Ronda Rousey’s coach testifies about going bankrupt while training the UFC’s biggest star

Ronda Rousey's coach, Edmond Tarverdyan, testified under oath on Wednesday afternoon at the office of the U.S. Trustee in downtown Los Angeles as part…

By: Paul Gift | 8 years ago
Ronda Rousey’s coach testifies about going bankrupt while training the UFC’s biggest star
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Ronda Rousey’s coach, Edmond Tarverdyan, testified under oath on Wednesday afternoon at the office of the U.S. Trustee in downtown Los Angeles as part of the required 341 hearing in his bankruptcy proceedings. The trustee asked questions about the ownership of Glendale Fighting Club (GFC), his financial arrangements with Ronda Rousey and Travis Browne, his income in 2015, and how payments flow, along with a list of other topics.

For more on Tarverdyan’s case, see Bloody Elbow’s original report with all the financial details and follow up report on the trustee’s investigation.

The U.S. Trustee did not allow audio or video recording of the proceedings, but did allow note taking. The questions and answers sometimes occurred very quickly and answers were sometimes (understandably) muffled.

Disclaimer: The following is BloodyElbow’s best attempt at transcribing the key elements of the session. The text contains a general summary of the questions and answers. Direct quotes are specifically noted.

Hearing Updates

The session started with the trustee informing all parties that they will be under oath and the FBI could investigate any errors or omissions, possibly leading to civil or criminal penalties.

The trustee began his questioning of Tarverdyan by asking if he brought the requested documents from their first meeting. Tarverdyan said he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The trustee told him it’s a September inquiry letter and credit card statements. Tarverdyan revealed that he hasn’t used a credit card for eight years.

The trustee noted that Tarverdyan testified at the last meeting that GFC had been transferred and asks if he has a name of the transferee. Tarverdyan said it was transferred to his wife, Diana Avetisyan, and added something to the effect of he didn’t know it had been in her name for many years. He simply trains fighters.

Question: Was Tarverdyan ever an officer of GFC?
Tarverdyan’s answer: No.

Q: Ever a shareholder?
A: No.
Q: What’s the reason for it being in his wife’s name instead of his?
A: I was bad at doing finances.

Tarverdyan then stated that he didn’t understand the bankruptcy situation and didn’t know there was $700,000 in debt to his name. He claimed that he just signed the first page of the bankruptcy filing his initial attorney gave him. [Writer’s note: This will be the essence of Tarverdyan’s position, that his initial attorney put together a filing with “significant errors” and they are in the process of amending it.]

Q: Who handles GFC’s finances?
A: Diana.
Q: Who pays the bills?
A: Diana.
Q: Does the gym have an accountant?
A: Narek Alumyan.
Q: How long has Mr. Alumyan been the accountant?
A: My wife would know, but I think for a few years.

[Writer’s note: In addition to being the GFC accountant, Narek Alumyan states in a 2013 declaration that he was employed by Ronda Rousey with responsibilities “that can generally be classified as ‘business manager’ duties, has been reported by ESPN’s Darren Rovell to “run” Rowdy Ronda Inc., and had a 2011 bankruptcy case of his own with over $700,000 in debts, less than $3,000 in assets, and a claim of fraud by Burbank City Federal Credit Union which was eventually settled.]

Q: Does Tarverdyan discuss GFC finances with his wife?
A: No.

Tarverdyan said a fighter on a Showbox card might make $15,000 for a main event. With a 10% cut, that’s $1,500 to the gym, and they have expenses. “It’s not easy being a trainer.”

The trustee pointed out that Tarverdyan trains a high-profile fighter.

Q: What were (Tarverdyan’s) 2015 earnings?
A: I could not say. 

Tarverdyan’s attorney pointed out that all payments from fighters go direct to the corporation (GFC, I assume).

Q: Is Tarverdyan’s wife going to provide corporate records?
A: Yes.

Q: He trained Ronda Rousey for a dozen fights, correct?
A: Yes. And when she made only a little money, I never took 10%.

Tarverdyan then ran through various GFC training expenses.

He said he has no set contract with Rousey. When asked for an estimate of his 2015 earnings for training Rousey, he initially stated “six figures” then narrowed the answer to $200,000-300,000 for two fights this year. All the final results from Rousey’s UFC 193 title defense aren’t in yet.

Q: What’s his customary percentage for training?
A: 10%.
Q: What’s his financial arrangement with Travis Browne?
A: 10%.

The trustee asked for Browne’s pay for his upcoming fight and Tarverdyan revealed that he doesn’t want to disclose because Bloody Elbow was in attendance and taking notes.

Q: Does Tarverdyan have any sponsorships?
A: Yes, the gym does. Monster Energy. It pays a monthly fee (which sounded like $2,000 but is unconfirmed).

Q: The news reported that Tarverdyan drives a Range Rover?
A: It was a lender.

Tarverdyan then stated that the whole bankruptcy process became a mess and he doesn’t know what to do. His attorney interjected that there are “significant errors” in the original bankruptcy petition. It will be amended. Tarverdan’s attorney claimed that the amount of debt and the types of debt are wrong. His attorney further claimed that the actual unsecured debt is closer to half the current total and there have been no new debts since 2008.

Tarverdyan stated that he had financial issues through 2008 and thought it was okay to file for bankruptcy.

The proceedings closed with the scheduling of a follow up hearing on Dec. 30. BloodyElbow spoke with Tarverdyan and his attorney in the hallway and their position is that the original attorney cobbled together the initial filing and Tarverdyan signed what was handed to him without analyzing it in detail. They believed the whole thing has been blown out of proportion and will be cleared up soon. They are going to amend the bankruptcy petition and provide all requested records.

Bloody Elbow will report new details as they become available.

Paul is Bloody Elbow’s analytics writer and former provider of expert witness support in antitrust cases. Follow him @MMAanalytics.

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About the author
Paul Gift
Paul Gift

Dr. Paul Gift is a sports economist with a research focus on mixed martial arts. A licensed MMA referee and judge himself, Dr. Gift’s interests pertain to many facets of the MMA industry including behavioral biases and judging, the role of financial and environmental factors on fighter performance, determination of fighter marginal products, and predictive analytics.

A regular MMA business contributor for Forbes, Dr. Gift also writes about MMA analytics and officiating in popular press for SB Nation and co-hosts the MMA business podcast Show Money. His sports research has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, ESPN’s Grantland, and popular media including Around the Horn, Olbermann, and various MMA and boxing podcasts.

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