“Yes I am suing Lesnar and the UFC for his entire purse. Cheaters deserve nothing!” - Mark Hunt, MarkHunt.tv
UFC fighter Mark Hunt, who lost to Brock Lesnar at UFC 200 before it was revealed that Lesnar failed drug tests before the fight as well as the night of the fight, filed a $2.5 million lawsuit yesterday in The United States District Court of Nevada against Lesnar, The Ultimate Fighting Championship and UFC President Dana White, ESPN's Brett Okamoto reported Tuesday evening.
The lawsuit alleges, according to the ESPN article that "the defendants "affirmatively circumvented and obstructed fair competition for their own benefit." It accuses the parties of racketeering, which carries the potential weight of treble damages, and fraud, among other allegations. Hunt is seeking financial relief for damages, both physical and to his overall brand."
PWInsider.com is currently working to acquire a copy of the lawsuit.
Hunt was interviewed by ESPN as part of their coverage of the lawsuit and said, "I want the UFC to understand it's not OK to keep doing what they're doing. They're allowing guys to do this. They had a chance to take all the money from this guy, because he's a cheater, and they didn't. What message is that sending to the boys and girls who want to be a fighter someday? The message is, 'You just have to cheat like this and it's OK.' In society, if you commit a crime, you pay. Why is it different in MMA? It's hurt the business, so it's even worse. They need to be held accountable for this."
The lawsuit is the latest twist in a fascinating series of events regarding Brock Lesnar's return to MMA competition last year, which saw the former UFC Heavyweight champion announced for UFC 200, making waves as Lesnar was (and is) under contract to World Wrestling Entertainment. At the time, WWE stated it would be a one-time appearance with Lesnar stating publicly that he approached WWE about the fight and even beat Vince McMahon in an arm-wrestling match in order to get McMahon to sign off.
Lesnar was given an exemption from UFC's drug-testing program, allowing him to return and fight without undergoing four months of pre-fight drug testing, usually required for a fighter returning from retirement. The lawsuit alleges that UFC chose to do so, despite their "knowledge or willful indifference to the fact that Lesnar was using banned substances."
The lawsuit also alleges that UFC knew about Lesnar's planned comeback well before it was announced in June 2016, so Lesnar should not have been given the exemption and should have been tested long before he actually was. The suit also alleges that UFC failed to expedite drug testing samples, although they were well aware they could do so.
Lesnar fought Hunt at UFC 2000 and easily won, only to have it revealed that he failed a pre-fight test on 6/28/16 as well as a second test on 7/9/16, the night of the Hunt fight. Each failure was for the drug clomiphene, an anti-estrogen agent. Hunt has been loudly upset since the Lesnar drug tests were revealed and has pushed for UFC to punish those who fail drug-tests. It is not the first time Hunt has complained about drug failures as he's had several opponents who have been revealed to have failed drug tests coming out of his fights.
Part of the reason Hunt is suing UFC is that based on UFC's drug testing policy, they have the right to pull a competitor's fight earnings and additional compensation in the event of a fighter violating the policy - but have failed to do so in the case of Lesnar.
Lesnar was punished by the Nevada State Athletic Commission as he was suspended him for one year and fined $250,000, which was 10% of his $2.5 million payday for the Hunt Fight. Hunt, in comparison, was paid $700,000 for his fight against Lesnar - and likely did not receive anywhere near the amount of bonuses that Lesnar would have been entitled to based on how the UFC 200 PPV buyrate performed.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) also announced Lesnar has been suspended for one year, retroactive to July 2016.
It should be noted that the lawsuit acknowledges that Lesnar has publicly denied that he knowingly took any banned substances during the time period he was preparing for the UFC 200 fight.
WWE publicly acknowledged they would not be penalizing Lesnar - even though the drug failures would be considered strikes against him under their Wellness Policy, claiming that Lesnar was not considered a full-time contracted WWE performer, therefore he was exempt from the Wellness Policy. Lesnar returned to action at Summerslam 2016, defeating Randy Orton by TKO after an errant elbow busted Orton open, leading to a quick and anti-climactic ending to the PPV. WWE sources have maintained that was the planned finish of the match, although Orton himself has acknowledged he was not aware the elbow was about to happen and was not happy about being concussed that evening.
Lesnar was the centerpiece of the marketing of the WWE 2K17 videogame that was released in October 2016 as well.
Christina Denning, Hunt's lead attorney, told ESPN that she met with UFC officials prior to filing the lawsuit in an effort to discuss Hunt's contractual demands regarding future doping violations and to allow the flagship MMA company a chance to fix the situation, but the company declined the chance to penalize Lesnar beyond the USADA and Nevada State Athletic Commission's actions. Denning told UFC that Hunt was willing to accept Lesnar's fight payday, minus the fines levied against him. Denning stated that UFC had the right to invoke that claim but declined to do so.
"Mark says the penalties aren't harsh enough," Denning told ESPN. "What's interesting is that the penalties are harsh enough on paper, they're just not being enforced by the UFC."
Hunt told ESPN that he's asked out of his UFC contract but that request has been turned down.
"I didn't want to be in this position," Hunt said. "It puts me in a weird spot because I'm still under contract. Fans say, 'Mark, you knew he was juicing.' I didn't know. You look at him and think, 'Yeah, he's on the gear,' but don't judge a book by its cover and all that. "This was the last straw. I lost that fight, it ruined it for my fans. It wasn't good. I asked to get out of my contract but I can't. I need to work like everyone else."
The official result of Lesnar vs. Hunt at UFC 200 is now listed as a no contest.
Hunt is slated to fight for UFC on 3/4 against Alistair Overeem in Las Vegas.
Lesnar has continued to appear for WWE and will be working a number of Raw events leading to the 2017 Royal Rumble PPV. He could conceivably return to competition in July of this year if Lesnar chose to pursue that avenue.
Thanks to Jason Block for sending along the article.
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