As recently discussed, the Province of Quebec has not legalized professional MMA under the Unified Rules but instead adopted a peculiar cousin of the sport known as “Mixed Boxing“.

Perhaps more interestingly, as John McCarthy confirms, Quebec’s Athletic Commission instructs its officials to ignore their own rules when the UFC comes to town.

John McCarthy Quote Re Quebec MMA

 

 

 

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I repeatedly criticize this situation for the simple reason that if Quebec wants these to be the law of the land they should make the necessary amendments, not instruct government licensed officials to ignore their own laws.

So how many of Quebec’s own Rules were broken during the TUF Nations Finale?  By my count dozens on the main card alone , some of which are capable of overturning the result of the bout which is no insignificant oversight.

While I am not criticizing the combatants or the referees, as they are instructed to ignore Quebec’s laws by the Athletic Commission (the very body created to uphold their combat sports laws), it is noteworthy to document how many Quebec rules are simply overlooked during an MMA bout.  Using the Rules highlighted in my previous post (The Knockdown Rule, No Strikes to the Knee, No Knee or Elbow Strikes, No Standing Chokes or Submissions)  here is the main card breakdown on a bout by bout basis:

Michael Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy

This bout was fairly pure under Quebec rules although there were a few transgressions.  In the first round Kennedy gets Bisping in a bodylock and delivers a few knee strikes to the back of Bisping’s legs in violation of Quebec Rule 195.28(12).  He then delivers a few short elbows on the ground in violation of this same rule.

In the second round we see a flying knee delivered by Bisping violating this rule.

The third round again was fairly clean although there were a few Elbows thrown by Kennedy from the mount and side control positions.

The last two rounds were fairly uneventful save a few more prohibited knee strikes thrown to the back of Bisping’s legs.

Patrick Cote vs. Kyle Noke

The first round begins with Noke delivering a few kicks to Cote’s knees in violation of  Rule 195.13.  From there he delivers a knee from the clinch and a further knee after the fighter’s separate.   Cote then spends much of the time in Note’s guard where Cote delivers a series of heavy elbows and Note responds with a few of his own.

The second round begins with Note dropping Cote with a prohibited knee to the head.  From there he is allowed to continue with strikes instead of retiring to a neutral corner as required by Rule 195.9.  After Cote rises Note delivers both a stomp kick and roundhouse kick to Cote’s knee.  Cote responds and after getting into Note’s guard Cote delivers more prohibited elbows and then knees as Note gets back to his feet.  The round ends with Note delivering more prohibited kicks to Cote’s knees.

The last round saw more of the same in terms of Quebec rules violations with Note delivering a few stomps and kicks to Cote’s knees, Cote then delivered a series of elbows while on the ground and lastly a few knee strikes after Note got back to his feet.

Sam Stout vs. KJ Noons

Although this bout was on the under-card it re-aired during the main card.  For this reason I will include it.  The bout was short but both combatants landed prohibited low kicks to each other’s knees in the opening seconds.  From there Sam Stout was dropped by a significant overhand right by Noons. Noons was not asked to retire to a neutral corner as required by Quebec law and instead was allowed to finish the bout with a series of strikes which followed the knockdown blow.

Sheldon Westcott vs. Elias Theodorou

The bout begins with each fighter exchanging a few prohibited knee strikes.   After a stint on the ground Theodorou rises with Westcott keeping his back who then attempts a Rear Naked Choke from the standing position which violates Rule 195.28(20) and 195.30.  The combatants then exchange a series of prohibited knees.  Each fighter throws at lest one more more kick to their opponents knees.   The second round has a great flurry of strikes to Westcott which ultimately lead to the end of the bout, included in these were a series of elbow strikes which are prohibited under Quebec law.

Chad Laprise vs. Oliver Aubin-Mercier

This bout was largely uneventful under Quebec’s Mixed Boxing Rules as it played out mostly as a pure kickboxing affair.  There were, however, a series of prohibited kicks by Laprise to Aubin-Mercier’s knees throughout the bout along with at least two attempted knee strikes to Aubin-Mercier’s head which appeared to make grazing contact.

Dustin Poirier vs. Akira Corassani

In the first round Poirier throws several kicks Corassani’s knee area all without a discretionary rest period.  Poirer threw a prohibited knee from the clinch.  Shortly after Corasani dropped Poirier with a punch and was not instructed “to retire to the farthest corner”.

Poirier then took Corassani down with a headlock violating the rule against standing submission attempts.  This was followed by a prohibited knee by Corrasani.  Lastly, the bout ends after Poirier drops Corassani with a body shot who then continued to land shots on the downed opponent instead of being asked to retire to the farthest corner.

 

Following the Wyoming State Board of MMA’s statement justifying a combatant fighting after losing consciousness between rounds the Association of Boxing Commissions has stepped in calling for a full investigation of this matter.

The ABC’s press release has just been shared with me and I reproduce a copy below:

 

ABC Press Release

Update April 13, 2014 – The Wyoming State Board of MMA has responded to criticism of the below conduct with the following self serving comments:

All parties, including Mr.Maranhao, believed and stated unequivocally that Mr. Maranhao was medically safe to and capable of finishing the fight….

The Wyoming State Board of Mixed Martial Arts stands by our physicians and officials and has the utmost confidence in their ability to assess the medical status of Wyoming contestants. Safety is the Board’s number one priority and all necessary precautions were taken at the April 11 RFA event to ensure that Mr. Maranhao was safe to continue fighting.

Again, thank you for your interest in Wyoming MMA.

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Bloody Elbow has done a commendable job with continued follow up of this story.

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In what has been described asone of the most shocking, sickening and incompetent moments in MMA history“, a fighter in Wyoming was allowed to continue competing after collapsing from his stool in between rounds at a recent MMA event.

The below GIF (Credit to @ZProphet_MMA of Fansided.com) speaks for itself.

RFA Fighter Collapse Gif

The fighter’s collapse is likely the result of exhaustion, dehydration or the accumulation of trauma.  The most charitable explanation is, perhaps, a dramatic demonstration of loss of the will to continue competing.  However it is interpreted one thing is clear, this combatant should never have been allowed to meet the bell for the next round.

Given that BloodyElbow’s Brent Brookhouse has vowed to follow up with the Wyoming State Board of Mixed Martial Arts to investigate this incident I decided to take a quick look at the regulatory scheme that will be triggered.

The Board exists, in their own words, with fighter safety as their “top priority”.  Appreciating this there are three participants worth scrutinizing, namely the Referee, the Ringside Physician and the Seconds.

Referees are required to hold a licence with the Board.  Under Chapter 11 of Wyoming’s MMA Rules, a referee “shall” stop a contest when a contestant’s “physical conditions so requires” or when a contestant “is not demonstrating their best efforts“.   Under this provision the Referee was required to stop this bout.

Under Chapter 9 of Wyoming’s Rules, no bout shall “continue” unless an approved physician is seated at the ring or cage side.  Under Chapter 9, section 1, Physicians “must be designated by the board“.  This appears to be a lesser requirement than being a licensee making it unclear whether physician’s are subject to disciplinary proceedings by the Board.

Lastly, all seconds must be registered with the Board pursuant to the obligations set out in Chapter 7 of Wyoming’s Rules.  Again, this appears to be a lesser requirement than full licencing which is only required for “promoters, contestants and officials (referees, judges and inspectors)

Under Chapter 1 section 2, both Referees and Seconds agree not to violate any provisions of the Rules.  Breaches of the Rules can result in denial, suspension or revocation of licensure with the Board.  Discipline also appears to be available for non licence holders with the board having discretion to ban individuals who break the rules from attending future bouts.

Whatever the remedy sought, Chapter 12 section 3 sets out the procedures to issue formal complaints to the Board with respect to licence holders.  Anyone concerned about the above ought to follow the procedures set out therein to trigger the Board’s duty to investigate this incident.

 

TUF Nations Finale Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The TUF Nations Finale on April 16, 2014 will legally be governed by Quebec’s Regulation Regarding Combat Sports .  These regulations don’t actually approve MMA under the unified rules, instead the Province has legalized a unique sport known as “mixed boxing”.   As previously highlighted, these call for some significant variations from the Unified Rules.

But there’s no need to worry UFC fans, as you’ll get a familiar show with the TUF Nations finale as the Quebec Commission has a track record of telling officials to ignore their actual rules when the big show comes to town.

What differences do Quebec’s actual rules have from the Unified Rules?  They include the following peculiarities:

The Definition:

195.1.  

“mixed boxing” means a combat sport during which contestants of the same sex fight standing or on the mat; when they fight standing, the contestants use kickboxing techniques unless modified in this Chapter; when they fight on the mat, the only permitted submission techniques are those described in this Chapter.

The Knockdown Rule:

195.9.  Where a contestant has been knocked down, the referee shall instruct the opponent to retire to the farthest corner, which the referee shall indicate by pointing.

The referee may stop the bout and declare the opponent the winner when a contestant is no longer able to defend himself adequately.

No Strikes to the Knee:

195.13.  Where a contestant receives a blow to the genitals or to the knee, the referee may interrupt the bout and allow up to 5 minutes for recovery.

If the contestant does not continue the bout after that delay, the referee shall:

 (1)    following a blow to the genitals, indicate that the contestant has lost by abandonment;

 (2)    following a blow to the knee, disqualify his opponent.

 

The Judging Criteria:

195.18.  The judge shall base his decision on the effectiveness of the contestants, taking into account the following factors:
  (1)    a blow struck to any vulnerable part of the body;
  (2)    aggressiveness, as demonstrated by the contestant’s forcing the fight during the round by making the greater number of attacks;
  (3)    conspicuous ring generalship, that is, skill in swiftly taking advantage of all opportunities offered, and the ability to cope with all situations as they arise, to foresee and neutralize the opponent’s attacks and to adopt a style with the opponent is not particularly comfortable;
  (4)    defence by skillful evasions and parries; and
  (5)    the ability for a contestant to take down an opponent on the mat.

 No Knee or Elbow Strikes:

195.28.  When the contestants are fighting, each of the following acts constitutes a foul:

  (12)    hitting an opponent with the bent knee or bent elbow;

No Standing Chokes or Submissions:

195.28.  When the contestants are fighting, each of the following acts constitutes a foul:

  (20)    grabbing an opponent by the throat.

195.30.  Where opponents are fighting on the mat, arm or leg holds as well as strangulation are permitted.

Appreciating the above, the question is will the Quebec Athletic Commission follow their own rules or will they turn a blind eye again to the laws of their Province for the UFC?

Quebec Regie TRT TUE Response Letter

With the UFC coming to Quebec City for the TUF Nations Finale on April 16, 2014, I contacted the Quebec Athletic Commission (The Regie des alcools, des courses at des jeux) to determine if they have followed Nevada’s lead by banning TRT TUE’s or if these are still available in Quebec.

Section 71.1 of Quebec’s Regulation Regarding Combat Sports specifically adopts the WADA prohibited list when it comes to Performance Enhancing Drugs.  The Regulations do not specifically address the availability of TUE’s so I reached out to the Regie and asked what polices they have  in force with respect to Therapeutic Use Exemptions for Testosterone Replacement Therapy and other prohibited substances.  I requested a copy of their written policy and the standards required in order to obtain a TUE.  The Regie’s answer, which I reproduce in full, is nothing short of perplexing.

The Regie responded as follows

Dear Sir, The Regie des alcools, des courses et des jeux is sensitive to the practices regarding combat sports that are applied elsewhere in the world.  All legislative and regulatory changes are the results of government commitment“.

So, are TRT TUE’s still available in Quebec and are any in place for the TUF Nations finale?  Your guess is as good as mine.

 

Last year I highlighted BC’s position that professional kickboxing and muay thai events are not allowed under the updated Section 83 of the Criminal Code.  The Senator that drafted the law responded disagreeing with the Province’s narrow interpretation of the law.

Senator Runciman has since taken a stronger stance stating that BC’s interpretation of the law he wrote “defies logic“.  The Senator, in a letter written earlier this year to BC’s Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development states that “It defies logic that some martial arts competitions were deemed legal under the previous boxing-only definition, but are now considered illegal under a definition that permits mixed martial arts“.

This is an important development because if a Court is ever asked to interpret s. 83 of the Criminal Code in deciding the scope of provincial powers to regulate professional “mixed martial arts”, the presiding judge can look to the intent of the law.

Ideally this will prompt the BC Government to revisit their position and consider legalizing professional kickboxing in the Province.  Additionally, this should be persuasive in influencing other Provinces in deciding the scope of their powers in legalizing professional combat sports.  Not all Provinces agree with BC’s position and, given the Senator’s views, a broad interpretation of what “mixed martial arts” entails is likely warranted.

I have obtained a full copy of Senator Runciman’s letter to the BC Government which can be found here:

Senator Runciman Letter to David Galbraith

One issue that separates MMA from other mainstream sports is the accessibility of athlete pay information.  The public has ready access to salaries paid to athletes in the NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB.  Even individual sports such as golf and tennis have publicly announced purses.  In the world of MMA fighter pay is far less clear.

Not all Athletic Commissions report fight purses. Those that can do not include discretionary numbers such as income from PPV points and discretionary bonuses.  Litigation, however, has a way of shedding light on topics which are otherwise confidential.  Much like the Eddie Alvarez litigation provided insight into an otherwise confidential contract  (Alvarez/Zuffa contract) , Ronda Rousey’s dispute with Fight Tribe Management has resulted in publicly available reasons for judgement which provide insight into her compensation from MMA.

CSAC’s arbitration decision centers around a “Service Agreement” which calls for manager Darin Harvey to receive “10% of all of Rousey’s professional compensation, including compensation from her professional fights“.  Although the Agreement in question was signed on January 29, 2013 the reasons for judgement reveal that Harvey acted as Rousey’s manager since 2010 and further that he collected “income” from Rousey from January 1, 2010- January 31, 2014 as follows:

  • Income From Fights – $25,608
  • Income From Pay Per View Fights – $23,180
  • Income For Sponsorship – $20,830

Assuming that Harvey’s compensation during this time frame was the same 10% as set out in the disputed “Service Agreement”, then some quick math Reveals that Rousey’s earnings from January 1, 2010 – January 31, 2014 from her “professional fights” was as follows:

  • Income From Fights – $256,080
  • Income From Pay Per View Fights – $231,800
  • Income From Sponsorship – $208,300
  • Total – $696,180

 

ESCS Logo

Last week, while browsing  TopMMANews, I read that the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission announced an “MMA Fighter of the Year” for 2013.

I noticed this was written in the April Fool’s day edition of the Rumour Mill so I chalked it up to a gag.   Curiosity got the best of me, however, and I searched the ECSC’s website to see if they actually hand out annual awards and to my surprise the answer is yes.  While their website says nothing verifying the rumoured 2013 selection, their “News” section highlights at least one past such award show.  The 2011 press release discusses awards in the following categories:

  • The Athlete of the Year in boxing
  • The Athlete of the Year in MMA
  • The Athlete of the Year in professional wrestling

The press release goes on to note that “Each year the ECSC also reviews nominations for induction into the ECSC Honour Roll for either lifetime achievement or for an outstanding athletic accomplishment.

There is nothing wrong with recognizing excellence in the performance of sport.  I make no comment on any of the ECSC’s choices.  What is noteworthy, however is that a government regulator is hosting an awards show recognizing those that they regulate.  Imagine being a licensed combatant facing an opponent that the government regulator has deemed to be an “athlete of the year“.  If this does not amount to actual bias it at the very least, from my perspective, creates an appearance of bias.

I find it difficult to find a parallel to this situation but it seems akin to a Judge announcing ‘lawyer of the year‘ awards or to a Government Liquor Control Board handing out ‘Pub of the year‘ trophies.  If I appeared before a judge that bestowed a “lawyer of the year” honour on my opposing colleague I would have little difficulty removing that judge from the case based on a reasonable apprehension of bias.   There is simply no place for a regulator to engage in such activity.

Combative Sports commissions exist to regulate sport.  There is no room for blurring the lines of oversight by picking favorites.  While there is a time and a place for recognizing excellence in combat sports, Government regulators should not fill such a role if for no other reason than that of appearances.

 

Coyright ImageWhat happens when a fighter walks out to music in a live combat sports event without proper  licencing arrangements in place?  Reasons for judgement were released in late 2013 addressing this issue (with the Supreme Court of the United States denying certiorari on March 31, 2014).  In short the artist can seek statutory damages or elect to seek actual and profit damages as a result of the infringing use.  As demonstrated in the recent case, the latter can be a difficult task.

In the recent case (Dash v. Mayweather) “Mayweather appeared at Wrestlemania XXIV, entering the arena to “Yep,” which played for approximately three minutes. Dash claims that “Yep” combines lyrics with his now-copyrighted instrumental music, TGB.”  In addition to this “Mayweather appeared as a live guest host on RAW. As in Wrestlemania XXIV, “Yep” was played in connection with Mayweather’s appearance.”

Mayweather did not have a licencing agreement with Dash to use his beat.  Instead of electing statutory damages available under Title 17,United States Code, Section 504(c), Dash sued for actual and profit damages.   The claim was ultimately dismissed with the Court finding that Dash could prove neither head of damage.  In dismissing the Claim the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, reasoned as follows:

Title 17, United States Code, Section 504(a) provides that “an infringer of copyright is liable for either (1) the copyright owner’s actual damages and any additional profits of the infringer, as provided in subsection (b); or (2) statutory damages, as provided by subsection (c).”[5] With respect to the availability of actual and/or profit damages, Section 504(b) provides that:

The copyright owner is entitled to recover the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result of the infringement, and any profits of the infringer that are attributable to the infringement and are not taken into account in computing the actual damages.

17 U.S.C. § 504(b). Thus, the statute aims to both compensate for the injury resulting from infringement and to strip the infringer of the profits generated from infringement, in order to “make[] clear that there is no gain to be made from taking someone else’s intellectual property without their consent.”…

Having concluded that Dash failed to establish his entitlement to actual damages, we now address his claim for profit damages. The district court granted Appellees summary judgment on this claim because it found that Dash had failed to present evidence that Appellees’ revenues bore any causal link to the infringement. We affirm…

It is true that in some cases, like Bonner, the infringement will form such a significant aspect of the product generating the claimed revenues that no further evidence will be required to establish that those revenues were causally linked to the infringement.See id. However, when, as here, the infringing content forms only a small, incidental portion of the products that generated the claimed revenue streams, further evidence is necessary to link the claimed revenues to the infringement. See Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 525 n. 10; cf. Walker, 28 F.3d at 415 (holding that when “the infringement occurs as a small part of a much larger work, the fact finder properly focuses not on the profit of the work overall, but only on the profit that the infringement contributes”). Indeed, like the infringing logo on the trading cards, video games, and game programs in Bouchat, it “defies credulity that a consumer would purchase” home videos of Wrestlemania XXIV simply to hear “Yep” played when Mayweather entered the ring or watch the August 24, 2009, RAW broadcast in hopes of hearing the song played again. 346 F.3d at 525 n. 10. Further evidence was required before a reasonable trier of fact could find that Appellees’ revenues were causally linked to their brief infringement of TGB. Because Dash failed to present such evidence, summary judgment was proper.

UPDATE April 7, 2014 – The Full CSAC Arbitration Decision is now available and can be found here: CSAC Ronda Rousey Aribtration Decision

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The California State Athletic Commission’s arbitration powers made headlines this week with Andy Foster releasing UFC champion Ronda Rousey from provisions of her contract with Fight Tribe Management that relate to “professional fighting services“.  Although the arbitration decision is not publicly available Sherdog.com reports as follows:

According to the CSAC decision obtained by Sherdog.com, the regulatory body ruled that Rousey is free of the mixed martial arts portion of her contract. However, designated arbitrator and CSAC Executive Director Andy Foster did not rule on the commercial aspect of the contract, which he instead deferred to the Superior Court of California.

“The agreement is hereby found to be invalid and unenforceable as it relates to Rousey’s professional fighting services and Harvey’s professional fighting management services, only; the Commission makes no findings as to the other parts of the agreement that are not directly relating to MMA fighting and defers these matters to the California Superior Court,” the CSAC decision read. “Rousey and Harvey are released from their fighter-manager agreement dated May 15, 2012, and the California State Athletic Commission orders any and all purses, which may have been partially or wholly withheld to be released to Rousey.”

The reason? The Management contract did not comply with s. 221 of California’s regulations which require as follows:

§ 221. Provisions Of Contract.

(a) The original contract entered into between managers and boxers and promoters and boxers shall be placed on file with the commission at the time it is approved pursuant to Rule 222. Except as provided below, a contract becomes null and void if at any time during its term the manager or promoter, after notice from the commission, is not licensed by the commission. If a manager or promoter is not licensed because the license has been revoked or suspended for 60 calendar days or more by the commission, all contracts with the manager or promoter shall become void on the 30th day after the date of the order of revocation or suspension unless a court of competent jurisdiction, upon notice to the commission, issues an order staying the commission’s order within the 30-day period. If a manager or promoter is not licensed because the license has been suspended by the commission for less than 60 calendar days, all contracts with the manager or promoter are voidable by the boxer if written notice is given by the boxer to the manager or promoter and to the commission within the period of license suspension.

(b) No manager or group of managers shall be allowed to participate in more than 33 1/3 percent of the gross ring earnings of the boxer. No assignment of any part or parts of the boxer’s or manager’s interest in a contract, filed and approved by the commission, shall be permitted without the approval and consent of the commission. The consent to assign shall not be granted unless a copy of the proposed assignment is submitted to the commission for its approval. No manager may negotiate or sign for matches for a boxer not under contract to him. Any boxer not having a contract with a licensed manager shall sign for his own contests and receipt for his full purse. All disputes between the parties to the contract, including the validity of the contract, shall be arbitrated pursuant to the provisions of the contract.

Following this decision Darin Harvey of Fight Tribe Management tweeted as follows:

Darin Harvey Tweet

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Darin’s comments, although blunt, are worth noting for any fighters and managers who have contractual relationships that extend beyond state lines.  The laws relating to fight management contracts vary from State to State and the lessons learned from a dispute can be costly.
One organization that ought to take notice of the CSAC decision is Team Takedown.  Johny Hendrick’s financial relationship with Team Takedown recently came to light with the management company taking on a significant financial burden with the hope of future financial gain.  In short, Team Takedown pays significant overhead for their fighters and in return take 50% of fighter earnings.
This business model is likely not a profitable one unless a fighter reaches the pinnacle of the sport.  From there earnings can be significant and the investment can pay off.   The risk of the relationship souring once big money is at stake is a real one.  Team Takedown has apparently considered this and hope their contract can protect them if their relationship with Hendrick’s ever goes south following a big payday.  MMAJunkie reports as follows:
In MMA it’s still tough to tell whether such a model is sustainable. A 50 percent split in exchange for weekly paychecks and all living expenses paid might sound like a great idea to a fighter who’s just starting out, but what about once he’s become the champ, as Hendricks has? Will he still think he’s getting a good deal, or will he be tempted to look for another, more immediately profitable arrangement?
It’s something Ehrhardt has considered, he said, but not something he spends a lot of time fretting over. For one thing, he said, he has a contract with Hendricks

If Hendricks and Team Takedown ever have a falling out following a big fight purse in California the contract will offer little protection.  The lesson?  Managers and fighters must be familiar with and comply with the regulatory laws in all jurisdictions in which they do business otherwise  risk undoing the certainty of their contractual arrangements.