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Volume 20 No. 46
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MMA plaintiffs have fight on their hands with boxing’s Arum


federal court has set a hearing for later this week to determine whether MMA fighters suing the UFC can depose hall of fame boxing promoter Bob Arum.

The fighters have already deposed witnesses such as UFC President Dana White and Scott Coker, president of Bellator, an MMA organization that is considered to be the main rival of the UFC.

The fighters allege the UFC is a monopoly that has engaged in anticompetitive practices. The UFC denies those allegations.

Federal Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen will hear arguments on those issues Sept. 28 in Las Vegas. The fighter plaintiffs are still seeking some documents from the UFC and are also seeking to depose Arum, founder and CEO of Top Rank Boxing.

The MMA fighter plaintiffs have a theory that “boxers get a much higher percentage of the revenues than do fighters in the UFC,” said Eric Cramer, a partner at Berger & Montague and one of the lead attorneys for the plaintiffs. “We are trying to take discovery to prove that point.”

Attorneys for promoter Bob Arum are arguing against an attempt to depose their client.

But Arum’s attorneys — David Marroso, a trial lawyer and partner at O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles, and Eric Hone, a sports and entertainment attorney at Dickinson Wright in Las Vegas — argued in court papers, “Plaintiffs have made no effort to show how the promotion of boxing events is sufficiently comparable to the promotion of MMA events such that it could be used as a benchmark here … much less how the financial data and agreements of Top Rank, one boxing promoter, are possibly representative of the boxing industry as a whole.”

“Nor have plaintiffs demonstrated why they need to depose Mr. Arum, who … has no experience in the MMA industry or promoting MMA events, for an entire day,” Arum’s attorneys said.

Cramer said, “People don’t like to be deposed.”

The plaintiffs also sought to depose Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in an effort to hear about Cuban’s efforts to launch an MMA organization in 2007. Cuban and the UFC’s White were involved in a public spat, as well as a lawsuit over Cuban’s HDNet Fights. Cuban is president, CEO and chairman of AXS TV, the successor company to HDNet.

A judge ordered the fighter plaintiffs to first depose White and Andrew Simon, CEO of AXS TV Fights. They withdrew their subpoena of Cuban after deposing White and Simon.

> LABISSIÈRE TO WASSERMAN: Wasserman has signed Sacramento Kings forward/center Skal Labissière for representation.

Thad Foucher and Jason Ranne will represent Labissière, taken with the No. 28 pick in the 2016 draft by Phoenix and then traded to the Kings. He was formerly represented by Independent Sports & Entertainment.

> SPORTSTRUST SIGNS O’LEARY: SportsTrust Advisors has signed Buffalo Bills tight end Nick O’Leary. SportsTrust founder Pat Dye Jr. will represent O’Leary, the grandson of golf hall of famer Jack Nicklaus. He was a sixth-round pick in 2015 and has been without an agent for a while.

> ISE SEEKS NEW CFO: Independent Sports & Entertainment is conducting a search for a new chief financial officer after Richard Rosenstein, whom the company hired earlier this year, took a job as CFO of Clear, a company that provides members with the ability to avoid lengthy waits in airport security lines.

Liz Mullen can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.