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Impact FC Stiffs Fighters, Promoters Blaming One Another

Ken Shamrock preparing to fight for free at Impact FC Sydney. Photo by Chris Dela Cruz via <a href=""></a>
Ken Shamrock preparing to fight for free at Impact FC Sydney. Photo by Chris Dela Cruz via

Cage Potato does some excellent reporting:

We learned of the situation Wednesday from one of the affected fighters who wished to remain anonymous, but have since been able to confirm the story with more than a dozen others, including Karo Parisyan, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Jesse Taylor and Brian Ebersole, that none of the cards' participants have received their complete fight purses .

Although most commissions require that fighters be paid before the promoter leaves the arena the night of the show (some even hold onto and distribute the money themselves) none of the men who fought on either show received checks before flying home from Australia. A handful of them have since received partial payment - the most being 75% of what was owed, however most of the fighters we spoke to have yet to receive a dime, despite multiple phone calls they have made and emails they have sent to promoters Tom Huggins and Andrew McManus asking that they be paid.

They get quotes from both partners, first Andrew McManus, the "money mark" blames Tom Huggins, the "MMA veteran" claims that McManus was always the sole responsible party for paying the fighters. Huggins is in Brazil and McManus asserts that he hasn't been able to get a response from him. Huggins, for his part, insists that he has a contract that clearly indicates that McManus agreed to pay all the costs of the events. McManus asserts that he never signed that contract.

There's also an interesting "it's the UFC's fault conspiracy" angle in the full entry, plus Jordan Breen's comments:

A source close to the situation indicated that the UFC purportedly contacted any sponsors of the event who also sponsored UFC or WEC shows and told them in no uncertain terms that if they backed Impact, they would no longer be welcomed as a ZUFFA sponsor. As such, several sponsors pulled out last-minute, adding to the promotion's financial issues.

This strikes me as extremely unlikely. The UFC, sadly, does have a track record of behavior bordering on tortuous interference against major rivals such as M-1 Global, but Impact FC's two cards featuring nothing but UFC castoffs in a minor market does not appear to fit the profile of a promotion that Dana White feels threatened by. 

Jordan Breen, who traveled to Australia to cover both Impact FC events for Sherdog tweeted on the topic today:

re: Impact FC not paying fighters, Tom Huggins indicated to me from the outset that AMP was on the hook for production and payroll costs.

After a weak gate in Brisbane (gate was AMP responsibility to promote), McManus complained. He clearly thought all MMA works like UFC.

For reference, whole Impact model is supposed to be franchising, i.e. Huggins works with different Impact promoters in different countries.

McManus was supposed to be the cashcow in Australia, but clearly didn't understand at all and freaked out when Impact didn't do UFC numbers.

AMP is McManus' company. 

Sadly, this debacle fits an all too common pattern in MMA. Impact FC had all the signs of being a disaster in the making going in:

  • Overly ambitious new promotion aiming to score big on Pay Per View right out of the gate;
  • Money mark financing 
  • Card stocked with (relatively) high dollar veterans who are nonetheless unlikely to draw;
  • Weak or absent regulators that fail to protect the fighters by collecting the fight purses up front;
I really feel sorry for two of the fighters in particular: Ken Shamrock who is openly desperate for money and fighting well past the age where he's competitive; and Karo Parisyan who hasn't fought in over 18 months due to mental health and drug abuse issues. But all of the fighters did their best and don't deserve this kind of treatment. 

There's no place in the sport for promoters who don't live up to their contractual obligations to the fighters, regardless of how poorly their business venture fares. The promoters are the ones assuming the financial risk, the fighters are risking their lives and deserve to be paid.

More BE coverage of Impact FC: The Uprising Sydney

More BE coverage of Impact FC: The Uprising Brisbane