The Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association assisted its members in a breach of contract dispute with promoter EliteXC. The MMAFA, on behalf of its members, forwarded a demand letter to EliteXC officials seeking a release of its members from EliteXC contracts. The MMAFA also drafted a complaint that it was prepared to file in the event that EliteXC refused to voluntarily release the fighters from their promotional agreements. The dispute was resolved shortly thereafter when Strikeforce, a mixed martial arts promotion, acquired the promotional agreements of fighters in an asset sale.
The MMAFA was founded by Rob Maysey, an attorney licensed in Arizona, California, and Minnesota. Mr. Maysey holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics (with honors) from Whitman College and a J.D. from Cornell Law School. Mr. Maysey was a Washington State Finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship while in college, and a member of the baseball team.
Mr. Maysey has written extensively on a variety of topics affecting fighters in the sport of mixed martial arts including the application of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act of 2000, as amended (the “Muhammad Ali Act” or “Act“) to the sport of MMA, and contracts utilized by MMA promoters. His work has been featured on prominent industry websites including fightopinion.com and mmapayout.com. Mr. Maysey has also been the featured guest on No Holds Barred, the radio show of Eddie Goldman who is known as the “conscience of combat sports,” Carson’s Corner hosted by Bob Carson and Fight Opinion Radio hosted by Zach Arnold. Mr. Maysey was the featured speaker at a legal symposium on mixed martial arts hosted by the West Virginia College of Law, and was cited in the West Virginia Law Review.
The MMAFA executive team also includes Zev J. Eigen, Jason P. Smith, Trevor Mance, and Matt Maysey.
Trevor Mance holds a Bachelors degree from Arizona State University with emphasis in Communication, Marketing and Business Development. Trevor’s professional experience includes generating extensive publicity, executing effective marketing campaigns, creating strong internet presence, and the development of new business ventures.
Jason P. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Whitman College and a Master’s of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University. Mr. Smith participated in both track and rugby while at Whitman, and was an award winning member of their national debate team. Upon graduation from college, Mr. Smith became a Marine Corps officer. Throughout his fourteen years of service (both active duty and reserves) Mr. Smith has prepared his Marines for combat and participated in both Operation Enduring Freedom as a provisional rifle platoon commander in Pakistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom as a convoy commander in the Anbar Province.
Currently, Mr. Smith works as the Assistant Dean of Students for the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. Mr. Smith guest lectures on leadership in both graduate and undergraduate classes, and has been featured on both local and national radio shows. Mr. Smith also continues to serve in the Marine Corps Reserves, where he currently holds the rank of major.
Matt Maysey is a former member of the Major League Baseball Players Association, having pitched for the Montreal Expos and Milwaukee Brewers. Mr. Maysey also played professional baseball in Mexico, Venezuela and Taiwan during his baseball career. While in high-school, USA Today rated him the ninth-best pitching prospect in the nation. Currently, Mr. Maysey is a pitching instructor at Proway Baseball Academy located in the Houston metropolitan area.
The MMAFA’s mission statement is set forth below:
SCOTTSDALE, AZ – January 12, 2009 - The Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (“MMAFA”), on behalf of its members, forwarded a demand letter today to EliteXC Live, a California corporation (“EliteXC”). MMAFA, on behalf of its members, seeks an acknowledgment from EliteXC that its promotional agreements have been terminated. While hopeful that litigation will be unnecessary, a draft of complaint has been prepared and forwarded to EliteXC officials. According to the letter, EliteXC has a limited time in order to voluntarily provide the release to all of the fighters, and if EliteXC refuses, MMAFA will file a complaint on behalf of its members.
On November 10, 2008, in an action initially spearheaded by agent Ken Pavia, a group of agents, including Ed Soares and Monte Cox, collaborated to “pool resources” to fight the proposed auction of and transferability of EliteXC’s promotional agreements. “The unity of this effort is unprecedented and the message that is being sent is clear,” declared the agents. Recognizing the success of their prior action, a number of agents sought collective action again in resolving contractual issues with EliteXC.
“This situation has gone on entirely too long,” stated agent Ed Soares. “I can’t have my fighters left in the dark and unable to sign with any promotion they choose.”
“Unfortunately, individual litigation is cost prohibitive for our members. While it is our intention to reduce any unneeded expense,” stated Rob Maysey, “MMAFA has reached out to and contacted top litigation counsel and is prepared to litigate this matter to a conclusion. Fighters and their families have been put in an unfortunate position and are unfairly bearing the burden of EliteXC’s situation.”
Maysey continued, “MMAFA acts only upon the instruction of our fighter members and their representatives. MMAFA has actively solicited input from agents and their respective legal teams. This initiative is truly collaborative and support has been widespread. At this time, our focus is solely on resolving the EliteXC contractual issue for our members.”
About The MMAFA
The MMAFA is a voluntary association of professional mixed martial artists formed to engage in activities that foster the economic interests of and protect the welfare of its members. Additionally, the MMAFA has been established to provide its members with an influential and central voice in matters affecting the world of mixed martial arts.
Rob Maysey: An attorney licensed in Arizona, California and Minnesota and a former collegiate athlete with training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Zev J. Eigen: An attorney licensed in California, currently working on his PhD at M.I.T., and a former amateur muay-thai kickboxer.
Matt Maysey: A pitching instructor at Proway Baseball Academy in Houston, Texas, and a former Major League Baseball Player as a pitcher with the Montreal Expos and Milwaukee Brewers.
Jason P. Smith. The director of student services and admissions for the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington, and a Major in the United States Marine Corps Reserves.
Fighters wishing to join the MMAFA should contact Rob Maysey.
An Open Letter to Lorenzo Fertitta (and Dana White)
In response to a question regarding the potential unionization of fighters asked during the UFC Fan Expo 2010, you responded by stating the UFC had no position, either in support of or against such efforts. “We have no role. . . That’s entirely up [to the] fighters.” I fully agree, and your public acknowledgment of the UFC’s complete neutrality is admirable and greatly appreciated.
You further suggested that a “union” may not be practical or directly applicable to the unique aspects of the sport of mixed martial arts. This may also be true. A union, however, is not at all necessary to improve the status and marketability of professional mixed martial artists—the athletes who make this sport great.
Under your leadership, the UFC has spurred the growth of mixed martial arts from a fringe underground sport into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. The UFC is also leading the global expansion of mixed martial arts, and continuously pushes the sport into new markets. The atmosphere of the live show has made the UFC an event in and of itself, and the production value is the envy of all other promotions in the world.
As to benefits, the UFC carries “more insurance than any other promoter in the history of the world” and covers injuries sustained during an event “100 percent-plus.” Again, the UFC’s practices are enviable in this regard. Unfortunately, fighters on more than one occasion have accepted fights in the UFC to obtain this “in-event” insurance to cover injuries sustained in training or in other organizations. Further, the challenges faced by professional mixed martial artists extend far beyond in-arena competition.
Fighters are regularly victimized by unscrupulous agents, sponsors, and other promotions. New stories emerge on an almost weekly basis of promoters and sponsors failing to pay contracted fighters amounts due. Fighters continue to suffer at the hands of unscrupulous agents and managers, who are at best incompetent, and at worst, outright thieves. This problem will magnify in the future as unsavory characters looking for quick paydays gravitate to the sport as the revenue mixed martial arts generates increases.
These challenges, to name just a few, should not be your responsibility to administer, and can best be addressed by the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (MMAFA) for legal and other reasons. A strong fighters association creates efficiency by eliminating headaches for promoters, and thus, frees your time and resources to your most profitable endeavor--promoting great events. A strong fighters association also serves to increase the legitimacy of the sport and marketability of all fighters, growing the revenue pie for promoters and fighters alike.
Following the collapse of EliteXC, fighters were left in limbo for months, stuck in contracts that EliteXC (i) had no intention of performing and (ii) refused to release the talent from. “Industry” attorneys were seeking $100,000 or more to begin the litigation process on behalf of fighters, and were willing to accept these funds from virtually any source. We took immediate action on behalf of our members, with the assistance of some of the most talented attorneys in the country.
Unlike other plans that were circulated by various members of the MMA community, the MMAFA has steadfastly refused to endorse any plan that seeks to impose a “tax” on a fighter’s purse. The MMAFA views any such plan as both confiscatory and unnecessary. Our model works, remarkably well, and requests nothing at all of any promotion. Approval of the logo during events, held in trust for the benefit of members, would be appreciated but not necessary for success.
Talent follows desire. I firmly believe this statement, and Dana White seems to also live by it. It is Dana’s passion and your commitment that have made the UFC as successful as it is today—a billion dollar company. After investing a reported $42 million dollars in the UFC, however, you asked Dana to inquire about sale opportunities. To your credit, only after a suitable offer failed to materialize, you decided to proverbially “double-down” on your investment, and financed the production of “The Ultimate Fighter.” “The Ultimate Fighter” was an instant success leading to unprecedented growth for the UFC.
While I haven’t lost tens of millions of dollars invested, I have never waivered in my belief that the MMAFA will assist promoters and fighters alike in maximizing the success of this great sport. So thoroughly convinced of the MMAFA’s ultimate success, I have frequently turned down other opportunities for personal gain in mixed martial arts. Several months ago, one of the most well respected agents in the sport asked if I was using the MMAFA as a stepping stone for future advancement, whether in the form of becoming an agent, or taking a promotional job. As I responded at the time, the answer is absolutely not. The Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association is not a stepping stone to any other role in mixed martial arts—it is the end in and of itself.
I welcome the opportunity to meet with you in person to discuss our association, and will interpret silence or lack of response as the UFC’s continued expression of complete neutrality.