Shawne Merriman, a well-known celebrity athlete and former NFL star, was victorious in arbitration against the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF). Merriman, widely recognized for his commentary on ESPN, Fox Sports, The Chargers Pre-Game Show, and his “Lights Out” clothing company, entered into a one year contract for three fights effective on July 20, 2018.
The first fight was scheduled for November 9, 2018 in Casper, Wyoming, for which Merriman was to be paid $500,000 plus viewership royalty. WBKFF quickly began to promote the bout, giving a strong publicity boost to the WBKFF’s inaugural event.
Merriman underwent an intensive training regimen to be well-prepared for the fight. He took a stop-at-nothing approach to training, like he takes to all his endeavors, with his daily training sessions regularly lasting up to ten hours. They included hitting boards with his bare knuckles and sparring with a heavyweight boxer.
“It was three months of pain,” said Merriman. “I always trained hard in the NFL and I believed I was going to train the same way to earn my reputation as a fighter.”
Just days before the scheduled event, according to the arbitration decision, WBKFF announced it would not pay Merriman the $500,000 required under his contract before the fight. Merriman immediately filed for arbitration and got an Emergency Order making sure WBKFF would not take the money and leave him or the other fighters high and dry. WBKFF had other ideas. Although Merriman was cleared for the fight by the Wyoming State Board of Mixed Martial Arts, WBKFF told Merriman the day before the fight that this Wyoming Board would not allow him to participate as scheduled. Despite this supposed excuse for pulling him from the fight, WBKFF promoted his role on November 9th right up through that fight day.
The arbiter, who found the testimony of Merriman to be credible, noted, “Claimant fully complied with his contractual obligation under the Agreement and was ready, willing and able to fight, as scheduled, at the November 9, 2018 event in Casper. Merriman’s final act of performance under the Arbitration Agreement – -fighting at the November 9, 2018 event – – was prevented” by WBKFF. The decision went on to state: “WBKFF’s conduct in this matter was apparently meant to take advantage of Claimant’s celebrity and then avoid the Emergency Order and the obligation to pay as required under the Agreement.”
The decision gives Merriman “$499,000.00 with pre-award interest of $11,385.14 dollars and post-award interest at the Wyoming statutory rate of 10% from the date of the award, plus Claimants attorneys’ fees and costs.”
“The arbiter’s decision makes it clear that I am someone who is serious about fighting,” said Merriman. “I was fully trained and ready to go and the only reason I could not participate in all three fights under the contract is because WBKFF would not allow me to. This victory has me ready for the next chapter for Lights Out!”
SOURCE Shawne Merriman
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