“I f***ing own the media. Let’s be real,” alleges Ali Abdelaziz in a conversation with fellow mixed martial arts (MMA) manager Fernand Lopez according to an October 7, 2022 BJPenn.com article titled, “Fernand Lopez Reveals The Threatening Messages He Received From Rival Manager and ‘Owner of MMA Media’ Ali Abdelaziz Over Slim Trabelsi Dispute: ‘Release Him or You’re Going to Get Hurt’.”
“Can I ask you a question?” asks Abdelaziz in another riddle to Lopez. “Why (do) you think Damon Martin (of MMAFighting) don’t put (the) story out? He has the story. I said, ‘Hey, please don’t put (it out). I don’t want this shit.’ Why (do) you think he don’t put it out? Because I don’t want it put out.”
“Fernand Lopez just wants the entire story out there,” writes author Cole Shelton. According to the report, “Recently, it was revealed that undefeated heavyweight prospect Slim Trabelsi signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship and was set to debut at UFC 280 against Parker Porter. However, the fight won’t take place as Trabelsi was released after Lopez and his promotion Ares FC wouldn’t let him go, which he says was for good reason.”
Trabelsi, who essentially went through a fighter development program under the tutelage of Lopez, is believed to be a blue chip prospect under contractual obligations with Ares FC. With a significant amount of time and money invested into the development of Trabelsi, Ares FC is understandably reluctant to let Trabelsi go without seeing a return on their investment.
Relating the story as he knows it to BJPenn.com, according to Lopez the saga really began to pick up steam after Trabelsi captured the Ares FC heavyweight title and Ali Abdelaziz is alleged to have contacted Slim backstage following the event. Later, UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard is said to have traveled to Paris to meet with Lopez, claiming Ali Abdelaziz was now representing Trabelsi.
“Mick said Ali said this was his guy,” Lopez explained to BJPenn.com. “I told Mick I will forward you the contract and you will find out very soon who has the rights and ask Ali to give you his contract. After that, I didn’t hear from Mick and I was talking to Mick about my other guys in the UFC and I saw on Twitter, Brett Okamoto (ESPN) reported that Slim would be fighting at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi.”
“One of Slim’s coaches is friends with me,” Lopez later went on to explain. “And he told me that Ali and Slim had a video call after he won the belt and spoke Arabic. He was saying, ‘don’t worry I got your back, Mick and Dana White are my men. Don’t worry you will be in the UFC. F*** him, you don’t have to be scared of the management contract…’”
“Slim decided to just screw me,” explained Lopez. “I kept writing him after he won the belt, he didn’t answer me. Mick is telling me I need to talk to Slim and Slim e-mailed Mick and told him my manager is Ali Abdelaziz which is not possible because I have the contract. Usually," explains Lopez, "when this happens the UFC won’t allow it and will go to the manager with the contract. At this point, Mick was very disappointed, he called Ali and asked for the contract, Ali didn’t have one. He called me, I sent him the contract and from there he told me he was releasing Slim.
“Yet,” writes Shelton, “that is when Abdelaziz began messaging and calling Lopez. The Frenchman recorded some of their alleged conversation and screenshotted text messages that he sent to BJPENN.com where Abdelaziz claimed that he owns the MMA media which is why they are making Lopez look bad.”
In what increasingly sounds like an attempted mafioso shakedown, privately sources tell the MMA Press Room that they have been warned to stand down on this and other topics in mixed martial arts under the threat of losing all that they hold dear in this world. With intimidation tactics common place in mixed martial arts, everything from death threats to extortion plots have been used in combat sports in an attempt to leverage control of some of the biggest names in the industry today. Incredibly, former UFC welterweight champion Colby Covington even went as far as to suggest Ali Abdelaziz threatened to shoot him following an event in Las Vegas according to a 2019 MMA Junkie report.
The treatment of the athletes notwithstanding, one can draw many parallels with mixed martial arts and the early Pankration sporting events first introduced to the Olympics back in 648 BC, where the rights to today’s independent contractors are bought and sold in the modern day slave trade of mixed martial arts much the same as their gladiatorial slave counterparts so many centuries ago. With Ali Abdelaziz claiming ownership of everyone and everything in MMA from Slim Trabelsi, the media, to even the UFC president Dana White himself, the devil is in the details in examining exactly how the UFC conducts business. As we are forced to contemplate the sovereign nature of the mixed martial arts media, reading between the lines results in observing the otherwise unobservable in combat sports - which is a place where "I f***ing own the media, let’s be real.”