Litigation is one of the great tools in shedding light on topics otherwise kept private.
To this end fighter pay and other contractual details often come to light when parties have a disagreement resolved in the public forum of the judiciary.
Last month former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping found himself largely on the losing side of a dispute with his former manager Anthony McGann. McGann sued Bisping for various payments he claimed were owed under a Management Agreement with the fighter. The lawsuit ultimately was harsh for both parties with Mr. Justice Salter of the London High Court finding both litigants courtroom conduct and testimony left much to be desired.
The Court did, however, rule that a valid contract was in place between the parties for many years and that McGann was entitled to 15%-20% of Bisping’s gross purses paid out over several years. In so finding the Court noted the following earnings of Bisping for the below bouts-
- Bisping vs. Haynes – $25,000
- Bisping vs. Schafer – $140,000 (including $101,000 event bonus, $15,000 in sponsorship)
- Bisping vs. Sinosic – $169,000
- Bisping vs. Hamill – $149,000
- Bisping vs. Evans – $212,000
- Bisping vs. McCarthy – $149,000
- Bisping vs. Day – $226,000
- Bisping vs. Leban – $279,000
- Bisping vs. Henderson – $306,000
- Bisping vs. Kang – $346,000
- Bisping vs. Silva – $252,000
- Bisping vs. Miller – $400,000
- Bisping vs. Akiyama – $412,000
- Bisping vs. Rivera – $424,000
- Bisping vs. Miller – $425,000
- Bisping vs. Sonnen – $300,000
- Bisping vs. Stann – $425,000
- Bisping vs. Belfort – $300,000
- Bisping vs. Belcher – $425,000
- Bisping vs. Kennedy – $300,000
The above can be contrasted with the purses Bisping received as speculated by some in the MMA community.
The Court noted that based on the contractual relationship that was deemed to exist McGann was entitled to the following payments from these purses:
303.1 USD 64,500 in respect of commission at 20% on sums withheld by overseas tax authorities (Issues (2) and (10))
303.2 USD 40,000 in respect of commission at 20% on the value of the Range Rovers (Issue 3)
303.3 USD 63,750 and USD 975 in respect of commission at 15% on Mr Bisping’s admitted earnings in connection with the bout against Jason Miller in December 2011 (Issues 6 and 10)
303.4 USD 45,000 in respect of commission at 15% on Mr Bisping’s admitted earnings from Zuffa in connection with the bout against Chael Sonnen in January 2012 (Issues 6 and 10)
303.5 USD 63,750 in respect of commission at 15% on Mr Bisping’s admitted earnings from Zuffa in connection with the bout against Brian Stann in September 2012 (Issues 6 and 10)
303.6 USD 45,000 in respect of commission at 15% on Mr Bisping’s admitted earnings from Zuffa in connection with the bout against Belfort in January 2013 2012 (Issues 6 and 10)
303.7 USD 63,750 in respect of commission at 15% on Mr Bisping’s admitted earnings from Zuffa in connection with the bout against Belcher in April 2013 2012 (Issues 6 and 10)
303.8 USD 45,000 in respect of commission at 15% on Mr Bisping’s admitted earnings from Zuffa in connection with the bout against Tim Kennedy in April2014 (Issues 6 and 10)
303.9 Contractual interest on the sum of USD 67,350 awarded in paragraph 303.3 above at the rate of 4 % over the base rate of HSBC Bank Plc from 13 December 2011 to the date of judgment (Issue 11).
The judgement revealed a handful of other interesting topics as well such as
- the fact that Bisping received two Range Rovers for his appearances on TUF each valued at approximately $100,000
- That one TUF coach was paid by receiving a new tractor
- Dana White testified with the court finding that “Mr White was plainly trying to tell the truth, but that he had little or no useful evidence to give in relation to any matter other than the Range Rover issues.“
- The court found that “Mr Bisping was also a knowing participant with Mr McGann in the scheme to defraud the Australian Tax Authorities by overstating Mr Bisping’s expenses in 2010 and 2011“
- A host of e-mails and other correspondence between the parties was reproduced in full in the reasons
- Other financial details came to light such as sponsorship pay for various bouts
The Court concluded its ruling noting that normally a costs order would be made however because of the below summarized concerns the court was leaning to awarding neither side their costs:
In case it assists the parties to reach agreement on consequential matters, my provisional view (subject to any further submissions which either side may choose to make to me) is that the appropriate way of dealing with the costs of this action to date is to make no order. To an extent, Mr McGann has been the successful party, in that Mr Bisping is the paying party. However, having regard to the way in which Mr McGann has conducted this litigation, it presently seems to me (as I say, subject to any further submissions that either party may make) that it would be an affront to justice to order Mr Bisping to reimburse any part of Mr McGann’s costs of the action. However, Mr Bisping’s own conduct in relation to this litigation has fallen well short of the standard that the court is entitled to expect from those who come before it, to such an extent that I presently do not (again, subject to the parties’ further submissions) consider that the justice of the case merits an award in Mr Bisping’s favour, even in relation to those issues about which Mr McGann has sought to deceive the court. However, I have not reached a final view on these matters, should the parties wish to make further submissions in relation to them.
A final interesting detail. Many legal points were raised but nowhere in the judgement was the court asked to scrutinize if Bisping’s manager was licensed in all the jurisdictions he sought a percentage of Bisping’s earnings. As previously discussed, absent licencing a manager arguably cannot seek such compensation and this may have been a missed opportunity for Bisping.