Update October 29, 2014 – Kevin Iole reports this matter will not come to a head as the NSAC has apparetly given Belfort their blessing to go to California. Here is the tweet –
Fightland reports that the UFC middleweight title bout between Vitor Belfort and Chris Weidman which initially was scheduled to take place in Nevada is being moved to California.
One issue, however, is that Vitor Belfort is under a conditional licence with the Nevada State Athletic Commission and a move to California puts him in breach of his licence which can pose regulatory problems for licencing in California.
Here’s the background – Belfort failed a random drug test in Nevada in February of this year testing positive for testosterone levels above normal even for those with Therapeutic Use Exemptions (which Belfort did not have with Nevada at the time). When Belfort finally applied for a Nevada licence in July, 2014 this drug test came back to haunt him with the Commission placing conditions on his licence.
During the application process Belfort tells the Commission “I promise I will not fight anywhere else before I fight here in Nevada. Anywhere. I promise you guys. Finally I would like the Commision to know that the UFC has the championship fight for me in December here in Las Vegas, I would hope the Commission would grant me the licence today“.
The NSAC took this promise to heart and imposed it as a strict condition of his licence which was granted with the following terms:
1. There is not to be a fight before December, 2014
2. The fight is to take place in Las Vegas and no other jurisdiction
3. Belfort is to comply with all reasonable drug testing, at his expense.
Leaving aside the ridiculousness of this condition (a licence should be based on merit, not based on promising to have a big money fight in the Commission’s back yard) by breaching the condition Belfort’s licence is effectively retroactively denied. If Nevada took this position, NAC 467.087 would apply and Belfort would be a person who was denied a licence and be banned from seeking a licence until July of 2015 putting California in the unenviable position of licencing a fighter who was prohibited from applying for a licence in another jurisdiction.
The loophole, however, may come under Nevada’s Rule 467.100 which holds that “a license is valid for the remainder of the calendar year for which it is granted“. If Nevada flexes their muscle Belfort and California can argue that the licence simply expired and that Belfort never breached the condition. As demonstrated by the Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva incidents, the NSAC has a history of pushing the boundaries of their jurisdiction. If they do so again the UFC middleweight title bout can get caught up in a regulatory mess.