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UFC 249 Fighters Reportedly Face Financial Penalties for Criticizing Health & Safety Protocols, White Defends ‘Anti-Disparagement’ Clause

May 10, 2020 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Dana White UFC, UFC 249

Yahoo! Sports published a column on Saturday on the allegations of UFC fighters facing financial penalties if they were to speak out against the company’s health and safety protocols for COVID-19 at UFC 249. Earlier in the day (May 9), Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza, commented on the situation as well.

Espinoza wrote on Twitter, “It’s because they were required to sign a document which says that they can lose their whole purse and bonuses if they say anything negative about the COVID protocols.”

According to a copy of a contract obtained by Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole, fighters who took part in UFC 249 had to agree to a clause that states their fight purse and possible financial bonuses they earn for last night’s event could be taken away if they “defame or disparage the UFC” over the health and safety measures taken for the event. The document came from an an anonymous third party. It indicates that a fighter could lose their entire fight purse if they violate the disparagement clause. Here is the final sentence of paragraph 7 for the Event Participation Agreement that all fighters were required to sign for UFC 249 (via Yahoo!):

“If the Participant is a Fighter, the Participant hereby acknowledges and agrees that in the event that the Participant breaches this Paragraph 7, the Company may revoke all or any part of any prize monies or awards won by the Participant in connection with the Activities, including, but not limited to, purses, win bonuses, other fight-related bonuses and event-based merchandise royalties.”

Yahoo! Sports later spoke to UFC President Dana White. White confirmed that fighters had to agree to anti-disparagement clause, which he said is included in all of the UFC’s contracts. Additionally, White denied that fighters would face punishment if fighters said something negative about the UFC that was “true.”

White is quoted as saying, “It’s called an anti-disparagement clause and if I know what that is, that scumbag (Espinoza) is a lawyer and you would think he should know what that is.” When asked for clarification on the clause, he added, “If a fighter says something that isn’t true — if he says we didn’t test anyone for this — that would [violate the agreement]. But if he said something that was true, his opinion, then that is different.”

The UFC President was directly asked about Stephen Espinoza’s comments again during the UFC 249 post-fight press conference. White denied Espinoza’s comments were accurate and again spoke about fighters agreeing to a disparagement clause. You can view the post-fight presser video with White HERE or in the player below.

The UFC did come under criticism ahead of the event after it was revealed on Friday that Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and two of his cornermen, tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, Jacare was pulled from the card, and his scheduled fight with Uriah Hall was cancelled. During fight week, footage did surface of Jacare interacting with Fabricio Werdum, who fought on UFC 249. He also fist-bumped Dana White during the UFC 249 weigh-ins, though he was wearing a mask and gloves.

In the video Werdum posted and later deleted from social media, he does appear to be closer than six feet to Jacare, but they do not come into physical contact.

Kevin Iole’s report adds that Espinoza’s tweet is likely in reference to the first part of Paragraph 7 of the Event Participation Agreement. It states that the fighter “will not suggest or communicate to any person or entity that the Activities have been or will be held without appropriate health, safety or other precautions, whether relating to COVID-19 or otherwise.”

UFC 249 was held last night at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. The fight card was closed to the general public. You can read 411’s full report on the event RIGHT HERE.

article topics :

Dana White, UFC 249, Jeffrey Harris