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Mark Hunt lawsuit survives UFC motion to dismiss, moves forward with amended complaint

UFC 200 Weigh-ins
Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt face off before UFC 200 in 2016.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Mark Hunt got good news regarding his lawsuit against the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar recently.

Last week, the suit survived a motion to dismiss by the defendants and Thursday Hunt’s attorneys filed an amended complaint in U.S. District Court (District of Nevada). Hunt is alleging the UFC, White and Lesnar committed racketeering, fraud, battery and civil conspiracy with regards to Lesnar’s failed drug test at UFC 200.

In the amended complaint, obtained by MMA Fighting, Hunt claims that the UFC, White and Lesnar knew Lesnar was using performance-enhancing drugs ahead of his UFC 200 bout with Hunt, cleared the way for Lesnar to get by USADA and then let him fight anyway. It further claims that Hunt was damaged both financially and physically by what attorneys have alleged was a criminal conspiracy.

“LESNAR, WHITE, and UFC, acted in concert as set forth fully above, to defraud HUNT and commit a battery against HUNT by a scheme to knowingly pit HUNT, a clean fighter, against LESNAR, a doping fighter, to the wrongful benefit of Defendants and to the detriment of HUNT,” the complaint reads.

Lesnar tested positive for the banned substance clomiphene in a USADA pre-fight, out-of-competition test and then popped for the same substance on fight night. The pre-fight test result did not come back before UFC 200, so Lesnar was able to fight and defeat Hunt by unanimous decision. Lesnar was later suspended by both USADA and the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) and fined $250,000 by the NAC. The victory was overturned by the NAC to a no contest.

Included in the complaint is an interesting back-and-forth text exchange allegedly between Hunt and White in which Hunt expresses early on that he’s concerned about Lesnar being on performance-enhancing drugs.

Hunt asked White on June 8, just two days after the fight was officially announced by the UFC, what would happen if Lesnar is “positive for cheating.” White wrote back that “USADA is testing the shit outta him.”

That was partially true. The UFC waived its rule stating returning fighters must be in the USADA testing program for four months before competing again for Lesnar. Lesnar was only tested beginning about one month out of UFC 200. Lesnar did pass multiple USADA tests in June before a June 28 sample — taken 11 days prior to the July 9 fight — came back positive after UFC 200.

Hunt asked White about that waiver via text, per the complaint, and White replied that the UFC “made a move to get a deal done” with Vince McMahon of WWE to get Lesnar a fight. Lesnar was and is under exclusive contract to WWE, the pro-wrestling promotion.

“We went after Brock,” White texted to Hunt. “He has no problem doing whatever tests USADA wants.”

In the amended complaint, Hunt’s attorneys Christina Denning, Scott Ingold and Joseph Gonnella claim that the UFC, White and Lesnar were intentionally pushing back the signing of the bout agreement and announcement until as late as possible so Lesnar could avoid USADA until that time. Lesnar said in interviews that he had begun discussing a contract with the UFC months earlier, though the actual deal was only signed in early June.

“On information and belief, WHITE and UFC were intentionally delaying the announcement because LESNAR was using banned substances and needed additional time in order to circumvent testing procedures,” the complaint reads.

The UFC said at the time that it exempted Lesnar from the four-months-of-testing-rule because he was not under the USADA program back in 2011 when he first retired and the rule was intended for people who left the program and then later returned to it.

Hunt’s attorneys likely included the text exchange in the complaint to show Hunt’s concern about Lesnar being on prohibited substances at that early juncture. In media interviews leading up to the fight, Hunt said he knew Lesnar was “juicing,” but didn’t care and would knock him out anyway. The UFC’s attorneys highlighted that in their initial motion to dismiss.

Also in the complaint is a list of multiple appearances and endorsements that Hunt lost due to falling to Lesnar at UFC 200 as well as multiple exchanges with White showing that Hunt was attempting to build his personal brand on social media and otherwise. Hunt asked White if a documentary crew could follow him around at UFC 200, per the complaint, and the UFC turned him down.

The complaint mentions failed drug tests by two previous Hunt opponents, Frank Mir and Antonio Silva, and a sketchy Vitor Belfort drug test before his fight with Jon Jones in 2012 as alleged evidence of the UFC’s questionable handling of doping situations.

“Had HUNT known of WHITE, UFC and LESNAR’s doping scheme, HUNT would have declined the fight, negotiated a far more lucrative agreement contemplating a clean fighter being subjected to hand-to-hand combat with a doping fighter, or otherwise protected his interests,” the complaint read.

Hunt is seeking compensatory damages, treble damages “pursuant to stature,” and “punitive damages sufficient to deter illegal doping in the sport of mixed martial arts.” He’s also asking the court for the defendants to expel their “ill-gotten profits.”

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