?  Worse yet, Foster seems to suggest that Brown should be forgiven for his part in this miscommunication because he was “foggy” from his rapid extreme weight cutting. While Foster is correct that Brown may not bear any fault for this, the comment misses the larger point that fogginess from dehydration is clearly a sign of health impairment and one where feedback from the Commission’s own physician is warranted.

Given the ongoing harm documented by rapid extreme weight cut practices and a Commissions duty to look after fighter safety, the above illustrates exactly what an Athletic Commission executive officer should not do in these circumstances.  Brown, on the other hand, should be applauded for listening to doctor’s advice, even if it fell short of a ‘directive‘.

In the latest chapter of ongoing anti piracy litigation of UFC Pay Per View products, reasons for judgement were released this week by the US District Court, ED Missouri, Eastern Division, assessing damages in default proceedings following alleged piracy of UFC 128 by a commercial establishment.

In this week’s case (Joe Hand Promotions Inc. v. Game on Bar and Grill) the Plaintiff, who enjoyed commercial distribution rights to UFC 128, obtained default judgement agaisnt the Defendant with allegations that they unlawfully displayed the event without purchasing a commercial licence.  Default judgement was obtained with a violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605 and  47 U.S.C. § 553.

Damages of $4,000 for each count were assessed in addition to $2,500 in attorney’s fees and $460 in costs.

It is noteworthy that the plaintiff was seeking damages of $170,000.  In finding the above more modest figure being appropriate the Court provided the following reasons:

Plaintiff has requested the maximum statutory damages available under each statute and argues that an award of enhanced damages is appropriate here because Defendants acted willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage. Plaintiff further argues that awarding the statutory maximum will serve as a deterrent to similar action by other commercial establishments. Plaintiff does not allege, however, the other ground commonly cited in support of maximal damage award: that Defendant has repeatedly violated these statutes. See 47 U.S.C. §§ 553(c)(3)(B) & 605(e)(3)(C)(ii).

Although courts in this district have in some instances granted the maximum amount of enhanced statutory damages to aggrieved parties under §§ 605 and 553, more modest awards are generally found. Compare Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. TL Prods., LLC, Nos. 4:09CV503MLM, 4:09CV1633CAS, 2010 WL 2428031, at *2 (E.D. Mo. June 10, 2010) (finding “knowing violation” and awarding enhanced statutory damages under 47 U.S.C. § 605 of $100,000 and $50,000 under 47 U.S.C. § 553)with Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Thompson, No. 4:11CV1740CAS, 2013 WL 466278, at *3 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 7, 2013) (awarding $13,000 in statutory damages for a willful violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605); J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Sirkco, LLC, No. 4:12CV763CDP, 2013 WL 363355, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 30, 2013) (awarding $3,000 in statutory damages for a willful violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605); J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Diamond Kings, LLC, No. 4:12CV00764AGF, 2012 WL 5330983, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 29, 2012) (awarding $3,000 in statutory damages for a willful violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605); Home Box Office v. Carlim, Inc., 838 F. Supp. 432, 436 (E.D. Mo. 1993) (awarding a total of $3,000 in statutory damages, consisting of $2,000 pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(3)(A) & (c)(3)(B), and $1,000 pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(i)(II)).

Having considered the authorities Plaintiff presents and other applicable cases from this jurisdiction, and the fact that Plaintiff was required to hire auditors and investigators, the Court finds that Defendant acted willfully and that an award of $4,000 per violation under each of the statutes is an appropriate penalty and deterrent here. See, e.g., Sirkco, LLC, 2013 WL 363355, at *2 (awarding $3,000 in statutory damages).

Plaintiff also seeks attorney’s fees of $2,500, $460 in costs, and post-judgment interest. Both statutes authorize the recovery of attorney’s fees and costs and the Court finds the documentation Plaintiff submitted to support its requests for attorney’s fees and costs sufficient and the amount of requested fees and costs reasonable. See 47 U.S.C. §§ 605(e)(3)(B)(iii) and 553(c)(2)(C). In addition, Plaintiff is entitled to post-judgment interest at the rate set by federal law.

Adding to this site’s archived caselaw of Pay Per View piracy decisions, reasons for judgement were released this week by the US District Court, N.D. California, assessing damages for such a claim.

In this week’s case (Joe Hand Promotions, INC v. Tamayo) the Defendant operated a Crossfit gym.  He showed UFC 159 at his facility without paying for the commercial exhibition licencing rights for the event.  The Plaintiff sued seeking significant statutory damages.  The Defendant failed to respond and default judgement was awarded.  Despite this, the Court found that only minimal statutory damages were appropriate as the event was little more than a gathering of friends with little commercial advantage to the Defendant.  In reaching this decision the Court provided the following reasons:

Plaintiff has produced sufficient evidence to prove that Defendant violated section 553, absent any response from Defendant. See Compl. at 4; Affiant Decl. at 1. However, the statutory maximum in damages as sought by Plaintiff, Compl. at 9, is inappropriate. This Court employed the following legal standard in Coyne:

Under section 553(c)(3)(A)(ii), the “party aggrieved may recover an award or statutory damages for all violations involved in the action, in a sum of not less than $250 or more than $10,000 as the court considers just.” The court of appeals has not set forth specific factors to use in determining the appropriate amount of such enhancements. See J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Concepcion, No. 10-5092, 2011 WL 2220101, at *4 (N.D. Cal. June 7, 2011). “District courts have thus considered different factors to determine culpability and to achieve proper compensation and deterrence. These include: use of cover charge, increase in food price during programming, presence of advertisement, number of patrons, number of televisions used, and impact of offender’s conduct on the claimant. Repeated violations may also justify enhanced damages.” Id.

857 F. Supp.2d at 917. Here, Plaintiff’s Investigator states that at most thirty-one people (including three children under age ten) were present during exhibition of the Program, there was no advertisement (there wasn’t even a business name on the front of the establishment), there was one “makeshift screen with a projector,” no cover charge, nothing for sale, “everyone seemed to bring their own food and drinks,” and “[i]t was very much like a gathering of friends.” Affiant Decl. This was not the unlawful commercial gain that the statute seeks to prevent. As to the impact of offender’s conduct on the claimant, Plaintiff is a national corporation that apparently has the resources to be highly litigious (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. has appeared as plaintiff in this district over 40 times). It is unlikely that Defendant’s conduct meaningfully impacted Plaintiff. The Court awards the minimum statutory damages, as it did in Coyne. See Coyne, 857 F. Supp.2d at 918. Thus, the Court awards Plaintiff $250 in damages for the violation of section 553. See 47 U.S.C. § 553(c)(3)(A)(ii).

In addition to the above the Court awarded $750 in damages for conversion for a total award of $1,000.

Update July 23, 2014 – Today the City of Vernon confirmed to me, via Twitter, that they have dropped the intended ban on amateur MMA with the proposed legislation only targeting professional Mixed Martial Arts Vernon City Tweets Re MMA Ban Bill                         ________________________________________________________________________________________________

Recently I canvassed the City of Vernon, BC’s, plans to ban MMA competitions from the City’s borders.  The first draft of the proposed law sought to ban both professional and amateur MMA events.  The proposed ban on amateur MMA is legally problematic and arguably outside of the scope of the City’s powers. Vernon now appears alive to this concern and they are considering a new version of the proposed ban which will only prohibit professional contests.  Below is  the City’s reasons addressing the reasons why the first version is problematic; Vernon Rational on no ammy ban page 1   Vernon Rational on no ammy ban page 2                                   ——————————————————————————————









And here is the wording of the alternative version of the proposed MMA Ban:  

WHEREAS section 59(1 )(f) of the Community Charter authorizes Council to prohibit professional boxing, professional wrestling and other professional athletic contests; AND WHEREAS section 8(3)(i) of the Community Charter authorizes Council to prohibit activities in relation to public health; AND WHEREAS under section 2(1 )(a) of the Private Health Bylaws Regulation (B.C. Reg. 42/2004) a bylaw in relation to the protection, promotion or preservation of the health of individuals must be deposited with the Minister of Health; AND WHEREAS section 8(6) of the Community Charter authorizes Council to control, inspect, limit and restrict business, including by establishing rules respecting what must be done in relation to the business and business activities; AND WHEREAS section 59(2) of the Community Charter provides that before adopting a bylaw under section 8(6) or 59(1 ), Council must give notice of its intention as Council considers reasonable, and provide an opportunity for persons who consider they are affected by the bylaw to make representations to Council;

NOW THEREFORE the Council of the Corporation of the City of Vernon in open meeting enacts as follows: Citation 1. This bylaw shall be cited for all purposes as “City of Vernon Mixed Martial Arts Bylaw Number 5505, 2014″.

Definitions 2. In this bylaw, (a) “business” means carrying on a commercial activity or undertaking of any kind or providing a service for the purpose of profit or gain; (b) “contest” includes an exhibition; (c) “matchmaker” means a person who arranges contests between particular athletes for a mixed martial arts contest; (d) “mixed martial arts” means unarmed combat between two or more persons involving the use of a combination of techniques from other martial arts, including, without limitation, grappling, kicking, striking and holding; (e) “promoter” means a person who carries on a business in relation to mixed martial arts; (f) “second” means a person who assists an athlete between rounds in the course of a mixed martial arts contest or exhibition.

Mixed Martial Arts 3. No person may engage as a contestant in a professional mixed martial arts contest.

4. Without limiting section 3 or other forms of athletic contest, no person may engage as a contestant in a professional mixed martial arts contest if the contest is or relates to a business or business activity.

5. Without limiting sections 3 or 4, or other forms of athletic contest, no person may act as a promoter, matchmaker or second in a mixed martial arts contest if-the contest is or relates to a business or business activity.

6. Nothing in sections 3 through 5 regulates an amateur mixed martial arts contest or exhibition held by or in relation to the business of a mixed martial arts training studio or trainer holding a valid and subsisting business license.

Offences and Fines 7. (a) Every person who contravenes, suffers or permits any act or thing to be done in contravention of, or neglects to do or refrains from doing anything required to be done pursuant to any provision of this bylaw or any notice issued pursuant to this bylaw, commits an offence punishable on summary conviction, and shall be liable to a fine not exceeding the sum of $10,000.00. (b) Where an offence is a continuing offence, each day that the offence IS continued shall constitute a separate and distinct offence.

Severability 8. The invalidity or unenforceability of any provisions of this bylaw shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision of this bylaw, which shall remain in full force and effect.

It is, at this stage, unclear which version of the law will be voted on although it appears they are leaning towards the legally problematic first draft.  I will continue to report on this matter as further details unfold.

Although Performance Enhancing Drug testing has much room for improvement in the world of Combat Sports one thing is clear, the current landscape with more frequent testing including occasional out of competition testing is far improved from from the sport’s earlier years.

Yesterday, Mixed Martial Arts legend Enson Inoue provided a glimpse into the history of MMA Drug Testing by sharing the following clause from one of his PRIDE fight contracts:

Pride Steroid Exclusion Clause




After this was posted on and the authenticity of this clause was questioned Enson confirmed it is, indeed, authentic providing the following comments and linking to video where he takes viewers through his PRIDE contract.

Well there would be no reason for me to make this up… Just, it is what it is.  I was cleaning out my house and the contracts came up.  I am in no way saying that all the fighters were juicing up, I’m jut saying exactly what it is.  There was a clause that said that.  Take it or leave it.



As previously discussed, rapid extreme weight cut practices are a largely unregulated part of combat sports.  These practices come with inherent dangers.  To date, State and Provincial Athletic Commissions  have been largely content to turn a blind eye to this problem with few regulated thresholds addressing these practices.

Recently TopMMANews documented two further examples of the harm caused by these practices.  On June 16 it was reported that

Hopefully Jordan Murray is feeling much better. Jordan had to have emergency surgery on his gallbladder. Here’s what he had to say… “All my weight cutting has finally caught up to me I guess, looks like I have to remove my gallbladder after spending all day in emergency and losing alot of blood the Doctor says its 100% from cutting weight, crazy!”

This week TopMMANews reports another near tragedy noting as follows:

Scary incident for Jer Kornelsen cutting weight for his BFL fight. Here’s what he had to say… “So I passed out and stopped breathing in the sauna trying to make weight. I guess they did CPR on me for a while and I came too in the hospital.. Seriously pissed off and feel horrible. Sorry to my team, Battlefield and mostly my opponent!

If these practices continue there is a tragedy waiting to happen in MMA and when it does the aftermath will land squarely at the feet of the Athletic Commission overseeing the event at question.  Athletic Commissions exist first and foremost for athlete safety.  When a practice develops that is clearly endangering the sports participants Athletic Commissions enter the realm of negligence if they fail to address the situation.  Hopefully commissions are prepared to take note and remember that weight classes exist to protect fighters, not to encourage practices which endanger their health and well being.


The BC Athletic Commissioner has released their post bout drug test results following UFC 174.

The Commission advises as follows:

VICTORIA – British Columbia athletic commissioner Dave Maedel has issued the following
statement about drug testing results received following the UFC 174 match on June 14, 2014,
at Rogers Arena in Vancouver:
“The focus of the BC Athletic Commission is to ensure fighter safety and maintain the integrity
of the sport so athletes are competing on a level playing field.
“There were eight UFC 174 competitors tested on June 14, 2014, for the presence of banned
substances, including the two flyweight title fighters and six random competitors. All
competitors’ test results complied with World Anti-Doping Agency Standards subscribed to by
the BC athletic commissioner, as well as our anti-doping policies.
“In addition to the June 14 tests, Mr. Ali Bagautinov – one of the two flyweight title fighters –
was tested out of competition on June 2, 2014.
“Results received by this office from the June 2 tests on Mr. Bagautinov were positive for
erythropoietin, or EPO – a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. These results
were not available prior to the UFC 174 event due to lab processing times.
“Mr. Bagautinov lost his bid for the flyweight title to Demetrious Johnson.
“I have suspended Mr. Bagautinov’s licence to compete in British Columbia for a period of one
The Province established the Office of the BC Athletic Commissioner in May 2013. The
commissioner oversees the conduct of professional boxing and mixed martial arts as well as
amateur mixed martial arts, kickboxing, muay thai and pankration events throughout the
province of B.C.
The athletic commissioner is committed to the safety and integrity of combat sports in the
province. Legislation guiding the athletic commissioner is the Athletic Commissioner Act. 



Chael Sonnen, who climbed to become one of MMA’s most marketable figures, is experiencing a sudden downfall after failing a drug test for the third time in his career.  The fall out not only led to his retirement from the sport but also to the termination of his broadcasting services agreements with the UFC and Fox Sports.

The simple lesson is that fraud, (yes seeking  advantage through the use of prohibited PED’s without a TUE is fraud) can come with steep consequences.

The above consequences, however, may not be the end.  Fraud, once uncovered, can trigger consequences years after the fact.   After Lance Armstrong’s sudden demise from the elite lofts of cycling, Sonnen leveled the following criticism:

When you screw up, you have to own it. That stuff really gets under my skin. Take Lance Armstrong. Lance Armstrong…He cheated, he did drugs, and he gave himself cancer. Well, instead of saying, ‘Hey listen, I cheated and gave myself cancer, don’t be like me.’ He actually made himself the victim and then went out and profited something like $15 million dollars from this ‘Hey, poor me, let’s find a cure for cancer’ campaign instead of just coming clean and saying, ‘Look, here’s what I did, I screwed myself up, and I hope people learn from my mistakes.’ You just watch these guys and can’t help but think, God, what a fraud.

Sonnen, and the MMA community can learn from Armstrong.  His fraud caught up with him and he paid the price.  As previously discussed, fraud also can stall the clock on limitation periods which can leave the door open to far reaching litigation.  Again the unwitting teacher is Armstrong where the Reasoned Decision of the USADA on Disqualificaiton and Ineligibility held as follows with respect to fraud and limitation periods:

A recent American Arbitration Association decision in a 
doping case addressed both the general principle that an athlete who fraudulently conceals 
doping cannot profit from that fraud by claiming that the statute of limitations has run, and the 
specific situation where the panel suspended the statute of limitation because the athlete denied 
under oath that he had doped. (USADA v Hellebuyck, AAA Case No. 77 190 168 11, Jan 30, 
2012) Similarly, under U.S. law, Armstrong should not be allowed to claim the benefit of a 
statute of limitation where his doping has been concealed, and the judicial process subverted, by 
his lying under oath and other affirmative actions which precluded the earlier discovery of his 
doping by USADA.

If Sonnen built his empire on fraud as Armstrong did, anyone who was financially harmed by his actions can seek to remedy this through civil action.  The clock does not start running until the fraud is uncovered.  If the MMA community ever digs into historic PED test results with the same vigour as the USADA did all ill gotten gains can be undone.

Although the mandatory use of gloves in Mixed Martial Arts was one step which helped bring the sport from its ‘human-cockfighting‘ stigma into greater mainstream acceptance, this requirement likely increased the incidence of brain trauma for the sport’s participants.

Gloves protect fighters’ fists from injuries and reduce superficial cuts to opponents but do little to protect an opponent from brain injury.  Given the greater understanding of the long term harm that accompanies head trauma, I decided to look at objective evidence of the greater rate of knockouts from punches in MMA with the addition of gloves.  In short, the knockout rate from punches increased from 1% to 10% after gloves became mandatory for the sport.  While I appreciate that correlation does not always prove causation this is, at the very least, a compelling statistic.

Methodology -

I reviewed the official results from the numbered UFC events from UFC 1 to UFC 50 as reported on Wikipedia.  Where only a KO was noted with no accompanying information as to the cause of the KO, I reviewed the bouts to determine if the KO was from punches or other strikes.  In the early tournament format UFC’s I excluded any alternate bouts as video footage was not readily accessible to review any ambiguously reported knockouts.  TKO stoppages were not included in this study.

Results -

Gloves became a required part of the sport at UFC 14.  For this reason the study broke these events down into two categories, the events from 1-13, and 14-50.  In the first 13 events a total of 101 bouts occurred.  Of these only 4 knockouts by punches were noted.  However, 3 of these occurred with the winner wearing gloves.  The only bout with a knockout stoppage noted from punches with the winner not wearing gloves occurred at UFC 3 with Harold Howard defeating Roland Payne with a KO at the 0:46 mark.

This leaves a margin of one glove-less knockout via punches out of 98 bouts, a frequency of about 1%.

Moving on to UFC 14 – UFC 50 the data reveals a total of 279 bouts.  Of these 27 ended via knockout noted by punches.  This is a total of approximately 10%, a tenfold increase in the rate of KO by punches.

Removing gloves from MMA will increase the rate of fractured hands and superficial lacerations to competitors.  “Bare knuckle” fighting is also likely to be met with resistance by government regulators so the likelihood of the removal of gloves from the sport is slim.  That said, the above shows that the removal of gloves from the sport can reduce head trauma.  If government and MMA stakeholders review the rules of the sport with brain injury in mind the data is fairly clear that gloves protect the hands, not the brain.

The Prestige Fight Club found themselves entangled in Canada’s criminal justice system after hosting an unsanctioned MMA event last year in Saskatchewan.

Following the event Criminal Charges were laid against two individuals involved for hosting an illegal prizefight contrary to section 83 of Canada’s Criminal Code.  In response the individuals charged sued the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Martial Arts Association, alleging that the SMAA was abusing its powers of oversight of amateur MMA in the Province.

In a press release issued today by Prestige, both the criminal and civil cases have reached a compromised end.  The Criminal charges ended by way of a conditional discharge (meaning a finding of guilt is made but no conviction is registered so long as the judicially imposed conditions are met.)   The conditions are reportedly to keep the peace for 90 days and further a charitable donation in lieu of a fine for several thousand dollars.  The Civil suit has apparently been dropped as well as part of the plea bargain reached with the Government.

It is also rumoured that the Province will strip the SMAA of their ability to oversee amateur MMA in the Saskatchewan.

The full press release reads as follows:


Prestige Fight Club MMA is happy to announce that they have reached a deal with the Saskatchewan Government in regards to charges laid in conjunction with Prestige’s September 28th, 2013 event. Charges stemmed from a new law created with the passing of Bill 209. Prestige Fight Club and the Saskatchewan Government have agreed that a conditional discharge would be in the best interest of all parties involved, thus best thing for the advancement of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the Province.
Presiding Judge Kovatch , states he felt at no time did Prestige intentionally or maliciously try to break the law.

“We feel this is a huge victory for Prestige and for MMA” says Cord Crowthers who, along with Derek Daku, is a founding partner in Prestige Fight Club MMA. Crowthers states, “We have always felt that, if outside observers were given a chance to examine the facts, common sense would prevail and it would be obvious that no malicious intent was meant and no laws were premeditatedly broken.”

The discharge opens up the door for all promotors to move forward on a level playing field, and sets the stage for Prestige to apply for their license to host Saskatchewan’s first all Professional MMA event.

“We want to bring the best possible talent to the fans of Saskatchewan” says Daku. “That means from fighters from Saskatchewan, other parts of Canada and from around the World.” Crowthers goes on to say, “The Prestige Brand will be one of the biggest stages in Canadian MMA, and is looking to give the fans more than they could ever expected from an MMA event here at home!”

The second part of the deal is to start fresh and Crowthers & Daku have taken the initiative in doing just that by agreeing to stay their law suit against the Saskatchewan Government and the Saskatchewan Mixed Martial Arts Association(SMAA). With the same intent the Saskatchewan Government has ask for Prestige’s input in regards to helping with policy , while forming the new Pro Commission regulations and structure. Crowthers stated that their lawsuit was set in motion because “…we had no other option and our backs were up against the wall with the way events unfolded. This discharge, from all charges, allows Prestige to focus on what’s important and we have full expectations the Government wants the same. The goal now is to bring the best possible product to a very savvy market here in our Province.”

If the rumours are true, in regards to time frames, Prestige Fight Club MMA is looking to host their first professional show by the fall. Crowthers and Daku plan to keep the City of Weyburn as the home of Prestige and to host the Inaugural Professional event at Crecent Point Place.

“The city has been behind us from day one and we plan to show them our gratitude in a big way,” states Crowthers.

Prestige Fight Club MMA has hinted that they will be looking at new markets in Saskatchewan in the near future, but when pressed on whether or not they will look outside the Province, Daku says, “only time will tell.”