UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt accused the UFC, Dana White, and Brock Lesnar of racketeering, fraud, breach of contract, and other charges in a lawsuit filed in Nevada federal court yesterday. The lawsuit seeks millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.
Lesnar defeated Hunt by unanimous decision in his triumphant return to fighting at UFC 200 on July 9 of last year. But less than a week after the fight, it was revealed that he had tested positive for a banned anti-estrogen agent on June 28, and also failed a drug test on the day of the fight. Neither the UFC nor Nevada State Athletic Commission had the results of those drug tests prior to the fight.
The UFC requires fighters coming out of retirement to submit to four months of drug testing prior to competition to prevent just this sort of thing, but the requirement was waived for Lesnar. Hunt claims, though, that while word of Lesnar’s potential return to fighting first became public in June, both the UFC and Lesnar knew he would be fighting at UFC 200 in March, meaning there was more than enough time for him to enter the testing pool. Further, he alleges that the UFC could have expedited the results of Lesnar’s pre-fight drug tests for “a nominal fee” but declined to do so.
As it was always known that Lesnar’s return to the UFC was likely a one-off—he retired in the first place because the lingering effects of diverticulitis had left him unable to consistently train and compete at a high level—Hunt alleges in the suit that the “interests in having LESNAR compete in UFC 200 were aligned such that any punishment from a doping violation, including suspensions or fines, would be relatively negligible.”
Lesnar was paid $2.5 million for the fight along with an undisclosed pay per view bonus that Hunt “believes is in the millions of dollars,” while Hunt was paid $700,000. Lesnar was fined $250,000 by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in December and suspended for a year for the positive tests.
According to Hunt’s lawyer, before filing the lawsuit she asked the UFC to give Lesnar’s purse—minus the $250,000 fine—to Hunt, and to commit to a clause in Hunt’s contract that would entitle him to future opponents’ entire purse if they failed a drug test. The UFC declined.
The lawsuit points to a number of failed drug tests—both Antônio Silva and Frank Mir previously failed fight-night tests when competing against Hunt—and alleges “a pattern of liberally granting purported use exemptions and other drug testing exemptions, without any additional safeguards to prevent abuse.”
To buttress these claims, Hunt cites the UFC allowing Vitor Belfort to fight Jon Jones at UFC 152 despite knowing he had testosterone levels two-and-a-half times the normal allowable limit, an episode first reported by Deadspin back in 2015. This information was made public, in part, because the UFC accidentally emailed the results of Belfort’s drug test to a group of fighters, managers, and trainers.