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The Brief But Destructive Wake of Praetorian Fighting Championships

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WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

Before becoming a promoter, Martinez actually fought once as an amateur here in Chicago. He fought at Mayhem Promotions: Disorderly Conduct III in July 2009. We were there that night; Martinez probably wishes he wasn’t. He was treated to a nasty beating by Hackney’s Combat’s Edgar Torres (VIDEO).

Martinez may have decided that fighting was not for him after that night. To our knowledge, he never fought again. But he wasn’t done with the local MMA scene.

Alex Martinez and "Puck Bunnies"Martinez is the owner and general manager of the Chicago Bulldogs, an inline hockey team. He’s also the goalie for the team. You can tell from the team’s Facebook page that Martinez badly wants to be someone in the sports scene. The page has pictures of him with ‘Puck Bunnies,’ the hockey equivalent of ring girls (left), him trying to mix it up with an opposing player, and lots and lots of pictures of women, mostly Melanie Tillbrook, who also served as a ring girl for Praetorian. It serves as sort of an online shrine to him, a place where he can be king.

Martinez used the Bulldogs to get back into the MMA game by sponsoring fighters. Efrain Escudero was sponsored by the Bulldogs, according to their Facebook page,  and Martinez also sponsored local fighter Felice Herrig and Michele Gutierrez, who shared the same management — Suckerpunch Entertainment.

STALKER-SHIPS?

“Piece of shit.” That’s how Brian Butler-Au remembers Martinez, the first words that pop into his mind to describe him. Butler-Au is the managing partner at Suckerpunch, and he represented both Gutierrez and Herrig when Martinez made a play to sponsor the fighters. He said Martinez was unprofessional from the beginning and the relationship ended horribly. It also ended without payment to the fighters, a business method that Martinez carried over to Praetorian.

“He immediately started trying to contact my fighters directly which is something I typically don’t allow, especially with my female fighters, because often the conversations go beyond business which makes my clients uncomfortable,” Butler-Au recalled. “He reached out to Michele first and the big mistake there was that Michele entertained his texts which made Martinez feel comfortable. He also reached out to Felice several times, but she shut him down every time and directed him to communicate with me.”

Since Martinez had an in with Gutierrez, he tried to take advantage of it and get close to her. It was not only creepy but entirely inappropriate for what was supposed to be a business relationship.

“He continued to communicate with Michele via texts, often late at night and made many inappropriate comments and suggestions to her despite him being married.  He resented Felice for shutting down his advances and began bad mouthing her to Michele. Meanwhile, months had passed and I had not received a single payment from him for either girl. He would make every excuse in the book as to why it was late and say that it was on its way,” Butler-Au said.

This is another technique that Martinez would use early and often in business dealings with Praetorian: string people along, make excuses when they inquire about payment and then promise that they’d have their money soon. Rarely does it arrive. Unfortunately, Butler-Au and his fighters were the first to experience it.

Michele Gutierrez after XFO 39“Finally I found out that he had sent a couple payments directly to Michele. When I confronted him he basically went MIA and started his slander on me and Felice on his Chicago Bulldogs Facebook page.” Those posts are gone now, but there are several Bulldogs posts that talk about Gutierrez, including a few asking Bulldogs fans to contact the state commission to have Gutierrez’s loss to Amanda LaVoy at XFO 39 overturned. Gutierrez was trying to get the loss overturned because LaVoy grabbed her hair to get a clinch and deliver a knee that cut her open (right), eventually stopping the fight.

That was also posted on the Bulldogs’ official website, with Martinez coming out in defense of Gutierrez.

“Mixed Martial Arts is a very tough sport. Ted Markos and Alex Martinez of the Bulldogs who are veterans of the sport can attest to that fact. What makes it harder for Michele Gutierrez is that she is not only a woman trying to make it in a so-called man’s sport, but she is also a single mother.” This gave Martinez another chance to drop his own name, something he was fond of doing. Anyone with eyes or ears knows MMA is a ‘tough sport,’ and you’re certainly not a ‘veteran’ of the sport after one fight.

Butler-Au was repelled by Martinez’s actions, and he said he quickly figured out what type of guy he was dealing with.

“He was so overboard with his comments and unprofessionalism that it seemed almost comical he would post some of the things he did on a ‘business page.’ He then started his own MMA management company and started trying to solicit my fighters. This guy was and is a total idiot. He would try and sponsor pretty women and feature them as ‘Puck Bunnys’ on his Bulldogs page. He is a perverted sexual stalker and used his business and fake sponsorship to try and get close to women. If his wife knew about some of the things he was texting Michele and Felice she would have his nuts in a jar. He’s a con man and I view him as a criminal. I never received a single payment from him.”
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About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is a former TV producer who turned to new media in 2005, and he is the co-founder and editor of Chicago's MMA. He is also the play-by-play announcer for the XFO. His work has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided and more.

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