Multiple MMA outlets reported on a brief physical altercation between two of MMA’s most prominent managers during a Professional Fighters League card Friday night at Mandalay Bay. Ibrahim Kawa of First Round Management told ESPN that Ali Abdelaziz of Dominance MMA approached him in the crowd and said, “I need to talk to you.” According to Kawa’s fighter Anthony Pettis, Abdelaziz “slapped him like a bitch” and “was gone in 15 seconds.”
MMA Junkie has obtained a police report (which can be found here) about the incident. Two officers say they were working the event when they saw Abdelaziz “strike another male in his face with a closed fist.” Pettis’s fiancée also served as a witness. Abdelaziz was served a citation for battery and kicked out of the event. Here’s a distant view of Abdelaziz being pulled away from Pettis and Kawa.
A PFL spokesperson confirmed the incident in a short statement to MMA Junkie, though they didn’t mention any possible discipline. Abdelaziz manages UFC stars like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Henry Cejudo, and Kamaru Usman, and his biggest public moment came last year when Conor McGregor called him a “terrorist rat” over his brief stint as an FBI informant.
Abdelaziz has a history of getting into these sorts of altercations, and last week’s incident isn’t the only battery charge he’s currently facing in Las Vegas. He will sit for a Nov. 25 bench trial for a fight he started with interim UFC welterweight champion Colby Covington this past April. Video published by TMZ shows Abdelaziz trying to punch Covington in a casino buffet.
Abdelaziz also reportedly punched Kawa’s brother Malki before UFC 150 in 2012. Abdelaziz and Usman were involved in a huge brawl at a PFL event last year, and he also allegedly barged into the hotel room of a rival manager to “intimidate and batter” him at a different PFL event.
That PFL would be so hands-off with Abdelaziz makes sense due to his deep involvement with the promotion. The Body Lock has a detailed story up on his Abdelaziz’s connection to the PFL, and while he does not have a listed, formal relationship with the outfit, he manages an outsized number of its fighters. Over half the fights in the PFL’s 2018 season featured a Dominance MMA client, and over one-third of the fighters who qualified for the playoffs are represented by Abdelaziz’s company. The featherweight semifinals also featured four Dominance MMA fighters.
Abdelaziz used to be an executive with World Series of Fighting, which became the PFL, and he maintains close ties to several of its executives. There are regulations (that mostly apply to boxing) meant to limit managers’ involvement with promotions, and Abdelaziz’s potential for conflicts of interest was examined as part of a 2015 suit against WSOF. Theoretically, a manager who also doubles as a promoter can use their power to set up favorable bouts for their fighters and gain outsized advantages.
After news of the scrap broke over the weekend, both Ibrahim and Malki Kawa (who together represents fighters like Jon Jones, Jorge Masvidal, and Tyron Woodley, in addition to several NFL players) revealed a bit more about their beef with Abdelaziz: