Several UFC employees and people involved in the mixed martial arts business were robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday night. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report the frightening occurrence.
On Friday, MMA manager Brian Butler-Au, told the story of what happened to TMZ Sports. Butler-Au, who represents the likes of UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway among many others, said he and others were hanging out across the street from the fighter hotel at an outdoor bar when gunmen approached the group and took their personal items, including phones, necklaces and wallets.
“I was talking with Dean [Klein], one of the guys that works at the UFC,” said Butler-Au, who is the founder and CEO of Sucker Punch Entertainment. “Everybody was just having a good time, talking, telling stories and just having a great time. This guy walked up beside me, he came up on my left side and I just looked over at him and then he just pulled out this hand gun that had an extended magazine on it and he just put it up in my face. And then he grabbed my phone.
“I was still trying to compute what was going on. While he grabbed my phone, [I saw] there were two other guys with him and another guy had a gun. I didn’t see the other guy with the gun because I was distracted by the one that was in my face. But they went around and they robbed everybody else at the table. It was like 10 of us.”
Butler-Au said one of the gunmen ripped a necklace right off the neck of UFC public relations staffer Lilian Caparroz. He said the men left quickly, ran across the street onto the median and jumped in a getaway car. When it was all over, the UFC personnel and others went across the street back to the hotel lobby.
“It was a scary situation,” Butler-Au said. “Like I said, glad that everybody is OK. Some people are shook up. I was a little shook up after it settled in. Like, ‘Whoa, that was really close.’ But everybody is very supportive. UFC has been very good, very supportive.”
Butler-Au, who is in town with client Brian Kelleher, who fights John Lineker, said those in Rio this week for UFC 224 were alerted about the dangers of crime. But the group was literally feet from the hotel when this all happened. On the video, Butler-Au was able to point to where they were sitting across the street from his hotel window.
“It’s pretty crazy, because we already got all the warnings about how it’s a little unstable over here and ‘stay by the hotel’ and all that stuff,” he said.