MMAWC, LLC filed a lawsuit on Monday in Clark County District Court describing itself as the “Las Vegas-based company that formerly promoted professional events in the sport of mixed martial arts,” seemingly suggesting that either a new entity has acquired WSOF assets or WSOF’s days as an MMA promoter are over.
MMAWC along with Bruce Deifik, who Bloody Elbow previously reported as MMAWC’s majority owner, are suing ACAK Irrevocable Trust, Shawn Lampman, Sally Story (Lampman’s mother and ACAK trustee), Ralph Lampman (Shawn’s brother), Aymet Roman-Perez, and Arthur LaFond for civil conspiracy and breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
Most of the named defendants have sued WSOF and/or Deifik in the past eight months. In June 2016, Shawn Lampman’s brother Ralph sued WSOF for allegedly violating the terms of a $321,000 bridge loan. In July 2016, Arthur LaFond sued WSOF and Deifik for allegedly violating an agreement involving domain name purchases and management. In August 2016, Shawn Lampman’s former girlfriend Aymet Roman-Perez sued WSOF and Deifik for fraudulent inducement and intentional infliction of emotional distress in the sale of her 1.5% ownership stake in the promotion. And in January 2017, Shawn Lampman sued Deifik, WSOF, and NBC Sports for an alleged scheme to “actively oust” Lampman from involvement in WSOF’s management.
Deifik’s lawsuit centers around the contractual language of his May 5, 2015 purchase of ACAK’s 26.19 member units in MMAWC and an alleged May 6, 2016 settlement agreement with ACAK and Story. According to Deifik, the ACAK purchase agreement allegedly included a release from all claims and potential liabilities and a covenant not to sue, while the purported settlement agreement allegedly warranted that ACAK had no ownership rights to MMAWC.
According to the complaint:
Notwithstanding prior releases and covenants not to sue, between June 2016 and up to and including January 2017, the ACAK family members and friends filed a series of coordinated and concerted demand for payment lawsuits against MMAWC and the Deifik Parties. The ulterior purpose of the coordinated demands and claims is to commit unlawful acts, including, among other things, extortion, conversion, and the infliction of economic duress to coerce payments and interfere with MMAWC's business, interests, and business transactions.
Deifik is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, but the biggest news is the wording that MMAWC is “f/k/a [formerly known as]” WSOF and “formerly promoted” professional MMA events. What could make MMAWC a former MMA promoter? The two most obvious answers – with dramatically different consequences for fighters and fans – would seem to be (1) MMAWC’s WSOF assets were transferred to another business entity or (2) WSOF has folded.
Considering WSOF’s cancellation of two events late last year, the bleak prospects for the performance of WSOF’s New Year’s Eve show in New York City, the recent postponement of WSOF 35 from February to March, and allegations of financial issues in court documents as well as the rumor mill, it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if WSOF met its demise. But an event postponement could also make sense if another entity has acquired its assets, especially if there’s a new investor onboarding people onto the management team.
Either way, something appears to have happened at the oft-maligned MMA promotion.
E-mail and voice messages for WSOF President Ray Sefo were not returned as of this writing. On Thursday, former WSOF Vice President and current MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz messaged Bloody Elbow, “I just you know don’t thank [sic] wsof done at all all my guys have fights coming up soon.”
Paul is Bloody Elbow’s analytics and business writer. Follow him @MMAanalytics.