Chael Sonnen grapples Andre Galvao in the main event of Metamoris 4 in Los Angeles on Saturday, but the Nevada Athletic Commission has threatened him with a $250,000 fine if he does so.
On July 23, 2014 you personally appeared with legal counsel before the Nevada State Athletic Commission (the "Commission") for a disciplinary hearing. You testified under oath regarding your use of five drugs that are prohibited at all times: Anastrozole, Clomifene, Erythropoletin, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, and Human Growth Hormone. While under oath, you promised that you would not fight in any jurisdiction during your two-year suspension.
Despite your promise, the Commission's reliance on your promise when it determined discipline, I now see that you had already scheduled a fight in California on August 8, 2014. Be advised that the occurrence of any fight is a breach of the Commission's Order and will subject you to further proceedings before the Commission. In addition, should you breach your agreement, the Commission reserves the fight to rescind the penalty imposed against you and reconsider a different form of punishment for your admitted violations.
Francisco V. Aguilar, Chairman
Sonnen reached out to Randy Couture to see if "The Natural" would take his place if necessary, but media duties around the Sunday debut of "Gym Rescue" and the Saturday LA debut of “Expendables 3” unfortunately made it impossible.
This would not have been a first for Couture who grappled Ronaldo 'Jacare' Santos in the main event of 'X-Mission' back in 2008.
The Brazilian site Combate obtained copies of messages from Sonnen's attorney Ross C. Goodman to NAC chairman Francisco Aguilar seeking a solution. Metamoris is in California not Nevada, and no athletic commission in the USA regulates grappling, so the contest does not appear to break any rules.
Further, the event was marketed for a month before the NAC sought to block the match. And Aguilar himself told Combate on video that grappling was not subject to regulation.
Sonnen's attorney Ross Goodman sent two letters to the NAC; via Guilherme Cruz for MMAFighting.
"Absent any specific definition of ‘fighting,’ it is reasonable to presume that the NSAC intended only to limit Mr. Sonnen’s 2 year suspension to MMA, boxing and other forms of unarmed combat for which NSAC is vested with jurisdiction,""Specifically, the NSAC is vested under NRS 467.070 with ‘management, control and jurisdiction over all contests or exhibitions of unarmed combat to be conducted.’ The term ‘unarmed combat’ is defined in NRS 467.0107 as ‘boxing or any form of competition in which a blow is usually struck which may reasonably be expected to inflict injury.’
"There is no dispute that the NSAC has no jurisdiction or authority to regulate, license or sanction jiu-jitsu and other forms of grappling. Moreover, jiu-jitsu does not fall within the Nevada definition of unarmed combat because it does not involve ‘blows’ of any kind. Likewise, it would be a violation of due process to expand the interpretation of ‘fighting’ broader than the statutory definition of unarmed combat. In our view, there could be no violation under NRS 467.885 as any interpretation to include jiu-jitsu or grappling would be outside of the NSAC’s jurisdiction and constitute an invalid order."
"In light of the short notice raised by your letter, we respectfully request that you reconsider the NSAC’s position relating to the expanded definition of ‘fighting’ which precludes Mr. Sonnen from fulfilling his contractual obligation with Metamoris 4. Any breach of this contract by Mr. Sonnen would certainly result in future litigation for loss of revenue sales."
The purpose of Sonnen's suspension is to prevent him from realizing financial gain from competing in combat sports. From that perspective, the prohibition on competing in Metamoris is understandable. However, grappling is not a fight, as there is not striking. Boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts are fights. Judo, BJJ, wrestling, pro wrestling, and grappling are not fights, despite various marketing attempts to cast them as such.
Further, the delay of nearly a month in letting Sonnen know he could not compete is not reasonable. It is not fair to promoter Ralek Gracie, it is not fair to the fans, and it is not fair to Chael Sonnen.
NSAC chairman Aguilar has said he will not alter the stance on Chael Sonnen ahead of Metamoris 4.
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