Jeremy Lappen. Photo by Esther Lin/CombatLifestyle.com.
After several fighters under their stable filed breach of contract notices following its demise late last month, EliteXC and its parent company, ProElite Inc., has given notice to the managers and agents of some of their biggest stars that they intend to promote events once again starting in early 2009.
The managers of notable fighters such as Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, and Robbie Lawler all filed for breach of contract after ProElite announced its intention to cease operations in October, giving the once promising organization 30 days to pay said fighters and fulfill promotional obligations or watch them become free agents.
However a notice handed out by ProElite over the weekend states that contrary to popular belief, the company is not filing for bankruptcy and is merely scaling down their staff in order to cut financial losses.
An excerpt from the notice courtesy of MMA Weekly:
“Elite XC and ProElite are currently downsizing its staff in an effort to improve its business moving forward,” the notice states. “As this process is implemented, Elite XC cancelled the event previously scheduled for Nov. 8 in attempt to re-schedule another event in early 2009.”
According to Diaz’s manager, Cesar Gracie, it’s a move that could prevent fighters under contract with ProElite from moving on to different organizations for the time being. Gracie states that fighters will be unable to compete elsewhere without acquiring permission from ProElite first, making it very unlikely that fighters will be able to lock themselves inside any type of exclusive contracts.
However Monte Cox, who manages Lawler and many other fighters that have fought for ProElite, doesn’t buy the fact that Jeremy Lappen and company are claiming that they intend to promote events in the future and could merely be attempting to hold onto contacts in order to sell them:
“I’m just guessing, but I think they’re trying to keep people to the contracts and sell them,” Cox said. “Or maybe they’re going to try and stay active. It’s hard to say. It appeared to be obvious that they were going to cease operations, and if that’s the case, my guys have got to make a living. If they’re going to continue to fight and they are going to honor the contract, that’s fine, we’ll honor the contract. But (Elite) has to prove to me that they’re really going to do this. Sending me a letter saying we plan to have a fight in 2009, that doesn’t prove to me that you’re going to be in business. So we’re going to need a little more than that.”
My opinion: ProElite is as good as dead and holding onto the fighter contracts is just doing their former employees a disservice. Once guys like Lappen and Chuck Champion realize they shouldn’t hold their fighters hostage any longer and get out of the sport of MMA is the day that the sport will automatically improve and we can all move on from the unneeded drama they provided over the last two years.
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