A mixed martial arts event scheduled for this Saturday in Macau has been cancelled amidst allegations that the promoter has embezzled nearly $13 million in Hong Kong currency. Damien Roche, the promoter and former Director of the Kontact MMA Training Center in Hong Kong, is in hiding.
Fighters scheduled to compete on the card, including Strikeforce signee Carina “Beauty But The Beast” Damm, were stranded in Macau after it was discovered that all hotel rooms and return flights had been cancelled. The fighters are now pursuing alternative means of returning home.
Note: An updated article with Damien Roche’s account of the events has been posted here. Roche’s comments, which were not available during the initial stages of this story when this article was posted, directly contradict the accusations made by Roche’s former associates, Kevin Don and Olivier Doleuze. Don and Doleuze’s accusations are detailed in the article below.
Fury 2: “Armageddon” was set to take place this Saturday, October 9th, at the City of Dreams Grand Hyatt Ballroom in Cotai, Macau. The promotion’s debut event in May went off without any major issues and Saturday’s card had been scheduled to crown two promotional champions. UFC veteran Jess “The Joker” Liaudin was initially matched against Eiji Ishikawa for the Fury Welterweight Championship, while Antony Rea was to face Jason Jones for the Fury Light Heavyweight title.
However, upon arrival in Macau earlier this week, fighters learned that the event had been cancelled after the venue allegedly discovered that Roche had embezzled $600,000 HK from them in payments. It was then revealed that Roche had been fired from his position as Director of the Kontact MMA Training Center on Monday after accountants discovered that he had allegedly stolen over $12 million HK from them as well. With hotel rooms cancelled, allegedly by Roche, fighters had nowhere to stay and realised that they were stranded in Macau with no return flights until next Monday.
Unfortunately, Roche also allegedly cancelled all of the return flights and pocketed the money, forcing fighters to find other means of returning home. Roche is currently wanted by the Hong Kong police and has gone into hiding. The owner of the Kontact gym, who had fired Roche, filed for bankruptcy and has not returned phone calls requesting comment on the situation. Employees who worked at the gym now find themselves without a job as a result of Roche’s reported actions and the subsequent closure of the establishment.
With the aid of their respective managers, some of the fighters who were scheduled to compete on the Fury 2 card have worked out alternative arrangements to return home now that the event is off. However, the arrangements have been made at their own expense. Other fighters remain trapped in Macau with no immediate way home.
MMARising.com will have further updates on this story as they become available.
Update: Jess Liaudin, who was originally scheduled to face Eiji Ishikawa on the card, withdrew from the event before travelling to Macau and was not among the fighters stranded. Former two-division King of Pancrase Kiuma Kunioku also withdrew from the card prior to these recent events. He had been set to face Vincent Latoel.
Note (October 18, 2010): Numerous sources have confirmed to MMARising.com that initial attempts to reach Damien Roche by phone and e-mail failed. Thus, requests for comment on this matter went unanswered for days as Roche was unavailable to address the accusations during the time that fighters and managers were stranded in Macau. All accusations directed towards Roche were made by Kevin Don, Olivier Doleuze and (reportedly) the City of Dreams casino itself. MMARising.com reported only on the information that was provided, as Roche could not be reached for comment prior to or immediately after the event’s cancellation.