Bad Blood: The full story behind Aaron Rajman and Sky Moiseichik’s upcoming grudge match
South Florida’s MMA community has a legitimate grudge match on its hands. The increasingly contentious public feud between mixed martial artists Aaaron Rajman and Sky Moiseichik—two former friends, roommates and business partners—has reached a boiling point deemed by both men as unsolvable through peaceful or litigious means and they’ve agreed to settle their differences the oldest way in history: through physical combat.
The two met while constructing the cage for a Fight Time Promotions event in late 2011/early 2012. Rajman, then a 19-year-old undefeated amateur, was looking to keep busy while recuperating from an injury. Moiseichik, at the time a 33-year-old pro fighter, hadn’t fought professionally since 2008. They were at similar crossroads in their lives. Both wanted to stay close to the sport but at the time were unable to compete. After some discussion, they came up with a solution: start their own amateur MMA organization, American Battle Championships.
“Sky definitely worked hand-in-hand with me 100 percent,” said Rajman when asked how their promotion got off the ground. “What happened was, after that first event that he flew in from Puerto Rico [for], he stayed [at] my house for the week and then actually stayed [with] me for a year. He had an issue with his girlfriend, didn’t have a place to stay and my family allowed him to stay for over a year.”
Rajman gave his own room to Moiseichik, opting to share a room with his brother. Moiseichik claims he paid rent the entire time he was there. Rajman says he didn’t pay anything.
When asked why he’d let a non-blood relative stay under his roof rent-free for an entire year, Rajman said, “I don’t know. I’m soft, man. I’m too nice sometimes.”
Documentation filed on January 14, 2013 on SunBiz.org for American Battle Championships LLC lists Rajman’s residence as the business address for the company, whose status is currently “INACTIVE.” It lists Moiseichik as the primary registered agent, with him, Rajman, Moiseichik’s mother, Merry (“added on fraudulently” – Rajman), and Sam Jones (“Sky’s buddy” – Rajman) listed as authorized managers of the company. Ownership of ABC’s trademark, one of the main areas of dispute between the two men, is currently listed under Rajman’s name and has been since April 23, 2013.
“When we started the company, the funding had been done through a friend of mine, [name redacted upon Rajman’s request], and he was the owner of the trademark,” explained Rajman. “He was the one who funded it and for the first show, Sky worked on the card here and there from Puerto Rico but didn’t stay here for the event. He came in about a week before the event and—anyway, when we started the company, it was under [redacted]. It was pretty much his money.”
This is where things become muddied. Moiseichik asserts that yes, Rajman does indeed hold the registered trademark title, however registering a trademark takes a back seat, legally, to first use of said trademark. He argues that, since he and Rajman began the company together, the trademark filing doesn’t overwrite his stake in a company he was never officially bought out of. Furthermore, he claims that he not only financed the first several ABC shows himself, he paid the artist who designed the promotion’s logo—something he says only goes to solidify his argument.
“That’s the rule: the ownership of a mark goes to the first use, not the first to file,” said Moiseichik. “So he was the first to file, but I was the first use. He’s gone with, ‘Well, I registered it.’ He did register it, but he didn’t use it first. I was using it first. He goes and says that the name was his and it absolutely wasn’t. By his own admission, we started the company together, which means the intellectual rights of the company should be to the company, not the person who wanted to take it.
“We spent between five and six thousand dollars on the average ABC show and I was financing that completely. The only one I didn’t finance was the last one and that was something that I wasn’t working on and I wasn’t taking money from.
“He went and trademarked the logo, but the logo was designed by another fighter named [redacted]. She was the original designer of the logo. He promised to pay her for that logo and never paid her for the logo. I paid her for the logo, so I’m the owner of the logo because, even if you register it, if you don’t pay the artist who made it, it’s owned by the artist. The artist sold it to me, personally.”
Thus far, none of these arguments seem tumultuous enough to cross over into necessary violence. After all, disputes like this are settled every day in court. However, this is where matters move from professional to personal.
“Finally, we’re doing shows at Renegades in West Palm Beach,” said Rajman. “We finish one of the shows and my family comes—they work at the events; they do the door… my sister and my mother worked very hard at all of our events that we did together—and he was very, very, very rude to them and refused to apologize until we pretty much said, ‘Hey, that’s cool and all. You don’t want to apologize and you want to be rude to my family, that’s okay, but then you can’t live here also. You’ve got to either be polite to them or get the fuck up out of here’ and we told him he had to leave.
“So he did; he moved back to Puerto Rico and he stopped working on the events. I ran multiple shows—about five shows—by myself at The Venue Ft. Lauderdale and all the fighters, of course, remember being at the shows and being like, ‘Hey, where’s Sky?’ and I told them, ‘Sky didn’t want to come to the show.’ And throughout this whole time, he’s saying to me, ‘Hey man, you really have to pay me $400-$500 if you’re going to do the show.’ I was like, ‘Well, I came up with the name, ABC. I started the company with [redacted]. You’re not working on the show now. The main thing is, you’re not working. If you were working, I’d give you money if there’s money to be made, but you’re not working so you can’t ask me for money. You don’t own anything.”
While Moiseichik stayed in Puerto Rico, Rajman continued to promote fights and both men returned to MMA competition. During this time, according to Rajman, Moiseichik demanded $500 per show for the events Rajman held under the ABC name, even though he did not provide any promotional, managerial or organizational duties. Rajman responded by changing the passwords on all of their social media accounts.
“I finally said to him, ‘Look, I’m going to lock you out of everything.’ So I locked him out of everything, of course. He had the password [to the website] anyway, and that’s why he has FightABC.com,” Rajman said.
Moiseichik eventually returned to South Florida and decided to go retrieve the belongings he’d left at Rajman’s residence. He did not call ahead before arriving. Upon getting to the house, he was told by the family that they did not feel comfortable letting him go into Rajman’s room while he wasn’t home. Moiseichik persisted and things turned violent.
“He broke into my house and put his hands on my family when they refused to let him in to take his belongings,” said Rajman. “He forced his way in and put his hands on my family. There are police records of his blood being all over my house. I got there 10 minutes late. I got there 10 minutes… it would’ve been bad.”
Moiseichik’s recollection of what occurred, at least in regard to his intent, is comparatively innocuous.
“I was actually hoping to avoid any conflict and just go in and get my stuff,” he said. “I didn’t go in there to cause a problem. I got there, I was allowed into the house and I was told I wasn’t allowed to get my stuff. I said it was all stuff that I could prove was mine because it was pretty much worthless to anybody else but stuff that was important to me.”
Conditions were heating up professionally as well. Moiseichik, now in South Florida more consistently, was looking to get back into promoting fights. But, according to sources, he’d announce a show, line up fighters, set weight limits they had to reach and, at the very last minute, pull the plug on the entire event. After multiple instances of this occurring, he developed a reputation for being unreliable. Last month, Moiseichik successfully pulled of his first show since separating with Rajman: Absolute Battle Championship, with the help of the aforementioned Sam Jones. (Note: not only are the initials the same—ABC—but promotional materials for the event sent people to FightABC.com, the domain once used jointly by Moiseichik and Rajman.) Sanctioned as a traditional martial arts tournament, the Sanshou and pankration hybrid event was unique in that it allowed for professional and amateur martial artists to compete against one another. Also, because of that regulatory distinction, Moiseichik was not legally required to provide fighters with insurance or medical services.
“He’s only done one [show on his own since we separated],” said Rajman. “He’s planned and announced about 10, but then what happens is he ends up cancelling the card, calling Daniel Kay, who works on Xtreme Fight Night, who I’m holding an event with in Boca Raton in FAU on April 12th—it’ll be Daniel Kay’s show—and he calls Daniel Kay and says, ‘Hey look, I have a fight card full of fighters and no event. Can I give you some of my fighters?’ And [Kay]’s like, ‘Bro, no you can’t, because my fight card’s already full.’ So then all the fighters keep calling me saying, ‘Hey, what happened to the event?’ This happened maybe five, six times over the last year. Now he did one event with no doctor, no insurance, no sanctioning body, no ambulance and guys were getting TKOed and dropped on the floor and there’s been a complaint put into the state by the guys who were overseeing the show that he was trying to do full-contact and everything—whatever… he did a very dangerous event. He finally did an event and it was very dangerous. I’m glad nobody got really hurt.”
Moiseichik says that, while what Rajman says about lax precautionary measures is indeed true, the blame for his cancelled shows belongs to his former business partner.
“I have no problem letting everybody know that the Absolute Battle’s pankration tournaments are a traditional martial arts tournament, the same way NAGA is a tournament, the same way Tae Kwon Do has tournaments, the same way Sanshou has tournaments,” he said. “They were done on a mat, all the strikes were controlled, all of the pankration allowed for no strikes to the head… It was a very safe event. We did keep an insurance policy but we did not keep the fighter insurance that you would keep on an MMA event. All of the fighter knew this and signed waivers. All of them knew what they were getting into in the same way, if you were going into a NAGA tournament, you would know what you were getting into. They knew there wasn’t going to be a doctor or paramedics there. We did have an EMT on site just in case, but none of that is required.
“He was calling the [Florida State Boxing Commission] about my show on a daily basis trying to shut down my show. The shows before—he talks about me cancelling shows—I had to cancel shows because [Xtreme Fight Night] and his buddy Daniel Kay went and threw shows on top of my dates and paid fighters to leave my card and fight on his.”
Rajman, responding sternly, refuted those allegations outright by pointing out the fact that there is an incongruity in regard to event numbers. Plainly put: how could he and Kay have undercut all of Moiseichik’s events if they’ve only held three XFN events to date?
“If that’s why he cancelled six events, because we were paying cash money to all of the fighters—I don’t know how we made money on an amateur show by paying all the fighters—but if he thinks that’s why, because we paid all the local fighters to come and fight on our card instead and that caused him to cancel six events, even though XFN has only done three events… does that make any sense?” he said.
At roughly 9 p.m. on Saturday, February 28, Rajman took to Facebook to publicly answer a call-out from Moiseichik, suggesting they face one another at Mixed Striking Championship, a new organization that forgoes a large majority of MMA’s grappling elements in favor of a strikes-only competition. Rajman offered up an additional stipulation: the winner walks away with all the rights to ABC, no strings attached.
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According to MSC partner and matchmaker Dave “Zeus” Zalewski, both men were chomping at the proverbial bit when he approached them individually about competing on the card.
“When starting the matchmaking, I contacted Aaron about fighting someone and he jumped on it,” said Zalewski. “Soon after, I was in contact with Sky. He asked to fight. I laughed and told him Aaron’s on the card and Sky said he wanted to fight him but that Aaron would never accept. I reached out to Aaron and he jumped at the matchup. I told Sky that Aaron accepted and was excited, and he said to ask Aaron to go to an event Sky was hosting that weekend and fight him there first. At that point I knew we had a ‘bad blood’ fight on our hands.”
As Rajman tells it, things aren’t as cut and dry, and that weight, pay, sponsorship, transportation and room and board were all issues Moiseichik demanded be addressed before he signed a contract.
“He’s asking me to pay him money to fight. He’s asking me to raise sponsors for him. He’s asking to get paid way more than I’m getting paid, which makes no sense because I’m going to sell 40-50 tickets and he’s not going to sell any,” he said. “I don’t know where he gets… first he says he wants to fight and I said yes. Then he didn’t respond for a week. Finally he responds and he says, ‘I want a plane ticket and I want a hotel.’ Fine. He says, ‘Oh, I want a pay raise.’ Okay, fine. He says, ‘Oh, what else do I want… I want to change the weight class.’ So now he’s hopefully going to sign. Hopefully he’ll run out of reasons, we’ll blast it all over the media and he’ll be the bitch of the MMA community if he really backs out. That’s the only reason I’m talking smack, man; it’s because I want the fight. He’s made all these requests—all these ridiculous things that he wants—and it’s just like, ‘Why do you deserve that? Why do you deserve $1000 and $1000? Why do you deserve a plane ticket and a hotel room? You’re not selling any tickets. You’re not anyone special. Why? That’s not what I’m getting paid. I am selling 40 tickets.”
Moiseichik alleges that the compensation due to him encompasses more than just the fight itself.
“The guy has not left me alone since I quit doing ABC with him,” he said. “After I went and told him I would no longer be able to put my money and effort into something that wasn’t getting any return, I gave him a number of ways to work it out—one being to buy me out of the company and the other being to give me a percentage per show. I even gave him opportunities to have a payment plan to buy me out and he didn’t want to do any of it. Instead of being a man and starting his own company or going a separate way, what he decided to was try to steal the company from me.”
Even so, Moiseichik, when asked if he has any regrets about how things unraveled, is candid in his answer.
“I have a ton of regrets in the way things went down,” he said. “I loved Aaron Rajman. That was a guy that I was willing to do just about anything for and if he sincerely asked me to give him the company, instead of being the way he was in trying to force me to work for the company or just give it to him, then things may have been completely different.”
But, when asked if he was okay with fighting Rajman:
“I’m down,” he said. “I said yes to everything and he said yes to everything, so I think this fight’s 100 percent a go.”
Rajman, on the other hand, has nothing positive left to say about his former friend.
“At this point, all I want from the guy is for him to sign the contract. I don’t care if he says this is true or that’s not true. That’s not what I’m worried about. I want him to sign the contract and we should fight over ABC,” he said. “I know him personally, I’ve trained with him many times, I’ve whooped his ass many times and that’s the hope—to continue on that path. It’s a good fight for me. It’s a great opportunity to fight on MSC. He doesn’t want to grapple with me—he remembers what happens when he grapples with me—so maybe kickboxing will have some luck.”
(Slider image credit: http://skymoiseichi.wix.com)