Behind the scenes of the Battlefield FC 2 scam
By now, you’ve probably heard about the Battlefield FC 2 event in Macau, China this past weekend that began, continued, and predictably, ended in controversy.
You might have heard about the last-minute decision by U.S.-based officials to not make the flight to Macau amid their concerns regarding non-payment and unfulfilled pre-fight obligations, leaving Battlefield FC without professional referees and judges.
Maybe you heard about the incompetence of those un-officials that took the job. How the opening round of the night’s first fight ended without a bell or horn to sound the round’s conclusion, while the anti-climatic end of that same fight came when the defeated fighter turned and walked away in the midst of being battered, before the referee finally realized what was happening and waved off the fight about five seconds after it was already over.
Or how Mateusz Rebecki trapped a helpless Kaik Brito in topside crucifix during their fight and landed a countless barrage of unanswered punches and elbows before the official finally recognized the position and humanely waved it off.
Or you might have heard about Gleison Tibau catching Will Brooks in a guillotine choke in the opening moments of the first round of the Battlefield FC 2 main event, and how the ref stopped the fight way too early, without checking Brooks’ arm per proper protocol or making any attempt to determine his consciousness.
Or maybe you have even heard about how Battlefield FC didn’t pay their fighters again. That’s right, again. And how some fighters were paid by “Tommy” the matchmaker, but most are still apparently waiting.
Indeed, there are a lot of stories you may hear coming out of Battlefield FC. But you won’t hear this story anywhere else about Battlefield, and what it took to make sure I got paid.
This story is mine:
For me, Battlefield FC was a golden opportunity to show what I can do as a play-by-play commentator for a world class fight card on pay-per-view, without the distraction of being a ring announcer. It didn’t hurt that the financial offer was the most lucrative I had ever received.
What is that old adage about something being too good to be true? But I digress.
My contract to work for Battlefield FC 2 was sent that Sunday prior to the event, and my flight was bought on Tuesday night for a flight leaving the next day. It was a whirlwind two days leading up to it, spent driving five hours each way going from Jacksonville to Miami and back, and then back again the next day, in an effort to get my passport expedited within 24 hours.
Over 1200 driving miles and $400 in government fees and gas money later, I got it done. Just like that, I was on the plane with my Inside Fighting Radio co-host George Adamia and on our way to Macau!
The morning of my flight I googled Battlefield FC and discovered the problems they had paying fighters after their first event in 2017. I immediately contacted “Tommy” through WhatsApp and expressed my concern about what I had read, and he assured me those problems were in the past and that he would be paying me himself after the show, in US dollars at that, which I had him put in writing in my contract.
When I asked him how I was being picked up at the airport, Tommy said take a taxi to the hotel and his “guys” would be there to take care of the taxi payment and get me checked in. When I landed in Korea for a stopover after my 14-hour flight from Atlanta, I gave Tommy the heads up that I was almost in China. Again, I was told that his “guys” would be there “waiting” for me and not to even bother calling him again.
Needless to say, we arrived at the Grand Sheraton and there were no “guys” there “waiting” for me, and no Tommy in sight. To further complete the ridiculousness, I was told by the concierge that neither of us had a room booked at the hotel.
Did I mention I left my cell phone in the taxi?
So here I am, stuck in another country with no hotel room and no phone. The taxi and dinner that was supposed to be paid for, well that was now my problem. I was just 45 minutes into my time in Macau and nothing that was promised had been delivered.
But then it all started to come together for us.
Miraculously, George somehow made contact with the taxi driver that had dropped us off and was able to get my phone returned almost immediately.
Soon after, a smaller Korean guy wearing a “Battlefield” shirt showed up with 1000 pataka (Macau money) to give us for food and the taxi, checked us into the hotel and we were now on way to the 5th floor where the fights were being held the next day, and to finally meet Tommy.
Since I was on high alert about not being met at the hotel upon arrival, I pulled no punches with Tommy during that first meeting and told him that now I was even more concerned about being paid after the fight.
It was here that the line between lies and deception started to blur as Tommy, whose real name is not actually Tommy but Yang Seung Ho, told me a story of how the fighters were stiffed at the last show because there were three CEOs and the two CEOs screwed over the one CEO and left with all of the money. But this time there was only one CEO so that was no longer a problem, according to Tommy. Better yet, I was told that they had come to Macau from Korea with all US dollars to pay the fighters.
So there it was, there would be no problems this time around, according to Tommy. All the money being paid to the fighters and people involved with the fight was going to be in US dollars and they had already brought it over from Korea. We were good to go!
In spite of the repeated assurances, I was not quite so confident about being paid. They stiffed the fighters once before, how could I be so sure they wouldn’t do it again? Not to mention, I was promised multiple times I would be greeted upon arriving at the Sheraton and it didn’t happen. I wasn’t about to find out what else they might lie to me about. As I strapped on my headset to start the pay per view telecast on fite.tv, I turned to George and said “we are making a beeline to that Tommy guy when this show is over” to get paid.
I turned to George as soon as I signed us off the air and said “beeline.” A minute later, we were in front of Tommy thanking him for the opportunity and asking to get paid.
“One hour” was the answer, and this was where the real fun started. “Why one hour?” I asked cuttingly, and wouldn’t you know it, in spite of his story the night before, now his “guy” was getting the Korean money transferred to US dollars and would be there in one hour.
“But I thought you told me this whole story about how you wouldn’t have this problem again with the one CEO, and how you guys brought all US dollars over this time,” which prompted the unconvincing response from Tommy of “that’s what I thought too.”
He then offered to pay us in Hong Kong dollars, to which my increasingly worried friend and co-host George initially accepted only to get rebutted by my unwillingness to accept anything but what I was guaranteed in my contract, which I pulled out on the spot to provide Tommy a visual reminder.
I was not about to get crushed on the conversion rate and besides, we were promised US dollars, and by George (Adamia), we were getting US dollars!
It was also around this time that I first heard D.J. Linderman mention that he was told that the fighters were being paid at their hotel rooms at 2 a.m., a seemingly odd place and time to pay a professional mixed martial artist his fight purse.
I then watched and listened to Tommy tell one of the co-main event competitors Shannon Ritch that he was being paid at 2 a.m. along with the rest of the fighters. I had no clue why they were telling all of the fighters they would be paid at 2 a.m. at their hotel room. It all sounded so shady.
So one hour wait it was, and as I told him I would, I stayed with Tommy the entire time. When he went to a room to talk with Muhsin Corrbey’s team, who were upset with the decision loss to Ben Wall and demanding to see the scorecard, I walked with him and waited outside the room.
When he took two steps to the left, I took two steps to the left. And when I got stuck in a brief conversation with one of the fighters and lost track of Tommy for an instant, I nervously hustled down the hall and spotted him walking into the bathroom. When he walked out of the bathroom, I was there waiting for him.
And then, about an hour after the fights ended, that little Korean guy showed up again, running down the hall towards Tommy as I was following behind.
George said the little guy froze when he saw me, but I didn’t notice that. I was singularly focused on Tommy, who quickly called me over to meet with them. He paid me off in fresh $100 bills and had me take a picture with the money spread out in my hand so he could show his boss the proof that I was paid. I walked away, fist bumped George and that was it.
The next morning, as George was getting angry at the entire Korean airport for his inability to convert 900 pataka outside of Macau, the texts started coming in from fighters who hadn’t been paid, who were told 2 a.m. and nobody showed up.
Five days later, and several fighters, including Shannon Ritch, have still yet to be paid. It isn’t right. As of Thursday night, Tommy said “only three fighters are still unpaid.”
“Only.” As if.
So there you have it. The fighters got stiffed, again, but hopefully Battlefield FC makes it right. I got us paid in cash and we made our flight home, where I was greeted after 30+ hours of travel by my amazing girlfriend and loving dog. And yes, George is still mad about not being able to convert his 900 pataka outside of Macau.
Scott Lewis was the 2018 Media Source of the Year by the Florida MMA Awards, and the 2019 Ring Announcer of the Year by the Universal Martial Arts Hall of Fame. Scott is the host of Inside Fighting Radio, former editor of the Long Beach Herald Newspaper, former associate editor of Sports Arizona magazine and a longtime General Manager of TITLE Boxing Club.