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Zach Light sues Bellator MMA for wrongful dismissal, alleges series of ethical breaches by promotion

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Zach Light, once Bellator MMA's Talent Development Director, has filed against his former employer - as well as parent company Viacom - in Los Angeles Superior Court for wrongful dismissal. Light was terminated from his position on March 17, 2016, for which he is seeking damages. In addition, the UFC and Strikeforce veteran makes a series of allegations that Bellator made a series of unethical and perhaps illegal breaches in the course of promoting and staging events.

Light alleges there were a number of incidents of ethical or legal dubiousness which Bellator management met with insoucience. In his complaint, Light claims he became aware of fighters using fraudlent medical reports to obtain licenses and competes. When he brought these matters to Bellator management's attention, Light says, he was sternly rebuffed and his employment with the company threatened. "Approximately 48 hours prior to [Ryan] Martinez's scheduled fight at Bellator 126, [Light] promptly reported what he had learned to Rich Chou, defendant BELLATOR's Vice President of Talent. Chou assured [Light] that he would follow up and that [Light] should focus on his job. When [Light] heard nothing further from Chou, he approached [Bellator President Scott] Coker regarding Martinez' impending fight based on forged medicals, in violation of Arizona law. Coker told [Light] to ‘do what Chou told you to do,' without addressing these issues. Thereafter, [Light] again brought the subject up to Chou. Chou threatened[Light] with termination if he kept pushing the issue. [Light] later learned that after losing his bout, Martinez never resumed his mixed martial arts career."

Light goes on to allege Coker asked Light to set up fights between fighters represented by a manager with a poor relationship with Bellator leadership against fighters who'd likely beat them. This way, Light claims, the company would have standing to release them. This is what Bellator wanted, Light alleges, as revenge against a manager who represented Quinton Jackson at a time when Jackson signed with the UFC while under contract with Bellator.

A number of other allegations are also made, including Light's claim Bellator hired MMA manager Mike Kogan in an official capacity with the company despite being a manager of many fighters who had signed promotional agreements with the company. Light insists Bellator broke with existing regulatory code by creating a conflict an interest where Kogan would collect management fees for fights taking place in the Bellator cage.

Beginning in April of 2015, Light went on eleven months of medical leave for what he says is medically-diagnosed depression after suffering an anxiety attack. He was terminated from his position a week after his leave ended on March 10, 2016.

For a more complete explanation of what's alleged and what it means, read Bloody Elbow's Paul Gift's review of Light's lawsuit.

Bellator MMA had no comment when reached by MMA Fighting. Light's lawsuit can be read in its entirety below:

Zachery Light vs Bellator Sport Worldwide LLC

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