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Tag: Ken Pavia

Exclusive: Strikeforce Women’s Middleweight Champ Cris ‘Cyborg’ is Officially a Free Agent and Is Close to Coming to Terms With a New Promotion

Well, Cris “Cyborg” Santos is officially a free agent, which either means that Strikeforce was unwilling to pay her what she felt she was worth, or that Zuffa has decided against continuing to promote women’s MMA under the SF banner. Either way, it’s a blow to the promotion’s women’s division.

A source we spoke to today received confirmation from Cyborg’s management that Zuffa’s exclusive negotiation period with the 10-1 Curitiba, Brazil fighter ended yesterday and that the parent company of Strikeforce and the UFC failed to come to terms with the Strikeforce women’s middleweight champ before she became a free agent at the stroke of midnight.


UFC Reportedly Loses ‘Huge’ New Sponsorship After Online Poker Indictments

(“I survived the Full Tilt Poker bust and all I got was this crappy jacket.” Too soon? Pic:

The federal indictments lobbed at three top poker websites late last week – including noted fight sponsor Full Tilt Poker – continue to cause a troubling ripple effect in the MMA world, new reports indicate. You may have already seen the stories over the weekend about how much the sudden absence of such poker site dough may or may not adversely affect the bottom line of individual fighters, but notable sports business reporter Darren Rovell (who works a lot on ESPN) now says the charges against Full Tilt also mean the loss of an important upcoming deal for the UFC.

“The UFC had a huge new sponsorship deal on the table with Full Tilt that will now go out the window with the feds bust,” Rovell tweeted on Monday afternoon. This came on the heels of a story from MMA Junkie quoting agent Ken Pavia saying the poker shutdown “will severely impact fighters’ sponsor revenue, which traditionally matched their show pay for our televised clients.”

So yeah, any time big sponsors drop out (or get indicted) and their money gets taken out of the pockets of fighters and the coffers of the only important company left in the industry, we have to do the Dennis Hopper voice again: Bad things, man. For those of you who may have actually gone outside or done things with friends/family over the weekend, a short recap of the story and some reflection on what it might mean for MMA are after the jump.


Cage Potato Profile: Marquee MMA Agent Ken Pavia

(Photo courtesy

Ken Pavia is a firm believer of the old adage, “Everything happens for a reason.”

When he inadvertently became an MMA agent six years ago, it was a result of the sport finding him and not the other way around, but looking back he says he’s thankful that it did.

Working as a traditional sports agent since graduating from the University of Miami School of Law and opening his first agency, Pavia says that he always had an eye for talent and would often put his skill to use outside of his practice, which caught the attention of an early MMA media pioneer.

“I had a men’s league softball team in Huntington Beach. I was acting as a pseudo-General Manager for the team and I had pretty much the best players from every team who competed on our team. There were probably 500 teams in the leagues and our team always made it to the ‘A’ league championships every year. The umpire for the league came to me and asked me how it was that I came to have all of the best players from all of the teams on my team and I told him I was a mainstream sports agent,” Pavia recalls. “He was told me, ‘I have a website that covers MMA.’ By coincidence, I was a fan and I bought UFC 1 and we chatted a bit about the sport and he told me to check out his website. That was [ founder] Jeff Sherwood. We struck up a friendship and have been great friends ever since. That was probably 10 years ago.”


Exclusive: ‘Razor’ Rob McCullough Talks About Life, Family, His Fall From the Top and His Climb Back to the Big Leagues

(‘Razor’ is looking to get back to the top, no matter what it takes.)

Three years ago “Razor” Rob McCullough was on top of the world. The WEC champion was riding a nine-fight winning streak of which eight were finishes and there seemed to be no end to his run.

Then it happened.

In the third round of his second title defense, it seemed like McCullough was close to finishing Jamie Varner. Before he could go for the kill, Varner spit out his mouthgard and got a timeout to rinse it off, which allowed him to recover. Soon after, “The Worm” caught “Razor” with a handful of punches and won via TKO.

Four fights later McCullough was fired from the WEC without much explanation, in spite of the fact that he split them 2-2.

Since being unceremoniously dropped by the promotion, Razor Rob has gone 2-0 under the Tachi Palace Fights banner and most recently defeated UFC veteran Corey Hill last weekend by unanimous decision.

According to the former WEC lightweight champ, who is enjoying life sober, married and as a father of a six-month-old son, says he’s doing what he has to do to get back on the roster of a major organization, which he reveals is likely to happen soon and he says he’ll fight anyone who wants to fight him.

We caught up with Razor this week and spoke candidly and at length about a variety of topics including his childhood, his life, his family, his new goals as a fighter and the business of MMA.

I’ll warn you that the interview is very lengthy, but it’s worth the read if you have time as it reveals a personal, thoughtful and mature side of McCullough that fans rarely get a glimpse of in his pre-fight interviews.


Zuffa Sues Agent Ken Pavia and Bellator Over ‘Theft of Trade Secrets’

Ken Pavia puppy MMA agent
(The little guy may look sweet, but he bit a toddler’s face at a birthday party later that day. Wasn’t the first time that Pavia’s done that, either.)

Prominent MMA agent Ken Pavia — whose client roster includes such well-known fighters as Martin Kampmann, Chris Lytle, Anthony Johnson, and Cristiane "Cris Cyborg" Santos — is in serious hot water with the UFC. As first reported by Yahoo!’s Kevin Iole, Zuffa LLC has filed a suit alleging that Pavia passed along trade secrets and confidential Zuffa documents to upstart MMA promotion Bellator, which used the documents to help run its business. Bellator is named as a co-defendent in the suit, as well as other unnamed individuals and corporations that Zuffa alleges participated in breach of contract. From the Yahoo! piece:

According to the suit, filed Wednesday in Clark County District Court, Pavia delivered confidential contracts, including fighter agreements, to Bellator after being asked to do so in a July 4 email to him from Bellator founder Bjorn Rebney

An email which Zuffa’s lawsuit alleges is from Rebney to Pavia on July 4 was attached as an exhibit to the 16-page suit. In it, Rebney writes, ” … You’ve been great about sending us ‘All’ of the seminal docs from the UFC, so that we can re-do them and implement them for Bellator.”


EliteXC Fighters Threaten to File Formal Complaint If Not Released From Contracts

(‘Let my people go!’)

EliteXC fighters have apparently had enough of waiting around to see what becomes of their contracts, and are now threatening to get tough.  MMA Payout reports that many of the fighters have joined forces with the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters’ Association to bring a formal complaint against the organization for holding them in limbo all this time.  EliteXC is said to have been given a week to respond before the fighters file their complaint in court.

Some high-profile agents, such as Ken Pavia and Ed Soares, are thought to be involved with filing the complaint, just as they were in banding together to stop the auction of the remaining fighter contracts.

Let’s hope the outcome is that EliteXC finally admits the jig is up and lets everyone get on with their lives.  But if that was acceptable to them you’d have to wonder why they haven’t done it already.  At least the clock is ticking now, so we should at least be moving in the direction of some sort of resolution.


MMA Agents Unite to Block Pro Elite Contract Auction

Ken Pavia MMA agents
(You do not want to mess with this man. Photo courtesy of CombatLifestyle via

Led by the always-outspoken Ken Pavia, a group of high-profile MMA agents have joined forces to block their fighters from being sold to the highest bidder during Showtime’s planned auction of Pro Elite’s corporate assets on November 17th. From a new press release drafted by the Pav, and signed by Monte Cox, Ed Soares, and Cesar Gracie, among others:

Individually we consummated promotional agreements with Pro Elite. These agreements were made based on a multiplicity of factors including but not limited to relationships with certain Pro Elite personnel, venues, television exposure, jurisdictional concerns, public relations support, and numerous other intangibles. These considerations are not readily transferable…

We intend to fight the lawful ability to transfer these assets, and as we believe these are personal services contracts, we do not believe there is an obligation to perform if transferred. With pooled resources we are prepared to fight this issue.

The unity of this effort is unprecedented and the message that is being sent is clear. Absent significant pre-established negotiated terms, do not bid on these contracts unless you are prepared to fight the challenge to their legality. It is our intention to honor our commitment to Pro Elite, but if Pro Elite is not able to perform in accordance with the contractual terms, the fighters should be granted unrestricted free agency with the unfettered ability to enter the marketplace.

It’s good to see business rivals uniting for the rights of their fighters, especially when they haven’t always been civil towards each other in the past. Hopefully Showtime will get the message that some of these “assets” they plan on auctioning actually represent the livelihoods of human beings.


Joe Riggs Gives No Quarter to the Handicapped; Update on Back Injury


The love/hate relationship between Joe Riggs and his agent Ken Pavia is a matter of public record. In fact, Pavia has enough admiration for Joe Diesel that he has no problem blowing up the dude’s spot once in a while, as in his latest column for MMA Junkie. Though this story about Riggs’s run-in with a paraplegic grappler isn’t quite on the level of the Ricco Rodriguez car-accident switcheroo, it’s still pretty amazing. Check it:

[Nick] is a son of a bitch who is 200 lbs. of super-human upper-body strength and walks on his hands because he has no legs, literally…The first time Pat Miletich [told Riggs] to roll with him he thought it was a joke. Diesel playfully obliged and got into his guard. Nick proceeded to clap his stubs, which end mid-thigh, into Joe’s jugular vein and twist his arm off. He said his neck was sore for two weeks as a result. Joe said he got pissed and cursed at him. He said, “Let’s go again.” This time Nick grabbed him in a leg lock and was so strong that Joe was forced to tap again. But Nick, who apparently didn’t like to be cursed at, said “not yet Joe” and torqued it further. That kind of stuff doesn’t go ever well among fighters.

Now, Joe was really heated and demanded to try again. Well, he lasted a little longer — like a minute — before it was tap No. 3…Diesel was so upset that he stormed off to the locker room and showered up. In came Nick walking on his hands and Joe, in an act of retribution, proceeded to pee on the shower floor.

Nick then forced Joe to shampoo his hair for him. No, not really, but I like the visual.

By the way, Riggs is pain-free after undergoing a procedure yesterday to freeze three nerves in his lower back that were pinched by an out-of-place disc suffered in his fight with Cory Devela, and wants to get back in the cage as soon as possible. As Riggs told Pavia: “Make sure Devela doesn’t fight anyone else. I don’t want him exposed before I smash him.”


Joe Riggs vs. Cory Devela Strikeforce Video; Update on Riggs’ Injury

Here’s the Riggs/Devela fight from Saturday’s Strikeforce event, which shows just how Riggs got his back effed up.

Says agent Ken Pavia in an e-mail to CagePotato:

[Joe] is having a procedure this week where they freeze a nerve. Disc is impinging on nerve now. Similar pain to a broken hip. He is ok though.

After the surgery, they’ll know more regarding how long Riggs will be out of action. We’ll keep you posted.


Exclusive Interview: MMA Super-Agent Ken Pavia

(Heavyweight champion of the industry.)

Whether you need to take your fight career to the next level, or you’re stuck in a Thai prison for a “misunderstanding” with a local bar-girl, Ken Pavia is your man. The New York-bred, Huntington Beach-based MMA agent drives the careers of Karo Parisyan, Rob McCullough, Chris Lytle, James Thompson, Renato Sobral, Phil Baroni, and a few dozen others, and his work doesn’t stop at just arranging fights and locking down sponsorship deals. After realizing we knew next-to-nothing about what an MMA agent actually does, we decided to drop “The Pav” a line and get the lowdown on how he got his start and how he keeps on top of the competition. Also, coffee enemas.


You were a sports agent for 12 years after graduating from the Miami School of Law. Did you focus on any sport in particular?
I primarily represented baseball and hockey players, though I did have a couple basketball players and a football player. I had my own firm from about ’91 through ’03 or so.

And you’ve said you retired because you got bored. Was there more to it than that?
I don’t know if it was so much boredom — I was a boutique firm competing against larger, much better capitalized corporate firms, and capitalization was ultimately a stumbling block in my ability to maintain higher-profile guys. I’d recruit a football player coming out of college, and it’d be about six to nine months before he saw any money, and he’d want a couple-hundred-thousand dollar advance. After a while I needed a break from recruiting and the daily grind.

So what did you plan on doing with the rest of your life?
Well, I took a couple years off and sat on the couch, watched sports, ate bon-bons, and went through a divorce. I was semi-retired and trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Eventually I opened up an auto auction and I met Ricco Rodriguez, who dragged me into the MMA game.

Was Ricco your first client?
He was. A mutual friend introduced us, and Ricco sat me down and said “We need mainstream agents to cross over and help the fighters get the kind of compensation that the owners are getting.” I had been a fan of the sport — I think I’d seen pretty much every UFC event — but Ricco’s the one who convinced me to get in from a business standpoint.

How did you go about finding and attracting clients in those early days?
Having the former UFC heavyweight champion was sort of a high-profile thing, and being in Huntington Beach — which was a hotbed for MMA talent at the time — I was able to find a couple of local guys with Ricco’s help. I’d take Ricco to fights, he’d meet the up-and-coming talent, and they’d pretty much come to me. I was blessed that the talent was seeking us out as opposed to the grind I had in other sports.