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Editorial: Drakkar Klose could — and probably should — sue Jeremy Stephens after weigh-in injury

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Drakkar Klose suffered a concussion, lost a payday and possibly more because of Jeremy Stephens

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Jeremy Stephens injured Drakkar Klose in April
Drakkar Klose suffered a concussion after Jeremy Stephens shoved him at UFC Vegas 24
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Bad news greeted fight fans on Saturday night. UFC Vegas 24 lost its co-main event on the day of the event. Details were initially sketchy, but the lightweight contest between Jeremy Stephens and Drakkar Klose was off. The message was that an injury had forced Klose from the card. More information followed, and none of it was good.

Klose would be diagnosed with a “brain concussion” and a “sprain of cervical neck.” It was a result of Stephens delivering a two-handed shove to the chest of Klose, whose arms were behind his back at the time, during the UFC weigh-ins.

Not long after, Klose also discussed how he felt after via social media.

After I was pushed by Jeremy at UFC faceoffs, I immediately felt my hand go numb and neck tighten up. Sean Shelby and the UFC officials sent me to the PI to get worked on by the UFC PT staff for 2 hours.

I spent the night eating, rehydrating, stretching, and even saw the PT staff later that night. I woke up early this morning with a migraine/headache, nausea and the only thing that made me feel better was laying in the dark.

UFC got me medicine and I rested for a couple of hours before getting up and vomiting. It was at that point we called the UFC doctor and he made the decision to send me to the hospital.

I’m sorry to everyone who was excited for this fight. I tried to do everything I could to stay in this fight, but these issues are out of my control.

The question now is, how soon would it be before Klose could safely return to action after suffering a concussion because of the reckless and senseless behavior of his scheduled opponent?

Concussion care and recovery is different for everyone, it’s impossible to know how long it will take to recover fully from the brain injury. Careers have ended because of concussions. The UFC, Klose, and his team need to be careful not to rush him back to action. He needs to do as little as possible to allow his brain to recover.

Klose has been with the UFC since 2017. His record with the promotion stands at 5-2. His most recent loss was a March 2020 knockout setback to Beneil Dariush. Before that, Klose was on a three-fight winning streak. Klose earned a reported $40,000 for the Dariush bout. With Klose on the losing end of that contest, it’s likely he was scheduled to make that same amount against Stephens.

The UFC did not answer a request regarding payment to Klose for the Stephens fight. If recent incidents are any indication, if the UFC paid Klose for the scratched fight, it would likely only be a fraction of what his contract showed for the bout.

This is where things get interesting. Stephens actions injured Klose. Those actions cost Klose money, caused him pain, could cost him future earnings and could also involve rehabilitation expenses. Klose, if he wants to recoup some or possibly all of those funds, could sue Stephens.

According to Erik Magraken, who is the managing partner of MacIsaac & Company and runs the CombatSportsLaw website, Klose has options he can pursue.

According to Magraken, “A lawsuit based on assault/battery is not out of the question and such an action could lead to fairly steep financial consequences covering things like lost income, medical expenses, non pecuniary loss and other damages.”

Another lawyer, Jason Cruz also discussed the possible legal ramifications on MMA Payout:

For Klose, he could possibly have a legal action for personal injuries against Stephens on the theory of battery for an unauthorized contact with another causing harm. Damages are the fact he lost out on a chance to earn his show money plus win and potential bonus. Moreover, the damages from his injury.

Practically, this would not happen, but Klose could have a legal claim against the UFC. However, that is unlikely as there’s probably a waiver indemnifying the company from any injury that occurs during fight week including instances like this.

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It’s unlikely any legal proceedings will occur from this incident, but its interesting to point out the potential dangers for MMA fighters that want to get physical before a fight.

Some may look down upon legal action in this case, but no fighter should expect to be injured during a post-weigh in staredown. The action in an MMA bout — or any other combat sport — should remain confined to the combat surface, which in this case, is the octagon.

Stephens has been involved with outside the octagon violence before. In 2012 Stephens was arrested on the day he would have fought Yves Edwards on a UFC on FX fight card. Stephens’ arrest was based on an incident from 2011. According to the Des Moines Register:

The victim had reportedly been asked to leave the bar and was still in the parking lot when Stephens and Bachman emerged soon after.

According to the victim’s wife, Stephens punched the victim in the left eye. The victim leaned against the building and Bachman punched him on the head and face several times, police said.

The victim’s wife helped him get into their car and was trying to lock the doors when Bachman reportedly pulled the victim out of the vehicle by his feet. Stephens and Bachman then allegedly punched and kicked the victim on his head and body for about a minute, authorities said.

The suspects fled. The victim was unconscious and stopped breathing twice, police reports show. He was intubated and taken to the hospital in critical condition.

In 2013, prosecutors dropped the assault and burglary charges against Stephens. The UFC fighter pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Stephens was sentenced to time served and issued an unspecified fine.

The UFC and the Nevada State Athletic Commission did not respond to Bloody Elbow when asked if Stephens would face sanctions or penalties for his actions at the weigh-in.

With Klose being injured and suffering a concussion, he could — and probably should —pursue legal action. His injury did not happen because of his job, it happened because Stephens was incapable of behaving like a professional athlete.