Jamie Levine, a notable figure from the sport’s earlier days, died on Tuesday of blood clot at 46-years old. The name may be unfamiliar to newer fans of the sport, but anyone around since the 1990′s will recognize him as the often controversial – and often reviled – promoter of the World Extreme Fighting promotion.
In a time when the UFC itself was struggling to survive, Levine’s WEF was a close number two in the industry, showcasing both UFC veterans and UFC stars in events that took place throughout the country. The WEF was where Din Thomas heelhooked Jens Pulver, where Marcus “Conan” Silveira got his revenge on Maurice Smith, and where Renato “Babalu” Sobral soccer-kicked Brad Kohler in the head (which, at the time, was the apex of sport’s brutality).
Rich Franklin, Matt Hughes, Pat Miletich – so many greats fought for the promotion, which held its last event in 2011 (for a total of 46 installments).
It was even rumored that before Zuffa bought the ailing UFC company, Levine was part of a pool of investors who were going to swoop in and save the organization.
But for all his contributions, Levine was plagued by a self-inflicted dark cloud of bad business dealings, and was accused of stiffing many, many fighters. He was even banned from promoting events in certain jurisdictions.
Regardless of whatever shady dealings he took part in, his contributions to the sport were immense. For that alone, his passing is both noteworthy and sad.