A fan who allegedly purchased four tickets to UFC 200, the promotion’s landmark event last July 9 that was set to be headlined by a title unification bout featuring Jon Jones, has taken his frustrations to court. On August 19, Sean Slattery filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court against Jones and his managers, First Round Management, for concealment, negligent misrepresentation, and negligence relating to the interim champ’s flagged drug test results and subsequent removal from the UFC 200 fight card just three days before the event.
According to the complaint, Slattery is an MMA fan who purchased tickets to UFC 200 “for the express purpose” of watching Jones. He alleges, “Just before the fight, however, Jones was dropped from the fight card after officials learned that he had tested positive for banned performance-enhancing and/or masking substances. Plaintiff was thus robbed and defrauded of the value of the tickets, wherein he suffered both economic and non-economic harm, as a result of Jones’s actions in violating anti-doping regulations, and First Round’s complicity therein. In the alternative, Jones failed to disclose other controlled substances, and in doing so was negligent, to the relevant testing officials which again deprived Plaintiff of the value of his tickets.”
Slattery goes on to allege that Jones and First Round Management “created a duty” to the ticket-buying public to act reasonably in advance of his fight, “…including but not limited to refraining from the administration of banned substances to Jones or failure to disclose prescription medication to testing officials, and/or taking measures to ensure that ostensibly non-banned supplement mixtures did not in fact did contain banned substances.”
During a July 18 Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) hearing, it was revealed that Jones tested positive for Hydroxy-clomiphene, an anti-estrogenic substance, and Letrozole, an aromatase inhibitor, two estrogen blockers sometimes used following a cycle of steroids.
A recent report from Ariel Helwani stated that the two drugs in question are considered “specified substances” under the World Anti-Doping Agency Code. Due to a greater likelihood of “a credible non-doping explanation,” positive test results for specified substances could lead to as little as a public warning or up to a maximum one-year suspension from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
In addition to USADA, the NAC could also impose suspensions and fines following a hearing which is expected to be held later this year.
Slattery’s lawsuit adds yet another twist to the long-running saga of Jones trying to get back his undisputed UFC light heavyweight title belt. If the case doesn’t get dismissed or settle, it could lead to Jones being deposed and having to answer questions under oath about possible performance-enhancing drug use, but that would be a ways off. A case management conference is currently scheduled for Feb. 3, 2017.
In the complaint, Slattery claims his ticket purchase was non-refundable, a statement potentially at odds with the UFC July 6 press release which said ticket refunds were available upon request at the primary point of purchase. Slattery is seeking special, general, and punitive damages to be determined at a later date.
First Round Management CEO Malki Kawa said he could not comment on the suit as he had not yet seen it.
Paul is Bloody Elbow’s business and analytics writer. Follow him at @MMAanalytics.