Updated: Jan 12
We here at NEMMA are always for supporting fighters, gyms, and promotions, in an effort to elevate the sport in our region. We very rarely take the angle of calling out someone's misgivings, but we are also in the business of transparency, and notifying the community when unethical occurrences transpire. These aren't the type of articles we like to write, but we feel they are necessary for the community to be aware, and for each individual to make their own judgements on a particular situation.
Due to a series of unfortunate findings, it has come to our attention at NewEnglandMMA.org that there are numerous fighters still waiting to be paid by Premier FC stemming from their last event on November 19th in Springfield, Massachusetts. Not only have a number of fighters not been paid their show and win money, but the athletic commission has also not yet received their fees due for the event.
The Massachusetts State Athletic Commission held their monthly meeting today via Zoom, and I was fortunate enough to attend and take some notes. Towards the end of the meeting, long time UFC Fighter Marcus Davis, who was the main event winner from the Premier FC 32 show, jumped on to make a statement during the public comment portion of the meeting. Davis went on to say that he has still not been paid his show or win money from the event, now 7 weeks later. From what we've been told, Davis' purse fees are in the $8,000 range, and he has yet to see a dime. He also stated that he paid $3,600 for medicals out of his own pocket, and also flew his wife and kids in to attend the fight, making the experience about a $10,000 expenditure for him and his family when it was all said and done.
Davis went on to acknowledge that a 2nd fighter; Ronny Markes, Premier FC 32's co-main event winner, is also still waiting to be paid his show and win purse. It's safe to assume that Markes, another UFC veteran, is likely owed a substantial sum of money from the Premier organization as well. Couple those instances with an Athletic Commission who is still waiting on their compensation from the November 19th show, and Premier now finds themselves in quite the predicament. That's at least 2 fighters, and one governing body that have not received contracted fees from Premier FC.
Further complicating this issue, we have tried to look up the owner/promoter of Premier FC (Karyn Wesch) on Facebook, and can no longer find any existence of her. It appears she has deleted her FB account based on our research. This revolation doesn't seem all too suprising, as Marcus Davis was quoted as saying that he has received little to no communication back from Premier FC when it comes to his purse payment. Davis also made the comment that he's received some interesting excuses as to why he hasn't been paid his fees, noting that Wesch had said that her "investor's" accounts had been frozen because they were being investigated to have "terrorist ties".
This whole thing reads like a soap opera, but it doesn't end there. This all seems very suspicious, and when you peel back the onion even further, you'll find even more shady activity.
Premier had publicly announced that they would be holding an all amateur event just one week following their pro card on 11/19 (Premier FC 32). From the outside looking in this seemed like a very haphazardly put together amateur show with little to no notice, but it all makes a lot more sense after seeing these recent events unfold. In my opinion, Premier was trying to put on this amateur show, with no show/win purses to pay for amateurs to compete, quickly after their professional event on 11/19 once they realized that ticket sales were not going as planned for the 11/19 show. In my opinion, this was an attempt to recoup some costs from the poor financial position that the 11/19 event put them in, and they were hoping to pay the professional fighters and commission after they took in revenues from the amateur event that was set to take place the following week. The amateur event was canceled a handful of days before it should have taken place, with the venue being "double-booked" as the excuse given to us.
This all appears very shady when you get a good close look into it, Karyn and Premier clearly have no business promoting fights in this community and should should not be allowed to promote an event in the state of Massachusetts ever again. The commission is already in discussions about suspending her license, and there has been serious thought into accessing her $50,000 bond, that each promotion must carry in the state of Massachusetts. A bond set forth to pay the fighters and also the commission their respective fees if the promotion cannot do so. We are told that if the bond is indeed accessed, Premier FC will never hold another event in the state of Massachusetts, or most likely, anywhere ever again. Ultimately marking the end for the once thriving New England promotion.
I was always a supporter of Karyn and Premier FC, but when fighters are not being paid for putting their lives on the line, and when lies are told to them and the MMA community as a whole, then there needs to be some repercussions for those actions. This is not the first time that Premier has bounced checks, but with any luck...it will be the last.
Below is a recording of the audio from the MSAC hearing today where Marcus Davis makes public comment about his current situation. You'll also hear me chime in with my two cents (I couldn't help myself). Hopefully Premier steps up and makes it right with Marcus, Markes, and the commission (and whomever else that they might owe).
UPDATE: Since the publication of this article a number of other fighters have come forward stating that they also have not been paid by Premier FC. The list now stands at: Marcus Davis, Ronny Markes, Kibedy Gordon, Cam Resnisky, and Niyaz Ahmed.
Marcus Davis comments during the Massachusetts State Athletic Committee hearing on 1/12/22
Some pertinent quotes from Marcus Davis during the MSAC hearing today:
“She has been able to put my family through hell over the last couple of months here. They've completely no contact, I'm having no contact.”
“The last, I could show you the last text message she sent me. It was a heartfelt text message telling me that her husband has now divorced her because of this and all this financial issue she's having and all the problems she's having and that she's begging me just not to basically, she says, to come public and ruin her reputation and her business. Whereas she said no, nothing, to try to provide me with the confidence that I'm going to be paid under what contract we had.”
"I traveled and basically, that month I had invested a little over $10,000, and then to have the fight happen, make absolutely nothing and have Christmas come right up after the corner."