by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
MMAWeekly.com on Sunday learned that ProElite, Inc., parent company of Elite XC, has notified several fighter managers the company still intends to promote mixed martial arts events.
“Elite XC and ProElite are currently downsizing its staff in an effort to improve its business moving forward,” the notice states. “As this process is implemented, Elite XC cancelled the event previously scheduled for Nov. 8 in attempt to re-schedule another event in early 2009.”
The notice also disputes reports the embattled company is declaring bankruptcy.
On Oct. 20, ProElite sent a notice to managers declaring the company was ceasing fight operations, and had begun the process of letting its employees go.
In response, many of the managers sent a “notice of breach” letter to the company, citing a clause in the contract that permits fighters to terminate the contract and seek monies owed to them if Pro Elite isn’t able to fulfill their “promotional and payment obligations” within thirty days.
Cesar Gracie, manager and trainer of Elite fighters Nick Diaz and Jake Shields, said he received the new notice on Friday.
“They’re trying to buy time, to see if they can get more money from whomever,” Gracie said.
Gracie also said the notice granted Diaz permission to fight in other North American promotions with the company’s written permission. Previously, Diaz’s contract had only allowed him to fight in Japanese promotions, also under ProElite’s consent.
Manager Monte Cox said he was still evaluating options for his fighters under Elite contract, including middleweight champion Robbie Lawler. The notice changed little about his perception of the company’s position.
“I’m just guessing, but I think they’re trying to keep people to the contracts and sell them,” he said. “Or maybe they’re going to try and stay active. It’s hard to say.”
Repeated calls to Pro Elite’s CEO, Chuck Champion, have gone unreturned in the weeks since the company’s Oct. 20 notice.
Like most managers with clients stranded under the crumbling company, Cox said his first priority was to keep his clients working.
“It appeared to be obvious that they were going to cease operations, and if that’s the case, my guys have got to make a living,” he said. “If they’re going to continue to fight and they are going to honor the contract, that’s fine, we’ll honor the contract. But (Elite) has to prove to me that they’re really going to do this. Sending me a letter saying we plan to have a fight in 2009, that doesn’t prove to me that you’re going to be in business. So we’re going to need a little more than that.”