South Korean mixed martial arts promotion Battlefield FC has failed to pay its competitors following an event… again, sources tell The Body Lock.
Battlefield FC 2 took place Saturday in Macau, China, and featured several notable MMA fighters. Among the event’s lineup was a main event clash between former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks and UFC veteran Gleison Tibau, and UFC veteran Bryan Caraway also fought on the card.
Battlefield’s second-ever event came approximately two years after the promotion’s inaugural event. The large gap between shows is reportedly largely attributed to financial and organizational struggles.
Following Battlefield FC 1, fighters, including PFL star Sarah Kaufman and UFC flyweight Jessica-Rose Clark, revealed that the organization had not paid them their contracted purses following the event, leading to some serious consequences.
Joe Ray, who fought in the Battlefield FC 1 main event, told MMAFighting, “My finances are in the toilet because of this. I was planning on paying out money that I owe and I have bills that have to be paid and I’m now late on them.”
In an Instagram post, Clark wrote, “I haven’t been able to buy my car cos I was counting on this money to get me there. The worst part of it is my manager gave me enough money out of his own pocket to pay my half of my coaches and my rent and other bills because I put everything on hold for a month counting on that money coming in. So now not only am I out of a vehicle and the money to go home to see my family later in the year, I also owe my manager a tonne of cash cos he tried to help me out.”
It took more than a year for Battlefield FC to finally pay the debts it owed its fighters, as reported by MMAFighting.
Battlefield FC 2 was seen by many to be a redemption opportunity, of sorts, and a chance to re-introduce itself to the MMA world as a legitimate promotion.
It appears, however, that history has repeated itself.
Speaking with The Body Lock, prominent MMA manager Daniel Rubenstein alleges that neither of his clients that fought on the card received payment.
“Neither Caraway or Bruno Miranda have been paid yet. Calls and text to Tommy [Yang] the promoter have gone unanswered,” wrote Rubenstein.
Rubenstein said that he and his clients reached out to the local police for assistance, but have yet to receive any answers.
“Cops were called, took a statement, but wouldn’t force the hotel to give up their room numbers,” he said.
On Twitter, Rubenstein lamented, “Battlefield gonna Battlefield.” In a reply to that tweet, Jessica-Rose Clark – given her experience with the promotion – wrote, “What a surprise.”
Rubenstein added that Battlefield’s “[p]romoter isn’t answering anyones calls or texts.”
In response to a tweet that said, “This is a joke now” following The Body Lock’s report of Battlefield’s second non-payment scandal, Battlefield FC 2 competitor DJ Linderman wrote, “No joke.”
— DJ Linderman (@DaProtege) July 28, 2019
Bellator veteran Ricardo Tierloni, who fought Miranda on the event, also alleged non-payment and promoter unavailability, writing, “They just leave the hotel, and pay nobody!!!”
Here in China waiting for the Battlefield managers, They just leave the hotel, and pay nobody!!! Fuck cant belive!!!
— Ricardo Tirloni (@TirloniMMA) July 28, 2019
According to a tweet from Rubenstein in the early hours of Sunday morning, more clarity on the situation has been given by a Battlefield FC “‘matchmaker.'”
Latest update from the “matchmaker” at Battlefield. pic.twitter.com/XtLxIrikaH
— Daniel Rubenstein (@dannyrube) July 28, 2019
In the screenshot of the message, the “matchmaker,” as Rubenstein refers to the writer, Tommy Yang, says that he was “too stupid” for believing “Mr. Lee again (CEO).”
Yang states that Lee said the payments would be made at 2 AM at the hotel, but “he didn’t and he picked up the phone at 4 AM in the morning [and] said let’s talk [tomorrow].”
The matchmaker also brought up a Mr. Choi, said to be the main investor of Battlefield. Reportedly, Choi “didn’t even know what’s going on with [the] payment [scandal].” Choi is said to be “willing to pay all fight money [via] bank transfer.”
However, despite the optimistic message regarding Choi, Yang conceded that trusting Battlefield executives will likely be out of the question for Battlefield FC 2 competitors and coaches.
“I won’t tell you [to] trust me or Battlefield FC. But this is what I can do,” said Yang.
Battlefield FC did not immediately respond for comment.
This is a developing story, and more information will be added as it becomes available.
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.