Posted by: Robert Joyner on Aug 02, 2010
Roy Nelson enters the cage later this week in what could possibly be a career changing match-up with heavy hitter Junior Dos Santos, but his showdown with the Brazilian striker is not the only opponent he is staring down these days. Nelson, as well his overseers at Zuffa, are facing off in court with another combat sport participant that goes by Junior - Roy Jones Jr, that is. RJJ and his Square Ring, Inc. (SRI) filed suit in late Spring in Nevada court against both Nelson and Zuffa, alleging that the two parties acted together to deprive SRI of its' contractual rights.
Nelson initially entered into a relationship with RJJ and SRI when participating against Jeff Monson on the Boxing/MMA March Badness PPV, which was headlined by Roy Jones Jr. vs Omar Sheika. In his contract for the fight, SRI alleges that Nelson granted "exclusive first negotiation rights" on subsequent fights and under certain conditions the right to match any offers that Nelson received in the future.
Nelson would continue to work with Square Ring after his fight vs Monson. Nelson served as an advisor to Square Ring matchmaker for a mixed boxing and mma event on May 24th, 2009 in Primm, Nevada. The suit claims that UFC VP Marc Ratner was at said event and met with Square Ring CEO John Wirt. In the process of their conversation Wirt alerted Ratner to the fact that Nelson was assisting at the event in a matching making role and also stated that Nelson was an under contract Square Ring, Inc. fighter. The case states that Ratner later met separately with Nelson while at the Primm event. After the event, in late May/early June, SRI alleges that Nelson would negotiate first with Zuffa, did not provide SRI with the opportunity to match the Zuffa offer, and would sign an exclusive promotional agreement with Zuffa. SRI alleges that all these actions violated their agreement with Nelson. SRI also alleges that bouts that Nelson participated in while competing in the TUF 10 season were also in violation of the agreement. Zuffa was enjoined to the suit by SRI claiming that it was Zuffa's intent to disrupt the contractual relationship between SRI and Nelson and intentional interference in their contractual relationship. SRI is seeking punitive damges in excess of $10,000 against both Nelson and Zuffa.
On an ironic note, a win by Nelson this week-end could possibly end up hurting him and Zuffa in the court case. A win over Dos Santos could result in a possible show down with the winner of Lesnar-Velasquez, a money match-up that could significantly boost his value. SRI could seek to argue for larger punitive damages due to this increased value in the market. Zuffa is sure to counter with the argument that any and all value was created due to Zuffa(via their dominance in the market, media saturation, etc.) and that SRI would have created no value in Nelson. It should be interesting to see if this is a case that makes it to trial or if some other form of settlement.