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CFO Fights Ex-Colleague — on Court, and in Court

A basketball brawl led a former UFC executive to sue the mixed martial arts promoter's now-finance chief.
David McCannJanuary 27, 2016
CFO Fights Ex-Colleague — on Court, and in Court

It makes sense that companies like to “eat their own cooking” — as happens when a software firm, say, deploys its products within internal systems, or a furniture manufacturer outfits its offices with its own wares.

It’s no different for Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts promotion company.

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Well, maybe it’s a little different at UFC.

UFC beltOn September 4, 2014, two UFC executives participating in a basketball game — one of whom is now the company’s CFO — engaged in some enthusiastic fighting of their own, according to a report in Bloody Elbow, a publication that covers mixed martial arts, particularly UFC doings.

One of the combatants, former executive vice president of entertainment Donald Gold, accused the future finance chief, Nakisa Bidarian — at the time, executive vice president of strategy and business ventures — of maliciously throwing a basketball at Gold’s head and causing permanent hearing loss after the ball struck his ear, Bloody Elbow reported.

(Bloody Elbow apparently viewed a civil complaint Gold filed against Bidarian the following March, as well as a subsequent counterclaim by Bidarian. The actions were filed in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, which does not — in keeping with the city’s infamous marketing tagline — provide online access to civil complaints. The court’s website does show, though, that the parties filed legal actions against one another, and that the case type is “Intentional Misconduct.”)

In his counterclaim, Bidarian charged that Gold violently elbowed him to the body, whereupon Bidarian threw a basketball that “inadvertently” struck Gold, according to Bloody Elbow’s reporting. Gold, for his part, had said in the original complaint that Bidarian became upset when he “mistakenly believed” he had been fouled, the publication wrote.

But is the he-said, he-said case really about what happened on the basketball court?

While Bidarian reportedly claimed that after the ball hit Gold, Gold charged him, struck him with his fist, and was restrained by at least four people, he also said that both parties continued to play basketball after the incident. He alleged that the real motive for Gold’s legal action was “professional jealousy,” according to the Bloody Elbow article.

Bidarian’s counterclaim, the article continues, said that Gold was relieved of his duties “on or about February 2015” (although a Bleacher Report article from October 2015 said Gold was only then “retiring” from the company). Bidarian, who was promoted to CFO on Jan. 4 of this year, reportedly has claimed that his former colleague’s legal action was “retaliatory,” spurred by a belief that Bidarian was responsible for his dismissal.

A trial in the case is scheduled to begin Sept. 6. Gold reportedly is requesting general damages (including but not limited to pain and suffering), actual and compensatory damages, and punitive damages, each “in an amount in excess of $10,000,” the maximum that can be specified in civil claims in Nevada. If the plaintiff prevails, the court will then determine whether greater damages are justified.

UFC referred a request for comment to Bidarian’s attorney, who, like Gold’s attorney, did not respond to CFO‘s communications.

Image: Wikimedia, user MDBR, GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or later

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