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Old 05-24-2007, 12:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Pride fighters lawsuit

Numerous fighters currently under contract to Dream Stage Entertainment, the parent company of PRIDE Fighting Championships, will file a class-action lawsuit against DSE, according to MMAWeekly.com.

Zuffa LLC (the UFC’s parent company) announced a pending purchase of PRIDE back in March. Owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta said the transfer of power would likely be completely by the first of May, but now — more than three weeks into the month — it still isn’t complete.

The Fertittas planned to create PRIDE FC Worldwide, a Zuffa-owned company, to run the organization. However, it appears that many PRIDE fighters don’t want their contracts swallowed up by the new ownership group. According to the report, they plan to sue for an undisclosed amount of money.

Zach Arnold has been following the purchase as closely as anyone.

As he stated at FightOpinion.com:

If this information is accurate, it reflects positively upon what I have been arguing online for a couple of months now — that the deals PRIDE fighters had with DSE were personal service contracts. PSCs are usually not transferable to third parties in asset sales. Meaning, if DSE sold the PRIDE assets to UFC, the PRIDE fighters would technically be free agents because the PSCs are not enforceable in court.

Since the announcement of the pending sale, two PRIDE shows have been canceled, and some of organization’s top fighters — Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and possibly Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, for example — have signed contract with the UFC.

According to the report:

The class action lawsuit is intended to enable the Pride fighters to either be released from their current contracts and allow them to move on to compete in other MMA organizations; or to be paid for lost wages, training wages (many of the fighters were already preparing for upcoming bouts), and wages surrounding two canceled Pride shows.

Those involved believe DSE has no intention of running anymore shows under the “Pride” label, but many of the fighters under contract were signed exclusively to Pride, with the only provision that would allow them out of the contracts being to show just cause as to why they should be released and allowed to pursue outside interests.

Read the full story at MMAWeekly.com.

Obviously, this is a major story — one that could have major implications on the future of the sale and PRIDE in general.

Unfortunately, though, fight fans are going to have a hard time making sense of the lawsuit. There are just too many unknowns at this point, and the UFC isn’t likely to comment publicly on any pending legislation. Same goes for DSE and even the fighters involved.

Although the lawsuit shouldn’t necessarily affect any upcoming UFC events that are already in the works, the “SuperBowl of MMA” that has been so often teased surely won’t happen until the lawsuit is resolved.
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