Bellator Fighting Championships Sues Zuffa, LLC for “Tortious Interference with Contract”

Written by Tom Ngo
August 10th, 2010

Bellator Fighting Championships

According to reports, Bellator Fighting Championships has filed a lawsuit in New Jersey against Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC and WEC. Coincidentally, Bellator’s suit comes nearly two weeks after Zuffa took legal action against the start-up mixed martial arts company for allegedly using confidential Octagon documents and trade secrets to try and replicate their success.

MMAJunkie.com is stating that “The Ultimate Fighter 12” cast member Jonathan Brookins joined the popular reality series while still under an exclusive contract with Bellator.

Brookins and his manager Mickey Dubberley were also named as defendants in today’s suit.

The youngster holds a respectable 11-3 professional record and steamrolled Stephen Ledbetter in his only appearance for Bellator back in April 2009. Brookins then collected two impressive wins under the G-Force Fights banner, however Bellator contends they specifically approved each of those scraps.

Bellator claims neither Brookins nor Dubberley requested their permission to appear on TUF 12. Not only did they not mention the lightweight tournament, but the suit states that Dubberley actually lied to Bellator brass about his client’s health status.

“We’ve been offering [Brookins] fights, and hindsight being 20-20, we were lied to by his management saying he was injured and couldn’t accept fights,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney told the website. “We find out afterward he was filming and fighting on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ – that he made the show and was in the house.”

Rebney states Bellator’s actions today have nothing to do with Zuffa’s allegations from late last month. He claims they are not trying to retaliate against the world’s premier MMA promotion, but just doing what’s fair.

“It was odd to us, and struck me as odd, that what happened [two weeks ago] happened with the UFC,” he expressed. “It was a disconnect for me. I didn’t understand it. The UFC admitted freely it had never viewed the alleged proprietary documents. I assumed there was something under it. The moment we were made aware that he was on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and had made it in the house and had been taped on the show and had been sequestered for a number of months, our attorneys started calling immediately. He’s called a number of times to the UFC legal team and has gotten no response. Not one returned phone call. The whole situation struck me very, very odd.

“It’s one thing to have documents in your hand to be able to point to and say, ‘This is our document. This is proprietary.’ But to not have anything in hand and to take the actions that were taken, for lack of a better term, it seemed like a pre-emptive strike.”

Dubberley was unaware of the lawsuit when contacted by MMAJunkie, however emphasized that Brookins has done nothing wrong. He claims they were granted a verbal release by Bellator matchmaker Sam Caplan.

Blasphemy, states Rebney.

“That is a complete and total fabrication. That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Rebney said. “Sam has been repeatedly trying to get Jonathan to accept fights. We’ve been told he was injured. We were lied to.

“We wouldn’t release Jonathan. We count ourselves fortunate to have signed him … At Bellator, we function as a professional organization. If and when we release fighters, we do so on paper. We don’t do so verbally. We follow a pretty standard form of practice in this industry. That is a ridiculous comment at it’s most basic level.”

Here’s the legal mumbo jumbo regrading the suit:

“Bellator is requesting exemplary damages on the counts of tortious interference with contract, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, breach of contract (against Brookins), fraud, business information misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment.”

No comment for Zuffa at the time of publication.

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