UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is a more than an MMA star. She has become a bankable fighter of notoriety and one with a myriad of opportunities being put in front of her. In short, and akin to fighters such as Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva, she’s become as much a business as she is a fighter.
Singing with the William Morris Agency in February of last year, Rousey’s marketing game, like her fight game, has gone to the next level. However, in moving to a top-flight entertainment agency such as “WMA” Rousey had to dump her old management team, Fight Tribe Management.
Concordantly, the firm feels aggrieved at losing – what surely must be – their biggest client.
As such, and on March 7th, “FTM” filed a petition for arbitration in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing “Rowdy” as respondent. In the petition, “FTM” is seeking a neutral arbitration of their dispute with Rousey as to whether or not they are legally “considered” her management.
In response to the suit, Rousey’s lawyer, Steven Bash, believes the “FTM’s” petition should be heard by an arbiter from the California State Athletic Commission as opposed to one from the Superior court.
In terms of it, it’s Bash’s legal opinion that Rousey’s fighter agreement with “FTM” falls under the preview of the commissions and not the courts.
As Bash stated to Sherdog.com:
“As far as disagreements go, we don’t have any intention to publicly litigate any dispute or air grievances or dirty laundry about their relationship. The only current issue is whether or not Fight Tribe can legally be considered Ronda Rousey’s manager under well-established California law, and we feel the answer will be no … Today, the fact is, that (representation agreement) is voidable and null and not legally enforceable. Once we get a determination, then we’ll go from there, but that’s really what the issue is today.
“There are very specific laws that govern MMA fighters, boxers, and kickboxers under the California State Athletic Commission and the California Business and Professions Code. The problem is that a third-party, private arbitrator, is not the one that decides these issues. It’s an arbitrator for the California State Athletic Commission that decides disputes between managers and fighters.”
Regarding Rousey’s dismissal of “FTM” Bash sees it as a relationship come to an end, and noting more. And like many relationships, there’s an “emotional component” to it. The inference to drawn, of course, is that “FTM” feels that they have a vested interest in Rousey, and now that she’s made it to the big time they’d like to be paid.
This could prove an interesting case and perhaps food for thought, for all future Rousey-esque fighters. If she wins, then sign with whomever and abrogate the agreement at will when necessary. If she loses, be advised that fighter agreements with management are legally binding.