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Its high time for athletic commissions to dig into MMA manager practices | Opinion

Nate Quarry says there is evidence that some MMA managers will take less money for their fighter clients to curry favor with the UFC.

Rretired MMA fighter Nate Quarry recently published quite the tweet. I'll let it speak for itself.

If this was revealed in any major league sport, it would be top news on ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and probably major outlets outside of sports. But in MMA ... crickets.

Let me break down the legal scandal in plain English.

Managers represent their clients. They owe them a "fiduciary duty" meaning they must put their clients' best career financial interests first. The most basic fighter financial interest is negotiating the best payday for their bouts.

If a manager says to the opposing side of a negotiation, "We will take even less so you know I am easy to work with," then they are looking to do one thing – line their own pockets by short-changing their clients. That is a breach of fiduciary duty.

Many North American athletic commissions license MMA managers. The standards for who qualifies are basically non-existent, letting grossly underqualified people represent others' career financial interests for profit. This needs to change.

But even with lax standards in place, something like this should not be tolerable to commissions. Many have the power to suspend or revoke the license of someone who brings disrepute to the sport. A manager throwing their own clients under the bus to curry favor with a promoter certainly does that.

To look at two quick examples. the Nevada Commission enjoys the power to:

"suspend or revoke the license, approval, registration or sanctioning of, impose a ban on participation in unarmed combat in this State for a certain period against, otherwise discipline, or take any combination of such actions against, a person licensed, approved, registered or sanctioned by the Commission or otherwise associated with unarmed combat in this State who has, in the judgment of the Commission…Engaged in conduct at any time or place which is deemed by the Commission to reflect discredit to unarmed combat."

The New York State Athletic Commission regulations note:

"Any license, temporary work permit or other authorization issued under the provisions of this article may be revoked or suspended by the commission when the licensee, permittee or authorized entity has, in the judgment of the commission, violated any provision of this article, rule or order of the commission, demonstrated conduct detrimental to the interests of authorized combative sports generally or to the public interest."

There are countless examples of Commissions throwing the book at license holders for seemingly insignificant infractions. The Nick Diaz marijuana ban comes to mind. If commissions really want to exercise their powers for the protection of fighters, a story like this should be looked into with their full resources.


Author Erik Magraken is a British Columbia litigation lawyer, combat sports law consultant, combat sports law blogger, and deeply, deeply appreciated UGer.