It is rumored that, following WSOF Canada’s Ford v. Powell card, fighter pay issues arose with some cheques issued being cancelled or otherwise not clearing. I reached out to WSOF Canada to verify these rumours but at the time of publication they have yet to respond:
I am advised by a source privy to the situation that the promoter is dealing with any outstanding issues which may have arisen and that new cheques have since been issued.
Hopefully this is true, however, this story highlights something that should never happen in professional MMA. Leaving aside promoter duties to fulfill their contractual obligations, Government Athletic Commissions exist first and foremost for the protection of fighters. This applies not only in ensuring reasonable safety precautions are in place but also to ensure financial obligations are met.
Section 10 of Edmonton’s Combative Sports Bylaw, which was in force during the Ford v. Powell card, requires that:
“At least five days prior to the date of the Event the holder of an Event Permit must submit to the Executive Director…a certified cheque in the amount necessary to pay…the maximum amount of prize money that could be awarded to Contestants at the Event”.
Note that this clause is mandatory. The use of the word “must” leaves no discretion and mandates that certified cheques sufficient to cover a fight purse be paid ahead of time. Clauses like this are common for combat sports athletic commissions across Canada and the US and exist for a reason – to protect the financial interests of licensed combatants. If this rule is adhered to fighter non-payment should never be an issue.
If a promoter does not make good on a fight purse, an Athletic Commission that fails to strictly follow clauses such as the above would likely be liable to make up any shortfall. Hopefully this is nothing but rumour and WSOF Canada have met all of their contractual obligations. If not, however, this is a lesson for commissions not to take short cuts otherwise they can be left holding the bag.