Eddie Goldman of NHBnews published an article on December 27, 2007, which contained detailed quotes from Fedor Emelianenko. The article can be found here: http://www.adcombat.com/Article.asp?Article_ID=14555. Unfortunately, I didn’t see this article while drafting the initial blog, but it is worth referencing now.
In the article, Fedor Emelianenko detailed the reasons he chose not to sign with Zuffa. Emelianenko stated:
“The contract that we were presented with by the UFC was simply impossible, couldn’t be signed–I couldn’t leave. If I won, I had to fight up to eight times in two years. If I lost one fight, then the UFC had the right to rip up the contract. At the conclusion of the contract, if I am undefeated, then it automatically extends for an as yet unspecified time, though for the same compensation.”
“Basically, I can’t leave undefeated. I can’t give interviews, appear in films or advertising. I don’t have the right to do anything without the UFC’s agreement. I could do nothing without the OK from the UFC. I didn’t have the right to compete in combat sambo competition. It’s my national sport. It’s the Russian sport, which in his time our president competed in, and I no longer have the right to do so. There were many such clauses; the contract was 18 pages in length. It was written in such a way that I had absolutely no rights while the UFC could at any moment, if something didn’t suit them, tear up the agreement. We worked with lawyers who told us it was patently impossible to sign such document.” (http://www.sherdog.com/news/articles.asp?n_id=10538
Mr. Goldman observed that Randy Couture (the then current heavyweight champion of the UFC), Emelianenko, and Dana White himself went “on public record stating that UFC fighters are essentially required to sign contracts from which they ‘couldn’t leave’ or can’t or ‘don’t resign.’”
Mr. Goldman then concluded that:
“The time has come for both federal and state agencies in the U.S. to examine the legality of these UFC contracts. Even if they are technically legal, they also must be compared to the federal requirements for boxing contracts mandated by the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, which was enacted in 2000.”
Additionally, on Mr. Goldman’s most recent “No Holds Barred” radio show, Nick Lembo, New Jersey State Athletic Control Board Deputy Attorney, declared that he believed the Muhammad Ali Act should be applied to mixed martial arts. You can check this show out here: http://nhbnews.blogspot.com/.
Finally, Matt “the Law” Lindland also spoke out, declaring:
“The UFC contracts are illegal. Based on the Muhammad Ali (Safety) Act, you cannot be the promoter and the manager at the same time. If they are telling you who and when you are going to fight, they are the manager as well as the promoter.” http://fiveouncesofpain.com/2008/07/03/matt-lindland-claims-ufc-contracts-are-illegal/.
Lindland’s quote references the provision in the Act which prohibits certain conflicts of interest by establishing a “fire-wall” between managers and promoters. 15 § USCA 6308.
The original article entitled “Battle Lines Being Drawn: Why the Muhammad Ali Act Should Apply to MMA” can be found here: