Chael Sonnen’s lawyer Ross Goldberg has sent a letter to the Nevada State Athletic Commission that asks for clarification on if Sonnen can compete at Metamoris 4. Goldberg doesn’t think the grappling event violates the terms of Sonnen’s two-year suspension.
On July 30, NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar said that the match with Andre Galvao was banned because Sonnen agreed not to fight in any jurisdiction. Aguilar threatened more punishments if Sonnen competes anyway in Los Angeles on Saturday. Goodman then sent the letter and asked why NSAC didn’t mention the grappling match during the July 23 hearing before his suspension.
He wrote: “There is no dispute that the NSAC has no jurisdiction or authority to regulate, license or sanction jiu-jitsu and other forms of grappling. Moreover, jiu-jitsu does not fall within the Nevada definition of unarmed combat because it does not involve ‘blows’ of any kind. Likewise, it would be a violation of due process to expand the interpretation of “fighting” broader than the statutory definition of unarmed combat. In our view, there could be no violation under NRS 467.885 as any interpretation to include jiu-jitsu or grappling would be outside of the NSAC’s jurisdiction and constitute an invalid order.”
He then sent the request for clarification from Aguilar. He noted the event happens on Saturday and he referenced an interview with Globo/Combate’s Evelyn Rodriguez about the suspension. In the interview, Rodriguez asked if only MMA fights counted. Aguilar said that wrestling is not subject to the suspension but “gi grappling” is, along with “anything sanctioned under our rules as an unarmed combat”.
Goodman said he received no response. The NSAC defines unarmed combat as “boxing or any form of competition in which a blow is usually struck which may reasonably be expected to inflict injury.” However, there is a separate statute that says “all full-contact martial arts are forms of unarmed combat” and that “the provisions pertaining to licenses, fees, dates of programs and disciplinary action in the laws and regulations on unarmed combat apply to contests or exhibitions of such martial arts.” It remains to be seen how the rules are interpreted and how it will affect Sonnen’s status.