When ImpactFC burst onto the practically non-existent Australian MMA landscape with a slightly crazy plan of having several events back to back with a who’s who of expensive low-draw fighters, it raised a lot of eyebrows. If you’ve been around the MMA scene for long enough, you’ll have seen several promotions come around promising big events with big names and then as the date approaches the event implodes in spectacular fashion as the Sketchy McSketchertons throwing things don’t have enough money in ticket sales to pay for anything.
Now ImpactFC managed to pull off two events with pretty much all the fighters they promised, minus Bob Sapp. But any congratulations given for getting the events done are premature because now we’re learning that half the fighters on the cards haven’t gotten paid. CagePotato gets the scoop:
Impact’s purported financial backer, Andrew McManus who also owns and operates an Australian-based concert promotion firm and is the former promoter of the failed World Wrestling All-Stars professional wrestling organization that dissolved in 2003 after only two years of existence, claims that he was duped by Huggins.
Here is the statement he made to us via email:
“[Tom] Huggins has run back to Brazil and is uncontactable, whilst I (who never negotiated, contracted or was a party to any deal) have now been left trying to find funds to pay the men whilst all the false promises of sponsorships (never happened) and late gate sales and walk up all turned out to be lies,” McManus wrote.
A source close to the situation indicated that the UFC purportedly contacted any sponsors of the event who also sponsored UFC or WEC shows and told them in no uncertain terms that if they backed Impact, they would no longer be welcomed as a ZUFFA sponsor. As such, several sponsors pulled out last-minute, adding to the promotion’s financial issues.
Huggins, who has managed a number of fighters including Jorge Gurgel, Mario Sperry and Murilo Bustamante and has been involved with a number of MMA promotions in some capacity in his nearly 16 years in the sport — most recently as the executive production consultant for the Brazilian-based Bitetti Combat organization, had this to say in response to McManus’ email:
“That statement is categorically untrue. I can provide you with the agreement between Andrew and myself, which clearly demonstrates that my responsibility was to procure fighters and make matches for the event within a given budget. The agreement clearly shows that ALL of the financing for the events, including fighter purses, was the responsibility of McManus,” Huggins wrote in his reply. “That being said, I feel that at the end of the day McManus being the professional that he is will fulfill his obligations and that the fighters will be paid.”
JoBreen points towards McManus being a clueless sucker who thought his ImpactFC shows would be received with the same crowds, press, and profits the UFC got from UFC 110. If that’s the case, he wouldn’t be the first. MMA has a long history of drawing in guys with a lot of money but not enough sense to realize you can’t just magically start competing with the UFC out of the gate. Some learn this before their first event even happens. Others take a few events, and then there’s a lot that last two or three years before imploding. But it usually ends up the same: someone sitting there with a lot less money in their pockets wondering where it all went wrong.
Paid: Ken Shamrock, Pedro Rizzo
Unpaid: Karo Parisyan (aaaaw, bro), Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Jesse Taylor, Jeff Monson, Brian Ebersole, Denis Kang, Murilo Bustamante