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Ali Abdelaziz and the PFL’s extraordinarily controversial past and present

Ali Abdelaziz and the PFL’s extraordinarily controversial past and present

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) playoffs for the promotion’s second full season are in full swing, and controversial MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz, the President of Dominance MMA Management, is once again primed to have a large pool of fighters across the brackets.

Questions and concerns about a level playing field and an incestuous relationship have long plagued Abdelaziz and the PFL, which rebranded from World Series of Fighting (WSOF) in 2018. Such qualms have been raised again in recent months by numerous other prominent MMA managers, prompting many to take a closer look at the past ties between Abdelaziz and WSOF.

In addition to his large roster presence, many allege that Ali Abdelaziz also benefits from an extraordinarily close relationship to the PFL, in part, some may posit, due to his sizable stable of clients that make up the backbone of the promotion.

Allegations of the PFL letting Abdelaziz do as he wishes are bolstered by recent events, specifically an altercation that took place on Friday at PFL 7 between Abdelaziz and fellow prominent MMA manager Ibrahim Kawa.

According to ESPN, who reported on the altercation following the initial reporting of MMAJunkie, Kawa stated that Abdelaziz struck him after purportedly saying, “I need to talk to you.” Kawa’s client, former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, corroborated Kawa’s statement, telling ESPN that Abdelaziz slapped Kawa “like a b—-” and “was gone in 15 seconds.”

A police statement issued by a spokesperson confirmed, “LVMPD officers were on scene and temporarily detained one of the subjects during the investigation… That subject was cooperative. He was issued a citation and released. No enforcement action was taken regarding the second subject, who was also cooperative. There were no significant injuries.”

As of yet, no action has been taken by the PFL regarding Abdelaziz in the aftermath of the altercation, with PFL executive vice president and general counsel Jim Bramson telling ESPN that they are planning “to look into [the situation]” while letting law enforcement do its job.

This is not the first time that Abdelaziz has been involved in an altercation at a PFL event.

At PFL 1, which took place in June of 2018, Abdelaziz and his client, UFC welterweight king Kamaru Usman, were involved in a massive brawl in the crowd. Usman, in an interview on The MMA Hour, attributed the brawl to racist remarks and drunken misconduct on the part of several fans.

Just two weeks later, at PFL 2, another incident allegedly occurred involving Abdelaziz.

According to Russell, Abdelaziz and his associate, fellow Dominance MMA manager Rivzan Magomedov, “barged into” a hotel room of someone purported to be a rival manager and proceeded to allegedly “intimidate and batter” that person. Again, no action was taken by the PFL against Abdelaziz.

In fact, Russell reported that the “PFL [was] allegedly trying to convince the victim not to press [charges],” which he argues “enables” Abdelaziz to “keep acting like he does with threats, intimidation, and violence.”

In light of numerous altercations, alleged acts of violence, and outright misconduct, the PFL’s repeated decision to not take disciplinary action against Abdelaziz warrants scrutiny. Given the outsized role Abdelaziz has in supplying the PFL’s roster – including many of the promotion’s highest-profile fighters – PFL’s laissez-faire approach lends itself to the idea of a conflict of interest.

Ali Abdelaziz and his controversial WSOF past

In late 2015, a lawsuit levied against MMAWC – the parent company of WSOF – by Chinese LLC WSOF Asia, brought a variety of issues, including allegations of “defamation, breach of contract, dire financial straits and violations of the Nevada Athletic Commission’s (NAC) code for MMA promoters,” per Bloody Elbow‘s Paul Gift, to the forefront of the MMA news cycle.

While the lawsuit largely focused on internal power struggles, ownership stakes, licensing rights, and other operational complaints, Abdelaziz’s role with the promotion – and the conflict of interest and violation of Nevada State Athletic Commission (NAC) rules it presented – was also a subject of interest.

The NAC defines such a conflict in statute 467.130, which states, “An unarmed combatant may not have a promoter or any of its members, stockholders, officials, matchmakers or assistant matchmakers: 1. Act directly or indirectly as his or her manager; or 2. Hold any financial interest in the unarmed combatant’s management or earnings from contests or exhibitions.”

The statute is intended to ward off any potential conflicts of interests that might stem from such an arrangement. In theory, a promoter who doubles as a fighter’s manager might take advantage of a fighter to create a favorable bout, contract, or situation for a promotion, or, as the lawsuit alleges Abdelaziz did, the opposite.

This statute is a common refrain in combat sports; for example, the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, which to date governs solely boxing (ie. not MMA), also has a stipulation to this effect. The Ali Act states, to enact a “firewall between promoters and managers.”

To do so, the provision states, “(1) In general – It is unlawful for (A) a promoter to have a direct or indirect financial interest in the management of a boxer; or (B) a manager (i) to have a direct or indirect financial interest in the promotion of a boxer; or (ii) to be employed by or receive compensation or other benefits from a promoter, except for amounts received as consideration under the manager’s contract with the boxer.”

As cited by Gift, the lawsuit initially focused on Abdelaziz and the conflicting duality of his roles as both a manager and a promotion official because two of the stakeholders involved in the promotional power struggle disagreed over whether or not to cut ties with Abdelaziz.

According to the lawsuit, investor Vincent Hesser clashed with MMAWC member Bruce Deifik on myriad issues, including Abdelaziz. Hesser reportedly wanted to rid the promotion Abdelaziz, but Deifik refused to do so.

At the time of the lawsuit, Gift notes, “Abdel Aziz’s wife [was] listed as the managing member of Dominance and his sister [was] believed to be its Vice President.” However, Abdelaziz purportedly had a “relationship to and control of an entity named Dominance, LLC. Dominance, LLC manages mixed martial arts fighters.”

John Nash of Bloody Elbow, in an article published subsequently to Gift’s, was able to cite multiple sources identifying Abdelaziz as both a WSOF employee and a manager.

Nash cited an interview with Ariel Helwani, then of MMAFighting; and a now-unlisted interview posted to WSOF’s website to illustrate Abdelaziz’s official role within the promotion, as his name did not appear on the promoter’s license obtained by Bloody Elbow at the time (below).

WSOF’s promoter’s license, via Bloody Elbow

The Body Lock was able to locate a tweet issued by the official PFL account – which was once the official WSOF account – that referenced Abdelaziz as an “SVP,” a common abbreviation of Senior Vice President (right).

The YouTube video linked in the video has been removed from the website.

Additionally, in a December 2015 interview with MMAJunkie, then-WSOF CEO Carlos Silva stated that Abdelaziz was “a big help here” and would “continue to help us as he has with sales and business development.”

Nash also cited numerous articles and social media posts that identified Abdelaziz as a manager to fighters.

“Abdelaziz has also been identified as the manager for several UFC fighters, including Frankie EdgarKhabib NurmagomedovRafael Dos Anjos, and Fabricio Werdum All of these fighters are listed as clients on Dominance’s website,” wrote Nash (Nash’s citations included).

With Abdelaziz’s roles at WSOF and Dominance MMA Management publicly announced by the parties involved, it appeared as though he was in violation of the NAC statute.

The lawsuit alleged several instances in which Abdelaziz took advantage of his position, claiming Abdelaziz “set up fights using fighters managed by Dominance LLC. Mr. Aziz set up these fights on terms favorable to Dominance, LLC managed fighters and detrimental to the interests of WSOF.”

In addition to the aforementioned allegation, the lawsuit claimed, “Plaintiff is informed and believes Dominance also arranged sponsorships for its fighters. On several occasions the sponsors for fighters managed by Dominance and those of WSOF were in conflict. When such conflicts arose, Mr. Abdeziz [sic] always favored the sponsors of Dominance over WSOF sponsors to the detriment of WSOF.”

The complaint also claimed that Abdelaziz booked fights in the interest of Dominance MMA fighters, not WSOF.

“Moreover, Aziz refused to make fights that were in the best interest of MMAWC and WSOF. Rather than choosing the fights that would generate the most fan interest and thus revenue for WSOF, Aziz set matches that favored his fighters and his pocket. Aziz also often refused to set fights for fighters that were not managed by him. A promising fighter and champion, Jessica Aguliar was under contract with WSOF, and Aziz did not arrange fights for her required under WSOF’s contractual obligations. Ms. Aguilar was not one of Mr. Aziz’s fighters,” the lawsuit alleged.

The NAC, in response to the allegations of the lawsuit, looked into the relationship between WSOF and Abdelaziz. On November 30, 2015, Shaun Al-Shatti (then of MMAFighting) reported that NAC Executive Director Bob Bennett would meet with Abdelaziz to discuss “operational and administrative concerns.”

Prior to the meeting, the NAC was presented with a WSOF request to expand its WSOF 26 fight card from 9 to 10 bouts – from 18 to 20 fighters – a move that necessitated commission approval.

In a video of the hearing posted by the MMA Report, Bennett ruled against the motion, citing the same “administrative and some operational concerns.”

When asked if the ruling on the number of bouts on the card was “really more based on the issues that you have with the promoter and some of the operations of that promoter or resource issues around this date,” Bennett replied, “It’s more about the operational and administrative concerns.”

Following intense media and NAC scrutiny, WSOF was forced to re-evaluate its relationship with Abdelaziz.

On December 16, 2015, veteran investigative journalist Mike Russell – who has done extensive research into and reporting on the past of Ali Abdelaziztweeted that WSOF had “terminated” Abdelaziz, though Silva refuted that claim in the previously cited interview with MMAJunkie.

Silva, instead, claimed that WSOF and Ali had “made a decision together” for the manager and the promotion to “part ways amicably.”

According to MMAJunkie’s Steven Marrocco, “Silva said [earlier that month that] Abdelaziz would continue to work with WSOF in a consultant role, advising the promotion on sales and business development. But shortly after WSOF’s meeting with the NSAC, he said, the promotion had concerns about Abdelaziz’s new role. In the interest of avoiding perceptions of any conflict of interest, it was decided a clean break was the better option.”

Months later, in April of 2016, no action had been taken by the NAC in regard to punishment for Abdelaziz over the perceived infractions he had apparently committed. In an interview with Bloody Elbow, Bennett argued that as for any such issues, the NAC had “resolved them, it was beneficial to both parties, and Ali is no longer working with World Series of Fighting.”

Bloody Elbow’s Gift, in his conversations with Bennett for the piece, said that when he argued that from his perspective, “it seemed clear there were rules violations and I was a little shocked to see no discipline whatsoever, Bennett points out that the NAC is a government agency. ‘We don’t have an investigative branch,’ he says.”

But with Bennett’s iteration that the matter was resolved “resolved appropriately and legally,” controversy tapered out to a significant degree.

However, in November of 2017, another lawsuit would rock WSOF, which was then in the midst of its metamorphosis into what is now the PFL. The lawsuit, filed by WSOF treasurer Shawn Wright and two other parties, was described by Gift (this time writing for Forbes) as “alleging breach of contract and civil RICO, among 10 total causes of action.”

In the lawsuit, a section was again devoted to Abdelaziz. The lawsuit alleged Abdelaziz was involved in cases of “deceit, fraud, misrepresentation, and connections to Islamic terrorism against US citizens,” the latter likely stemming from the aforementioned work of Russell.

Gift also notes that the lawsuit covers “alleged Abdelaziz money skimming from WSOF sponsors such as Auto Shopper and Deifik and Silva’s failure to terminate Abdelaziz after Wright allegedly brought his concerns to their attention.”

The complaint also claims that Deifik and Silva “continued to use Abdelaziz throughout 2016,” a state of affairs that would seem at odds with the promotion’s formally announced break with Abdelaziz following NAC scrutiny. According to the complaint, Gift states, “Ray Sefo was enlisted to falsely state he had always been the WSOF’s matchmaker.”

Today, Ali Abdelaziz has no formal relationship with the PFL, instead, he officially presides over his ever-growing stable of fighters at Dominance MMA Management. However, concerns over ties between the two parties have continued to linger as the PFL’s tournament-based format has artificially limited the number of roster spots with meaningful earning opportunities.

PFL Season 1 and Abdelaziz’s outsized roster presence

During PFL’s first full-length season, 2018, the promotion put on 11 events. Over the course of the year, 92 individual fighters competed under the PFL banner, though just 68 fighters were part of the promotion’s original roster.

28 of those 92 were managed by Dominance MMA Management, thus Ali Abdelaziz, according to a report from The Body Lock’s Ryan Thomas in January. Meaning, Abdelaziz managed roughly a third (30.4%) of the entire PFL roster going into the regular season.

Given that fighters appeared multiple times for the promotion – as per usual – Thomas calculated the number of Abdelaziz-managed fighters who competed relative to the number of total bouts in PFL’s first season. Dominance MMA fighters competed 43 times in 42 bouts out of a possible 76, with one bout featuring two of Abdelaziz’s clients, per Thomas. That amounts to 55.3% of regular season PFL bouts featuring Abdelaziz clients.

With such a vast number of clients competing in the regular season, Abdelaziz possessed an uncharacteristically high probability that his outsized roster presence would carry over into the playoffs, PFL’s unique promotional staple, where the largest purses – including a million-dollar grand prize for divisional winners – are available.

The probabilities worked out in Abdelaziz’s favor, with Thomas reporting that 17 of Abdelaziz’s 28 rostered fighters reached the playoff rounds in their respective divisions. Of a possible 48 fighters competing in the playoffs (with six weight divisions of eight competitors), that equates to roughly 36%, or over one-third.

As one might expect, those favorable numbers saw a high number of Abdelaziz clients reach the Finals, as five of a possible twelve finalists were managed by Dominance MMA, giving Abdelaziz a minimum 50% chance of managing the fighter with the million-dollar-winning purse across four of six weight classes.

Four Abdelaziz clients, Lance Palmer and Steven Siler; and Natan Schulte and Rashid Magomedov, respectively, even went head-to-head in the featherweight finals, giving Abdelaziz a 100% chance of managing the winning fighter, a scenario Sherdog’s Jordan Breen labeled, “as clear of a conflict of interest as you get.”

Four of Abdelaziz’s five clients – Philipe Lins (heavyweight), Natan Schulte (lightweight), Lance Palmer (featherweight), and Magomed Magomedkerimov (welterweight) – took home inaugural PFL titles and million-dollar prizes, winning four of the six possible weight divisions’ titles.

In addition to having a vast number of clients represented in the initial roster of the PFL – which in turn skewed the odds for Dominance MMA clients to reach the cash-rich playoffs – Abdelaziz clients also received perhaps a disproportionate amount of favorable card placement.

According to Thomas, Abdelaziz clients featured in 25 of the 42 main card bouts over the regular season, totaling 59.5% of main card fights. Abdelaziz also managed fighters in nine of eleven co-main events (81.8%) and six of eleven main events (54.5%), per Thomas’ reporting.

While numerous factors (eg. talent, marketability, etc.) can all affect both roster spots and card placement – not to mention advancement in tournaments – the significant numbers outlined by Thomas could be considered troubling in light of Abdelaziz’s past ties to WSOF and PFL’s executives and infrastructure.

PFL Season 2 and more of the same

*UPDATE: October 13, 7:33 PM ET* – The Body Lock was informed by a reliable media source that three additional PFL fighters are also managed by Ali Abdelaziz. These three fighters have been included in the following totals below.

Following the PFL’s first season, many other managers, pundits, and media members voiced concerns at the sheer number of Abdelaziz clients represented on the PFL roster and in its playoffs. Thomas’ reporting was cited by multiple outlets in follow-up stories to that effect, including The Athletic’s Ben Fowlkes’ look at meritocracy in the PFL and MMAFighting’s (then MMAJunkie’s) Steven Marrocco’s intensive report on other managers’ displeasure.

After becoming aware of the rumblings, PFL executives took the time to reach out to myriad MMA managers to address their concerns regarding Abdelaziz and perceived bias.

According to Marrocco, the PFL’s outreach efforts were driven by a “want to attract top talent for the promotion’s third season by sourcing fighters from a wider variety of reps.” Several of those who attended the meetings believed they served as an unstated admission of “an unfair advantage given to Dominance MMA Management.”

In PFL’s second season, however, much of the same occurred.

An investigation by The Body Lock found that over the course of the regular season, Abdelaziz managed at least 22 fighters on the PFL roster. That number was determined through the scouring of the Dominance MMA Management website, the social media accounts of Abdelaziz and Dominance colleague Rivzan Magomedov, and the social media accounts of PFL fighters in question.

It is possible that Dominance MMA represents more than 22 fighters on the PFL roster, as Dominance’s website appears to have not been recently updated and social media postings have been limited, but The Body Lock was only able to explicitly confirm 22 through the use of the aforementioned channels.

For instance, as Marrocco noted in his piece, “Abdelaziz is said to have a direct or indirect interest in 50 percent of the fighters that have been recruited, according to one estimate within the promotion.”

The PFL’s official website lists 69 unique fighters on its 2019 roster, which means Abdelaziz’s minimum of 21* represented fighters totaled 30.43% of the entire regular season. (Note*: Abdelaziz also manages PFL lightweight Ramsey Nijem, who despite not competing during the 2019 regular season will compete in the 2019 PFL playoffs – ironically facing #1 seed Natan Schulte, another Abdelaziz client – bringing his known total to 22, thus 31.88% of the listed roster).

During the course of the 2019 season, the PFL promoted six events. Abdelaziz represented multiple fighters on each of those events, with a minimum of three fighters per card. For four of the six events, Abdelaziz managed at least six fighters – in at least six individual bouts – on the card.

Perhaps most notably, Abdelaziz-managed fighters appeared in the main event of a PFL regular season card all but once (PFL 6), with Abdelaziz clients Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison, 2018 PFL light heavyweight finalist Vinny Magalhaes, 2018 PFL featherweight champion Lance Palmer, 2018 PFL welterweight champion Magomed Magomedkerimov, and 2018 PFL lightweight semi-finalist Chris Wade all securing at minimum one main event slot this season.

In total, Abdelaziz managed a fighter in the main event of a PFL regular-season event 83.33% of the time.

Likewise, Abdelaziz managed a fighter competing in the co-main event of all but one (PFL 3) of PFL’s six regular-season events in 2019, with all of the above fighters also competing in co-main events in addition to their main event billing. Abdelaziz managed a fighter in the co-main event of a PFL regular-season event 83.33% of the time, as well.

Abdelaziz represented at least 5 of the 13 featherweights (38.46%), 5 of the 12 men’s lightweights (41.67%), 3 of the 12 welterweights (25%), 6 of the 12 light heavyweights (50%), 1 of the 12 heavyweights (8.33%), and 1 of the 8 women’s lightweights (12.5%) on the PFL roster.

As one might expect, Abdelaziz’s large stable of fighters made their way into the playoffs for a second straight season.

Abdelaziz will manage at least three of the eight featherweights during the playoffs, Lance Palmer (the #1 seed and reigning champion), Movlid Khaybulaev (the #2 seed and a breakout star of 2019), and Canada’s Jeremy Kennedy (#6 seed). As such, Abdelaziz will have a 37.5% chance of managing the million-dollar-winning client without taking into account seeding and talent factors when determining probability.

In the men’s lightweight division, Dominance MMA will manage at minimum five of the eight playoff competitors, giving the management firm an unweighted 62.5% chance of securing a tournament victory at year’s end. Abdelaziz manages the #1 (Schulte), #2 (Islam Mamedov), #3 (Chris Wade), #5 (Rashid Magomedov), and #8 (Ramsey Nijem) seeds, and Schulte and Nijem will face one another in the opening round of the bracket.

Of Abdelaziz’s confirmed three PFL welterweights, Handesson Ferreira, João Zeferino, and Magomedkerimov, Magomedkerimov will be the only confirmed Dominance fighter in the 2019 bracket. The #2 seed will mark a 12.5% winning probability for Abdelaziz in the bracket without considering other factors.

Dominance MMA will represent at least five of eight light heavyweight playoff hopefuls, with 62.5% of the bracket managed by the firm. Abdelaziz will manage the #2 (Maxim Grishin), #3 (Magalhaes), #4 (Bozigit Ataev), #6 (Rashid Yusupov), and #7 (Jordan Johnson) seeds in the weight division.

Abdelaziz clients #3 Magalhaes and #6 Yusupov, and #2 Grinshin and #7 Johnson, will face off against one another in the opening round of the bracket, giving Abdelaziz a 100% chance of having at least two fighters advancing to the next round, given that both fighters in both bouts are his clients.

Abdelaziz appears to manage just one of the heavyweight and women’s lightweight hopefuls, representing #5 seed Ali Isaev in the 8-man heavyweight tournament (12.5% probability) and Harrison in the 4-woman lightweight tournament (25% probability).

In total, Abdelaziz represents at least 16 of 44 playoff contestants (36.36%) this year.

Following the first playoff event of the season, PFL 7, Abdelaziz’s Harrison and Magomedkerimov both won their opening round matchups, with Harrison submitting late notice replacement Bobbi Jo Danziel and Magomedkerimov defeating former foe Chris Curtis, respectively.

However, only Harrison advanced in the tournament because Magomedkerimov withdrew due to illness following his victory. Harrison will now compete in the tournament finals of the women’s lightweight bracket for the million-dollar prize, as just four women entered the fray at the beginning of the playoffs.

That will give Abdelaziz a 50% chance of managing the tournament and prize money-winning women’s lightweight – though Harrison’s status as the prohibitive favorite and her existing win over future foe Larissa Pacheco have led many to believe her odds are far greater than 50% – while dropping his percentage to 0% in the welterweight division with Magomedkerimov’s loss.

Why these numbers might be cause for concern

As indicated in the introduction to this article, the reason for speculation, concerns, and questions over Ali Abdelaziz’s large PFL roster presence stem from his controversial and condemned relationship with WSOF, the previous incarnation of the tournament-based PFL.

Given Abdelaziz’s close ties to WSOF-turned-PFL executives, including official matchmaker, PFL President, and “brother” Ray Sefo, the vast number of Abdelaziz clients that receive PFL roster slots and prominent card placements could represent a conflict of interest – even despite Abdelaziz’s official 2015 break with the promotion.

As Breen noted in his aforementioned article, “The potential for managers to influence illegitimate outcomes is obvious if they control the majority of a talent pool, or worse, both parties in a specific fight.” Though Abdelaziz does not manage a majority of the PFL roster, he does manage more than any other manager. Additionally, Abdelaziz manages a near-majority of fighters in two weight classes overall and an outright majority in two playoff brackets.

Abdelaziz fighters have and will compete (Thomas cites five matchups in 2018) against one another as a result of PFL matchmaking and the tournament structure, with the Schulte vs. Nijem opening round match as a stark reminder of such a possibility.

When a manager controls both combatants in a bout, the potential for corrupt and/or manipulative actions soars. In a 1983 profile of the infamous Don King, a prominent and controversial boxing manager, the New York Times outlined such issues. As journalist Michael Katz wrote:

“In this corner, a Don King fighter. In that corner, a Don King fighter. Frequently, they are both managed by the promoter’s adopted son, Carl.

Guess who wins? To an increasing number of angry and envious rivals, this common matchup is an introduction to monopoly. No promoter since Jim Norris’s mob-backed International Boxing Club was broken up by the Federal Government in 1957 has gained as much control of the sport as Don King now has.

‘There is no competition except among Don King fighters,’ complained Mort Sharnik, the boxing adviser for CBS. ”It is the appearance that makes people uneasy. It may be good business, but it’s bad sport.'”

Now, as Breen noted, “It doesn’t matter whether or not anything nefarious actually happens in reality, either; even the appearance of impropriety is a major issue.” The appearance of impropriety, or of favoritism, is an issue in and of itself.

Clearly, other managers feel that way, per Marrocco’s recent interviews with some of the sport’s most visible managers. In an allegation refuted by Sefo, Brazilian manager Alex Davis claims “Abdelaziz has acted unethically in support of his goals. He claims he’s attempted to place his fighters in the PFL and gotten no response, only to have Abdelaziz or Dominance company reps approach them promising a contract if they sign a management deal,” per Marrocco.

Sefo has defended his and the PFL’s relationship with Abdelaziz, saying that Dominance MMA is a consistent supplier of talent and claiming other management teams will bring up fighters to PFL only to withdraw their names when another, perhaps better, offer comes in from another promotion. Speaking to Marrocco, Sefo said, “‘They give me numbers, we negotiate, and it gets done… They don’t use me to go somewhere else.'”

Though intended to be a defense of Abdelaziz, this remark from Sefo could, to those inclined, act as an indictment. As writers like Nash, Gift, and others frequently posit, the relationship between a promoter and manager should be inherently adversarial, with one side angling to secure as much money for a fighter as possible and the other looking to pay out as little as possible.

Many times, this consists of managers listening to offers from multiple promotions, playing one against the other in search of the best possible deal – a scenario Sefo outlined in his characterization of other managers. With Abdelaziz, however, who cited his “good relationships with all promoters” and “support to the PFL for the last five, six years” as his reasons for his success as a manager representing PFL fighters, Sefo implies that such hardball tactics are used less.

In essence, Abdelaziz’s large roster presence within a promotion that once employed him, coupled with that promotion’s disproportionate usage of his clients in high-profile positions on events, creates a perception of favoritism labeled by MMA manager Daniel Rubenstein as “very glaringly obvious.”

With so many Abdelaziz clients on the roster – even at times facing off against one another – multiple opportunities for promotional and/or managerial malpractice arise. At best, this is the mark of a promotion somehow unable to source talent from outside one managerial firm with either an ignorance or an unwillingness to take the necessary steps to quell apparent conflicts of interest.

At worst?

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