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Blackzilians owner Glenn Robinson seeking court injunction against Henri Hooft for alleged violation of non-compete

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Glenn Robinson (center) and the Blackzilians in happier times, after Kamaru Usman won The Ultimate Fighter in 2015.
Glenn Robinson (center) is taking former Blackzilians coach Henri Hooft to court.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The ugly break up of the Blackzilians has now spilled into the court room.

Blackzilians and Jaco Hybrid Training Center owner Glenn Robinson is seeking a court order against coach Henri Hooft for the alleged violation of a non-compete clause, MMA Fighting has confirmed via Broward County (Fla.) court records. MMAjunkie was the first to report the news Wednesday.

In the civil complaint filed June 14, Robinson claims that Hooft broke the “restrictive covenant” of his contract with Jaco Hybrid Training Center when he began coaching and performing managerial duties for fighters at the Combat Club gym nearby in South Florida.

Per the complaint, Hooft was prohibited from performing during the two-year non-compete period “any services, in any matter whatsoever, similar to or competitive with the services provided offered by” the Blackzilians and Jaco Hybrid Training Center. He was also barred from recruiting athletes to another team for three years after the contract was up.

The Blackzilians MMA team as many knew it broke apart last year after Robinson’s health and financial issues, though some fighters have remained with Robinson. Hooft departed after a dispute with Robinson and ended up at the Combat Club in Lantana, Fla., about 30 miles from the Blackzilians in Pompano Beach. Hooft has said in interviews that he didn’t leave to form his own team, but Blackzilians fighters had nowhere to train and they ended up with him at Combat Club.

Robinson is seeking an “injunction or equitable relief” with the lawsuit. He is only asking the Florida court make Hooft stop coaching and teaching MMA classes at Combat Club and not seeking any money.

The complaint includes a roster of fighters Robinson says are currently working with Hooft, including Anthony Johnson, Rashad Evans, Michael Johnson, Volkan Oezdemir, Tyrone Spong and Stefan Struve.

In response, Hooft filed an answer and affirmative defenses with the court Aug. 21. An affirmative defense in a civil lawsuit brings up other facts of the case that the defendant hopes to show that will prove the defendant should not be liable, even if some of the plaintiff’s claims are true.

Hooft says in the response that Robinson is not currently operating a business with which he is competing with, therefore he could not be violating the “restrictive covenant.” He also claims that Robinson still owes him more than $10,000, so the contract was already “breached” before Hooft could ever begin training fighters at Combat Club. The response also claims that the non-compete was “overbroad” and not in accordance with Florida statutes.

MMA Fighting’s Chuck Mindenhall wrote a lengthy piece about the rise and fall of the Blackzilians back in February. Robinson and Hooft did not have kind words for each other then, either.

“He is literally the greatest manipulator of minds I’ve ever seen in my life,” Robinson said of Hooft. “He would say the most horrible things about the guys behind their backs, and then in the next moment go shake their hands and say, my man, how are you?”

Hooft said that leaving Robinson and the confines of the Blackzilians was refreshing.

“When you want to grow as a person in the sport, you want to make sure in a couple of years from now you have what you want,” he said. “You can’t do it when people keep you in a certain place. But it’s also, again, I just like to spread my knowledge that I want to spread it with, not somebody else. It was a good couple of years.

“People say, hey we gave you the chance, yeah you gave me the chance but I made myself, and I built everything with hard work. I worked hard.”