DOWNEY, Calif. — The attorney representing a 19-year-old California man in a lawsuit against UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping, the UFC and the UFC’s parent company has responded to public comments on the case recently made by Bisping and UFC president Dana White.
At a recent media lunch, Bisping called the suit, filed over a July 31 incident at a 24-Hour Fitness in Anaheim, Calif., in which Bisping is alleged to have choked Antonio Georgakopolous, “total bollocks.” White, on a podcast, referred to the plaintiff as a ‘meathead’ and a ‘p*ssy.’”
In a Thursday press conference, Gavril T. Gabriel, who represents Georgakopolous, said that White’s words reflect a bullying culture in the UFC that comes from the top down, which sends the signal to Bisping that he can act with impunity.
“In that podcast, Dana White called my client ‘an f-ing meathead,’ a typical ‘p-u-s-s’ and I won’t finish the rest of that, that he should shut his face in the first place, that he’s a clown and a tough guy,” Gabriel said. “I don’t think Dana White has ever met my client. If he did, he’d know those statements are completely false, and his sole purpose is to tarnish his image.
“Dana White will also be held accountable for his false statements for not only for allowing Bisping to engage in the conduct that is outlined in the complaint, but encouraging this kind of bullying behavior by Michael Bisping,” Gabriel continued.
Gabriel also addressed comments by Bisping which questioned the timing of the lawsuit, which is coming to light the week of his UFC 217 middleweight title defense against Georges St-Pierre, and that the Georgakpolous, who was not in attendance at the press conference, was simply seeking publicity.
“Mr. Bisping, he’s quoted as saying this lawsuit is very tactical,” Gabriel said. “Well, this lawsuit is not tactical. My client hired me to adjudicate his rights and to ensure justice is served for the lawsuit he suffered. Next, he’s not looking for publicity, this being my client. He wants to continue living life as a 19-year-old college student. The last thing he wants is to be in front of a camera.”
According to the complaint filed in California Superior Court, Bisping yelled at Georgakopolous before choking him for two to three seconds, and that Georgakopolous had “intense throat pain” the next day and saw a specialist, who recommended treatment.
The complaint also stated Georgakopolous had “nightmares, difficulty sleeping and anxiety” as a result of Bisping’s actions. Gavril declined to specify what specific injury Georgakopolous suffered, invoking client privilege.
“The next comment made by Mr. Bisping, and this is via MMAFighting.com, this lawsuit is ‘total bullocks,’ it’s ‘completely infactual, there is many contradictions, and it’s just not correct,’” Gabriel said. “If you take some time to read the complaint, you’ll understand that nothing in there is made up, nothing is not supported by witnesses. So I’d encourage everyone to read the complaint and make a decision for yourself.”
The suit names Bisping, the UFC, UFC parent company Endeavor (formerly WME-IMG), and 24-Hour Fitness.
In comments to MMA Fighting after the press conference, Gabriel said that while it’s not unusual for persons named in a lawsuit to publicly comment on a pending case, name-calling is.
“I think it’s a reflection of the culture that’s being allowed by Dana White,” Gabriel said. “Obviously a business, an organization starts from the top, you can see from Dana White all the way to Michael Bisping, they’re bullies, they can say whatever they want and do whatever they want and get away with it.”