Mark Hunt’s loss to Brock Lesnar in UFC 200 was overturned to a no contest last year, but now he plans to win in court. On Tuesday, the heavyweight fighter filed a lawsuit against UFC, its President Dana White and Lesnar alleging they broke a federal law that was originally set up to prosecute mafia racketeers in the 1970s.
“Cheaters deserve nothing!” Hunt said via his website on Wednesday. “These guys are cheating and they should be in court for it. [They should] lose all of their money if they’re cheating, because if I die in [the octagon], who’s going to look after my family?”
Hunt is seeking damages totaling at least Lesnar’s disclosed $2.5 million purse, plus a share of the pay-per-view payout from the July 9 event, citing damage to Hunt’s reputation, fight career and marketing abilities, as well as lost opportunities to engage in fair competition. Hunt is also seeking lawyers fees and other relief under the guise that the defendants committed fraud and other crimes prosecutable under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which Congress passed in 1970 to tie mafia bosses to the corrupt actions of their lower-ranked employees. The law has since been used in a more broad context, allowing individuals to sue any enterprise if they can demonstrate that enterprise has engaged in certain criminal activity.
The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada, alleges the UFC, Lesnar and White violated RICO by running a “scheme” that resulted in clean fighters unfairly facing fighters who the promotion knew were using performance-enhancing drugs. It also alleges the promotion engaged in these activities “to the detriment of the health and safety of all fighters, and to the monetary benefit of [the UFC] and others involved in this scheme.”
The lawsuit says UFC, Lesnar, White and others “affirmatively circumvented and obstructed fair competition for their own benefit” by willfully disregarding the promotion’s anti-doping policy.
“Defendants have accomplished this by means including but not limited to various and rampant purported use exemptions, drug testing exemptions and by failure to enforce its own policies,” states the lawsuit filed in a U.S. District Court in Nevada on Tuesday.
Hunt’s case rests on the UFC’s anti-doping policy, which is overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Under the policy, retired fighters are supposed to undergo four months of random drug testing before being allowed to once again compete. The UFC, however, granted an exemption for Lesnar under a clause that allows the promotion to waive the mandatory tests under “exceptional circumstances.”
“Given Lesnar last competed in UFC on December 30, 2011, long before the UFC Anti-Doping Policy went into effect [on July 1, 2015], for purposes of the Anti-Doping Policy, he is being treated similarly to a new athlete coming into the organization,” the promotion stated (via Bloody Elbow) in June, when Lesnar announced he’d be coming back for the “one-off” bout.
Lesnar was later found to have failed both an out-of-competition and in-competition test for the two banned substances commonly used in conjunction with anabolic steroids.
The lawsuit alleges the exemption came just a month before UFC sold for more than $4 billion to Hollywood talent agency WME-IMG, and accuses UFC “of wrongfully jeopardizing fighter health and safety for profit.”
“That’s corrupt s—, man,” said Hunt, who made $700,000 for the UFC 200 bout. “These mother——- should be penalized hard. Dirty, scummy, cheating scum.”
Lesnar, who agreed to pay a $250,000 fine is currently serving a one-year ban for the failed tests, was the third opponent Hunt faced that was later found to have failed a drug test.
Hunt’s attorney Christina Denning said her client attempted to settle with the UFC twice before filing the lawsuit. Both times, she told The Washington Post on Wednesday, she and her client approached the UFC with deals that would provide Hunt with Lesnar’s winnings and add a clause to his UFC contract that would automatically award Hunt winnings going forward should any future opponents also fail drug tests.
“To put a clause like this in fighters’ contracts, it’s no money out of the UFC’s pocket,” Denning said. “We’re not asking them to pay anything additional, we’re just asking them to include in all bout agreements a provision that says that the cheater has to forfeit to the non-cheater all of the profits. This happens in other sports.”
“What incentive does Brock Lesnar have not to cheat if he can have this one-off competition and walk off with [millions of dollars] if he know the precedent is to get fined a small fraction of that?” Denning added. “If the UFC wants to put its money where it’s mouth is, this is really going to make it the world’s best anti-doping program.”
UFC, which will have 30 days to reply once served, declined to comment.
The Washington Post is attempting to contact Lesnar.