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Tuesday, Nov 22, 2011

Texas Upstart Promoter Blasts UFC and Bellator For “Intimidation” Tactics

Oscar Enriquez (center), promoter of "Ultimate Warrior Fighting," will put on his first event this Saturday, headlined by a lightweight showdown between Roger Huerta (left) and Jon "War Machine" Koppenhaver (right).

By Joshua Molina

A retired former U.S. Marine is determined to promote his first mixed martial event this Saturday – amid cease-and-desist letters and threats that he allegedly received from UFC and Bellator Fighting Championship.

Oscar Enriquez, owner of “Ultimate Warrior Fighting,” is promoting an internet pay-per-view event headlined by a lightweight showdown between former UFC and Bellator star Roger Huerta and Jon “War Machine” Koppenhaver on Sat., Nov. 26.  But in the last two months, both Bellator and UFC have attempted to strip the promotion of talent, according to Enriquez.

In October, Enriquez said that Bellator informed him it still had Huerta under contract and, therefore, couldn’t allow Huerta to fight for Ultimate Warrior Fighting. Enriquez also said that, about a week ago, the UFC ordered Mike Swick and Jon Fitch to withdraw from meet and greet commitments the two fighters had made to Enriquez for his event.

Swick and Fitch will no longer appear as guests. Huerta will still fight in the main event, after Enriquez said he was able to come to an agreement, the terms of which he could not disclose, with Bellator.

“I am a businessman and I don’t agree with it,” Enriquez told Full Contact Fighter.  “A couple of weeks ago, before all this happened, I was on the UFC’s side. And then they came after me and, all of a sudden, my whole attitude changed. They can stomp me like a bug. They can slap me silly. That is power.”

Enriquez expects 2,300 people to fill the Pharr Events Center on Sat. He is streaming his Pay Per View Live for a price of $9.99 on Go Fight Live.

Enriquez said that Bellator gave him a cease-and-desist letter, stating the promotion still had the exclusive rights to promote Roger Huerta.  In his last fight for Bellator on Oct. 21, 2010, Huerta suffered his second consecutive defeat and fourth loss in his last five fights, a second round TKO (doctor stoppage) at the hands of Eddie Alvarez.

“They weren’t paying attention to Roger after he lost to Eddie Alvarez, (so) then he says ‘I want to fight in my hometown.’  Then, all of a sudden, boom they own him,” said Enriquez a childhood friend of Huerta’s.

According to Enriquez, he had already invested $50,000 into his event by the time he received the formal letter from Bellator, so he worked out a private deal with Bellator to avoid a lawsuit.

“Anybody can sue anybody , regardless of whether they have a leg to stand on,” Enriquez said. “It doesn’t matter. You can just sue anyone and go to court. Because they are heavy duty hitters, it would have taken a year before we even hit the courtroom.”

Then he heard from UFC.

Company legal brass told him to stop using the word, “Octagon,” a trademark of UFC’s parent company Zuffa, LLC, in promotional literature. Enriquez said he had used this term on marketing materials stating that said “VIPs can take pictures in the Octagon.”

“That really upset me,” Enriquez said.

Then, he said UFC ordered Swick and Fitch to withdraw from their guest appearance commitments to Ultimate Warrior Fighting. Enriquez said he was told, “No UFC fighter that is under contract with the UFC can promote any other promotion.”

Enriquez doesn’t understand why the UFC went after him.

“I felt I was promoting (the UFC), but they don’t look at it that way. “They are too into making money. They want to protect every facet of making money.”

Enriquez said UFC is gaining too much power.

“It’s terrible,” Enriquez said. “They are slowly going to take over. It is like some of these mega stores (compared to) some of these mom-and-pops around.”

Nonetheless, he is going forward with his plan to be an MMA promoter.

“I was contemplating this being my first and last show, if this is what I got to look forward to,” Enriquez said. “These guys want to own fighters.”

Enriquez said he promotes under a different business model than UFC and Bellator.
“I want every fighter to be able to come and go,” he said. “Let them be free agents. To me, it is about the sport and it is about getting people to see the sport and not just one organization.”

Saturday’s fights will take place inside a seven-sided cage, called the “Septagon.” Enriquez said he will have a DJ spinning tunes and go-go dancers entertaining the fans between fights. The city of Pharr has been supportive of the event, he said, and many top city officials will be in attendance.

He takes a little bit of comfort knowing that his tiny show is on the radar of the UFC and Bellator. A longtime fan of mixed martial arts, Enriquez watched shows in Las Vegas and imagined bringing the sport to his hometown, located just 10 miles from the Mexican border.

He said that his girlfriend helped him come with the name “Ultimate Warrior Fighting.” He said UFC was not happy about the name either.

Enriquez also said that he has never heard of the WWE professional wrestling legend, “The Ultimate Warrior,” and is not concerned from a legal standpoint about the name he chose for his promotion.

After all the drama, he said, his dream of promoting mixed martial arts events will come true this weekend.

“I bet you (Bellator CEO) Bjorn (Rebney) and (UFC President) Dana (White) are going to be watching my show,” Enriquez said.

posted by FCF Staff @ 11:42 am
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One response to “Texas Upstart Promoter Blasts UFC and Bellator For “Intimidation” Tactics”

  1. Rob F. says:

    I’m not quite sure why Enriquez is so dumbfounded. From what I’m reading, the UFC is trying to protect what they have copyrighted and Bellator is asking Huerta to honor the contract he originally signed. Am I missing something?

    I think Enriquez crossed the line with advertising the Octagon. That is a registered trademark. It would be as if I tried to advertise some product using the words “iPad”, “Xbox”, etc. Many other MMA organizations have successfully promoted events without ever referencing the word “Octagon.” I also believe any promotion using the word “Ultimate” in their name is obviously trying to attract an audience based on the UFC name.

    I know many high profile MMA fighters regularly attend local MMA events with no problem from their respective organizations. While I agree it’s unfortunate that Swick and Fitch will not be able to attend, I believe Enriquez brought it upon himself and could have avoided their absence by simply communicating through the proper channels and promoting his event without stepping on Bellator or UFC’s toes.

    I don’t agree that the UFC is out to destroy small promotions. There are more than a handful of successful MMA promotions around the country that consistently promote great events and have no issue with the UFC, Bellator, etc. To make it in the big leagues, any prospective MMA fighter needs to start somewhere and develop their skills. It is asinine to think that the UFC is looking to destroy promotions from which they can draw future talent.

    Rob F.
    Los Angeles, CA