Ronda Rousey Wins Battle, but Legal War May Just Be Beginning

Written by Tom Ngo
April 4th, 2014
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UFC Ronda Rousey

On Thursday, the California State Athletic Commission determined through arbitration that UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (pictured) is free of the mixed martial arts portion of her contract from now-former manager Darin Harvey and his Fight Tribe Management company.

However, the CSAC said the Superior Court of California would have to rule on the commercial aspects of Rousey’s agreement with Harvey.

According to the legal documents obtained by Sherdog.com, Rousey and Harvey entered into a three-year contract dated May 15, 2012, and signed January 29, 2013, which granted Harvey 10 percent of Rousey’s income generated from professional fighting, modeling, acting and other commercial activities.

Although the CSAC admitted Harvey acted as Rousey’s manager because he “was involved in Rousey’s training and development, which he paid for. He directed or controlled Rousey’s MMA activities in one way or another … and by acquiring hundreds of thousands of dollars in paid sponsorships for her, which were generated from Rousey’s fighting success,” Harvey did not follow the proper protocol with the CSAC in establishing a fighter-manager relationship.

Their agreement was not prepared on the required, pre-approved forms, nor did Harvey and Rousey appear before the CSAC together in order to receive the committee’s approval.

Therefore, the CSAC ordered for “any and all purses, which may have been partially or wholly withheld to be released to Rousey.”

Harvey contests their arrangement has always been that of a talent contract, not a fighter-manager deal, that’s why he didn’t go the mandatory route established by the CSAC.

And that’s where this could get ugly for Rousey as she continues her ascent into Hollywood. Harvey is insisting that they agreed he would get 10 percent of ALL of her income, not just MMA.

In February, UFC president Dana White said he was shocked at how much money Rousey was making in movies. That’s the loot Harvey has his sights set on, something Rousey’s lawyer, Steven Bash of Bash and Polyachenko, P.C., is prepared to defend.

“With most fighters, this would be the end of the story,” Bash told Sherdog. “However, because of Ronda’s unprecedented popularity outside the cage, certain provisions in the contract relating to non-fight earnings are of unusual importance. Going forward, we feel strongly that since Darin is no longer going to be her manager, the entire purported agreement should be deemed invalid, since the overall purpose of the contract has been frustrated.

“However, since such a ruling would be beyond the scope of the CSAC arbitration, we anticipate having to establish that in private arbitration and Superior Court.”

Although competing in the UFC just three times, Rousey, who owns a perfect 9-0 professional record, has quickly become the company’s biggest mainstream star. The 27-year-old is currently filming the “Entourage” movie and is hoping defend her crown, presumably against Cat Zingano, this summer.

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