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Battery charges dismissed against MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz

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Ali Abdelaziz Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

A pair of misdemeanor battery charges against Dominance MMA founder Ali Abdelaziz have been dismissed.

On Monday, a Nevada judge accepted a motion by state prosecutors to dismiss an October 2019 battery charge filed against the MMA manager, per online court records. The charge stemmed from an alleged physical altercation with First Round Management co-founder Abe Kawa at a PFL event. Police said two witnesses saw Abdelaziz strike Kawa with a closed fist backstage at the event; Kawa and Anthony Pettis’ fiancee corroborated the report.

According to the The Athletic, the alleged assault was spurred by Abdelaziz’s belief that Kawa had spread a rumor that he sexually assaulted a UFC staff member at an event in 2018. Abdelaziz denied the allegation in the report.

Abdelaziz attorney Chris Blakesley said the state’s motion came after a meeting with a prosecutor prior to Monday’s hearing where they discussed the case and “we both felt that it was the best move to move to dismiss.” He said there were no penalties or conditions placed on Abdelaziz in exchange for the state’s motion, and he was unaware whether any witnesses had come forward on Kawa’s behalf. He could not recall the prosecutor’s name.

“I think Ali’s maintenance of his innocence since day one was shown by the end result,” he said. “What Monday was was to put the deal on the record to make sure it was official, but most of the work was done prior to that with a very responsible, good prosecutor who was willing to listen to our side.”

In January, the online docket notes from the state, “they have no position on this matter at this time.” Abdelaziz pleaded not guilty to the charge, which carries a maximum punishment of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Kawa did not respond to a request for comment; Abdelaziz referred MMA Fighting to Blakesley.

The second battery charge stemmed from an altercation caught on camera in March 2019. Abdelaziz was cited after a man named Michael Johnson said he was assaulted by the manager on a buffet line at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Johnson claimed he was part of welterweight Colby Covington’s fight team and was roughed up by UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman, who’d just won the title at UFC 235, and “other members of his team.” Video of the incident was posted by TMZ and immediately went viral. Covington, who said he didn’t know Johnson and called him “just an innocent civilian caught in the line of fire.”

According to online records, Abdelaziz entered a diversion program and paid a $1,000 fine before the charge was dismissed. Blakesley said the program is only a technical term; Abdelaziz was only required to pay the fine to have the case dismissed this past November.

Abdelaziz represents many of the top stars in the UFC, Bellator and PFL, including Usman, UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, former bantamweight champ Henry Cejudo and former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar. In California, he currently is a co-defendant along with heavyweight Vitaly Minakov in an ongoing lawsuit filed by RusFighters LLC, which alleges he tortiously interfered with an existing contract the former Bellator champ had with the management company.

Abdelaziz has been caught on film in several physical altercations at PFL events; after the alleged incident with Abe Kawa, he was briefly barred from attending them. In 2012, he reportedly punched Abe Kawa’s brother, First Round co-founder Malki Kawa, backstage at UFC 150. The incident reportedly helped Abdelaziz pick up another client, two-time UFC title challenger Anthony Johnson.

“I saw Forrest Griffin run over and pick [Malki Kawa] up, and Ali said, ‘I told you when I see you again I was going to punch you in the mouth,’” Johnson told The Athletic. “He did what he said he was going to do. That’s some gangster right there.”

In the same story, the manager attempted to explain his repeated physical altercations at MMA events.

“I always retaliate when someone does something to me, and I always hold my ground,” Abdelaziz said. “But this is who I am as a man. I refuse to be bullied. And I refuse to let people try to shut my mouth. When you talk to me, you’re always going to get the 100 percent me. I want to be better for my children and my wife. I want to be a role model. But also I’m different. I’m not saying I’m right by any means. I just have a lot of emotion built inside me. I’m passionate. And certain things, bam, I should have never did that. But sometimes I regret this. This is a fact.”

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