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Report: Phil Baroni moved to state prison ahead of hearing on murder charges

The former UFC and PRIDE talent could face up to 50 years in prison, for the apparent murder of his girlfriend at the Jardin San Pancho Hotel in Bahia de Banderas, Mexico earlier this month.

Phil Baroni attends a charity poker tournament in 2015.
Phil Baroni attends a charity poker tournament in 2015.
Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

As the potential murder case against former UFC and PRIDE talent Phil Baroni prepares to move forward, ESPN Deportes’ Carlos Contreras Legaspi reports that authorities have transferred the 46-year-old New York native from the local jail cell where he had been held on suspicion of killing a woman, so far only referred to as “Paola.”

According to Baroni’s claims, he had apparently been living with the woman at a hotel in the Bahia de Banderas region of Mexico, when the two quarreled over her revelation to the former fighter that she had cheated on him. In a statement to local police, Baroni is reported to have said that he picked the woman up and threw her into the shower, where she struck her head multiple times. He then moved her to the bed and left the room, to get cigarettes and beer at the woman’s request. He went on to claim that she was unresponsive when he returned, and could not be revived, which is when he contacted authorities.

Counter to Baroni’s story, the police report that the woman showed multiple injuries not just to her head, but to her legs, arms, and torso. Baroni has also claimed that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time.

In preparation for a Monday hearing to confirm Baroni’s legal status to stand trial, authorities have reportedly transferred him to the CERESO Estatal (state prison) in Tepic. The Tepic prison is notorious for its overcrowding, lack of oversight, and poor conditions.

As of a June 2022 study, that noted the prison as one of Mexico’s worst for 11 years running, the Tepic facility houses 1,865 inmates in a compound designed to hold just 894. The study also noted that a lack of adequate staffing meant that the prison was especially susceptible to extortion and bribery, and the that inmates had created their own authority systems within the prison structure.

According to Legaspi’s report, assuming Baroni’s trial goes ahead, the ‘New York Bad Ass’ will likely be facing 30-50 years in prison on murder charges.

About the author: Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. Host of the MMA Vivisection and 6th Round, he has covered MMA and the UFC since 2013. (full bio)