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Days before Mark Hunt’s Octagon return, UFC lawyers file motion to dismiss his lawsuit

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Gallery Photo: UFC 160 photos
Mark Hunt is suing the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Mark Hunt is set to return to the Octagon this weekend, but his fight in the court room is sharing the spotlight.

Hunt filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the UFC, UFC president Dana White and Brock Lesnar in January, claiming racketeering, fraud, negligence and breach of contract, among other complaints, with regards to Lesnar’s failed USADA drug tests in relation to UFC 200.

On Tuesday, the legal team representing the UFC and White filed a motion to dismiss the suit, as expected, per public records. The court will now determine what claims will be thrown out and which will remain in the suit (if any). MMAjunkie first reported the news Tuesday night.

Lesnar tested positive for the banned substance clomiphene in a sample collected prior to his UFC 200 fight with Hunt in July, but the results did not come back until after the bout. The UFC also waived the part of its anti-doping policy that states an athlete returning from retirement must be in the drug-testing pool for four months before competing again. At the time, the UFC stated Lesnar was never a part of the USADA program when he retired back in 2011 and he signed to fight only about a month out of UFC 200.

Lesnar also tested positive for clomiphene, an anti-estrogen agent, in a fight night drug test. USADA has suspended him for the maximum sanction of one year.

In the scathing, 26-page motion to dismiss, J. Colby Williams, of the UFC’s law firm of Campbell & Williams, wrote that Hunt was looking to “stigmatize” the UFC, White and Lesnar “and other individuals with baseless allegations of quasi-criminal conduct in the hopes of reaping a windfall in the form of treble damages.”

A key part of the motion centered around the fact that Hunt’s UFC contract paid him the same whether he won or lost the fight against Lesnar. Hunt ended up losing at UFC 200 by unanimous decision, but the result was later overturned to a no-contest by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) due to Lesnar’s positive drug tests. The NAC also fined Lesnar $250,000 and suspended him one year. Williams wrote that Hunt could not prove he would have benefited more financially by beating Lesnar.

“There is no guarantee that Hunt would have prevailed in his bout with Lesnar at UFC 200 even if the latter had not tested positive for a prohibited estrogen blocker,” he wrote. “Nor is there any guarantee that a Hunt victory at UFC 200 would have resulted in the wholly unspecified ‘promotional and marketing opportunities’ Hunt claims to have lost.”

Williams writes that Hunt’s claim of RICO — the federal racketeering and organized crime law — is “fatally defective.” Hunt’s complaint, written by attorney Christina Denning, alleges that the UFC, USADA, Lesnar and others conspired to allow Lesnar to compete against Hunt while taking a banned substance. It cites a previous case of the UFC allowing Vitor Belfort to fight Jon Jones in 2012 despite Belfort failing a drug test as evidence of a claimed conspiracy.

“Hunt’s panoply of alleged ‘lost opportunities’ likewise fail to establish tangible financial loss to a business or property interest,” Williams wrote in the motion. “By definition, all of the ‘lost opportunities’ about which Hunt complains are contingent events that may—or may not—occur in the future depending on a multitude of factors.”

On the other claims, like fraud, negligence, and breach of contract, Williams writes that Hunt also fails to adequately allege any one of those things, like “any specific false representations upon which Hunt relied, any false writing, or the concrete financial loss necessary to support Hunt’s predicate claims for criminal fraud, obtaining something of value by false pretenses, or conspiracy to commit the foregoing criminal acts.”

“Hunt’s pleading deficiencies likely stem from the fact that Zuffa paid Hunt what was owed to him under the parties’ contracts, a fact which Hunt admits,” Williams wrote. “As for his contractual and quasi-contract claims, Hunt never identifies a single provision of the parties’ contracts that was purportedly breached.”

Hunt’s complaint brings up his past UFC bouts against Antonio Silva and Frank Mir, both of whom also failed fight-night drug tests in relation to fights against Hunt. Williams uses that against him, saying Hunt complained about Silva and Mir yet “nonetheless signed a new Promotional Agreement with Zuffa in April 2016 just one month after his fight with Mir.” Williams also writes that Hunt didn’t necessarily negatively benefit from those fights, since he beat Mir and fought to a draw with Silva.

Williams adds that there is an “utter dearth of specific allegations” against White and that Hunt is making a “gratuitous effort to stigmatize him with baseless allegations of quasi-criminal conduct.”

Hunt and White will likely come face to face this weekend in Las Vegas. Hunt is slated to face Alistair Overeem at UFC 209 on Saturday night. Hunt said on The MMA Hour in January that the UFC “forced” him to take the fight, because they threatened to charge him with breach of contract if he did not.