Sponsor agrees to pay Bellator's Rick Hawn after initially stopping sponsorship check
By Ariel Helwani on Jan 22, 3:45p 19
A verbal agreement gone wrong.
That's the best way to describe what happened between Bellator lightweight Rick Hawn and lifestyle brand HTFU.
Hawn took to Twitter Monday to explain that after losing the Bellator lightweight title fight to champion Michael Chandler last Thursday, HTFU decided to break their sponsorship agreement.
He wrote, "one of my main sponsors from my fight canceled his check cuz (sic) he wasnt (sic) happy with the outcome or my performance."
HTFU had verbally agreed to pay Hawn $1,500 to wear their apparel on fight night. They also sent him extra gear.
Hawn (14-2), a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Judo team, also posted a message sent from HTFU's CEO and founder Mark Gingrich to FundaFighter rep Mike Russell, who worked with Hawn to secure the HTFU deal, explaining why he refused to pay him after the fight.
"I took a huge chance with him," the sponsor wrote. "TV exposure was great ... but it only holds weight if he wins or puts on a good show. Neither happened."
Hawn lost to Chandler last week via second-round rear-naked choke submission. HTFU is a Dallas-based company established in 2009.
Gingrich told MMAFighting.com that Hawn didn't post the entire e-mail sent to Russell.
According to Gingrich, he sent an e-mail to Russell on Friday asking why Hawn's cornermen weren't wearing HTFU gear during the fight. Gingrich said that that was part of their verbal agreement. Russell refuted that claim, highlighting the fact that Hawn's head coach Firas Zahabi has an exclusive deal with Headrush Brand Apparel. Russell hypothesized that the confusion came after Gingrich asked Hawn if he should also send gear for his corner to wear during the fight, and Hawn replied, "Sure."
"There was an agreed upon arrangement," Gingrich said. "When he didn't fulfill the arrangement, a stopped payment was put on his check."
However, it appears as though cooler heads have since prevailed.
After our initial conversation on Tuesday, Gingrich called MMAFighting.com back and said that he will be paying Hawn the money he owes him.
"A new check has been issued to Rick," he said. "It has been mailed today."
Gingrich, who was quite emotional when talking about the personal threats he has received from MMA fans since Hawn posted his message Monday, said the last thing he wants people to think is that his brand doesn't support athletes when they fall short. He reiterated that he regrets the miscommunication and wished Hawn the best in his career.
The controversy resulted in a tremendous amount of chatter on MMA Web sites and forums in the past 24 hours in favor of Hawn, who never publicly mentioned HTFU in his tweets.
When MMAFighting.com told Russell that Gingrich had decided to pay Hawn after all, Russell said he was pleased to hear the news and would talk to Hawn about whether he would cash the check after all.