Nearly two weeks ago, Zuffa LLC sued Bellator Fighting Championships for allegedly stealing "trade secrets and confidential Zuffa documents." Now, Bellator is returning the favor, suing Zuffa for signing Jonathan Brookins to appear on "The Ultimate Fighter 12" while Brookins was still under exclusive contract to Bellator, MMAJunkie.com reports.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has learned that Bellator Sport Worldwide, LLC today filed suit against Zuffa in a New Jersey court and alleges that "The Ultimate Fighter 12" cast member Jonathan Brookins (11-3 MMA, 1-0 BFC) joined the Spike TV reality series while still under an exclusive contract for Bellator.
Brookins and his manager Mickey Dubberley were also named as defendants in the suit.
According to the suit, Brookins signed an "exclusive promotional contract" with Bellator in March 2009.
Brookins debuted with Bellator in April 2009 with a submission win over Stephen Ledbetter in a non-tournament affair. Brookins followed up those fights with a pair of wins under the G-Force Fights banner. Bellator's suit contends they signed off on each of the two fights outside of their promotion.
However, Bellator contends when it came to an appearance on "The Ultimate Fighter," Brookins did not seek permission. In fact, the complaint states that Brookins manager actually lied to Bellator about his client's status.
"We've been offering the fighter fights, and hindsight being 20-20, we were lied to by his management saying he was injured and couldn't accept fights," Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney today told MMAjunkie.com.
Dubberley says his client, Brookins, did nothing wrong and, according to the report, had been verbally released by Bellator matchmaker Sam Caplan.
"That is a complete and total fabrication that couldn't be further from the truth," Rebney said. "Sam has been repeatedly trying to get Jonathan to accept fights. We've been told he was injured. We were lied to.
"We wouldn't release Jonathan. We count ourselves fortunate to have signed him. ... At Bellator, we function as a professional organization. If and win we release fighters, we do so on paper. We don't do so verbally. We follow a pretty standard form of practice in this industry. That is a ridiculous comment at it's most basic level."
Bellator's suit requests exemplary damages on the counts of tortious interference with contract, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, breach of contract (against Brookins), fraud, business information misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment.
It will be interesting to see how this affects Zuffa's lawsuit against Bellator. I'm no legal expert, but I certainly could see each promotion agreeing to drop the lawsuits and calling it even.