This past December, Staci Alonso was appointed the new commissioner for the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC), and was sworn in by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.
As it turns out, Alonso is also an Executive Vice President at the Station Casino, which are owned by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, previous majority owners of the UFC. The Fertittas sold there shares of the UFC over to WME-IMG last year, but still own a minor share in the company, Forbes estimates that share to be about 8% each. MMA Fighting first reported the story.
The aforementioned Governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, also received campaign donations from Zuffa (the UFC’s then parent company) and Station Casinos in 2014. In fact, Sandoval’s Election Night Party in 2014 was held at Red Rock Resorts Las Vegas, one of the casino’s owned by the Fertittas.
MMA Fighting contacted Mari St. Martin, the spokesperson for Governor Sandoval about a potential conflict of interest with Alonso and the UFC:
“The Governor appointed Staci Alonso to the Nevada State Athletic Commission,” St. Martin said in a statement. “The Commission has stringent rules in place to handle possible conflicts of interest and they receive regular advice from the Attorney General’s Office. All questions pertaining to such issues should be directed to the Commission.”
Bob Bennett, the NAC Executive Director, also issued a statement to MMA Fighting about the potential conflict of interest:
“(All Commissioners) will continue to do everything in their power to avoid any appearance of impropriety and to avoid conflicts by publicly disclosing material issues and, where an actual conflict exists, by abstaining from Commission votes.”
“We have no comment on any assertion of a general theoretical conflict on the part of any member of the Commission,” Bennett’s statement reads. “Conflict analysis is fact specific and, ultimately, is the responsibility of the individual Commission members. All Commission members must undertake due diligence and make a determination under Nevada’s conflict of interest laws.
“By every account, Commissioner Alonso is a person of integrity and, as members of the Commission have done historically, members will continue to do everything in their power to avoid any appearance of impropriety and to avoid conflicts by publicly disclosing material issues and, where an actual conflict exists, by abstaining from Commission votes. Such is critical to maintaining the gold standard of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.”
The next UFC, UFC 208, will be taking place in New York and the next time the promotion holds an event in Las Vegas will be UFC 209 this March.