By now the accusations against MMA manager Brett Atchley have been widely reported. One of the first to step up and make her claims public was amateur fighter Alyssa Vasquez. She went very in-depth on the PRO WMMA Now radio show hosted by Gina Begley and Emily Bartee. Also going public was Sarah Maloy. As I had interviews scheduled with both fighters I decided to combine them into one post. First you will read my interview with Alyssa and after hers wraps up you will then read my interview with Sarah.
Q: You were on the Pro WMMA Now radio show last night and you said your first interaction with Brett Atchley was after you spoken about Fallon Fox and had clicked like on his status and he contacted you. What was the basis of his what he was saying?
A: Initially he reached out to me to my understanding, was to make sure there was no bad blood between myself or him as Fallon's manager.
Q: Had you ever had any interaction with him before that?
A: No sir. None at all.
Q: After that he kept trying to communicate with you correct?
A: Yes sir. As a matter of fact, that same instance where he had wrote me after I liked the status, instantaneously he shot me a message with his phone number. I was assuming he didn't like the back and forth Facebook message thing and he sent me his number and said "when you get a chance to talk I would like it if you could give me a call." I sent a text and said "here is my number, call when you are free."
Q: From those first interactions did he come across as a good guy? Was there any hesitation talking to him?
A: Not in those first conversations. My initial reaction was he was a boisterous and cocky figurehead, which wasn't a bad thing considering his job. Just a typical cocky manager thing.
Q: That led to him asking you to go for a beer at Invicta correct?
A: Yes sir. He said he had known about me for quite some time and he thought I seemed like a cool chick and he would like to get to know me. Not like wanting to date, but just as a person. I had mentioned I was going to Invicta and he said we should get a beer together.
Q: Was there any part of you who saw this as with him managing so many girls, that it could be good for your career to be friendly with him?
A: Initially I thought it was just a friendly conversation, but then during the talk he went out of his way to tell me what he thought of me as a fighter and my game and the holes in my game and if I fixed these things he would be interested in managing me. That is when it was like "hey that's cool", it was that moment where it was "wow, I'm a real fighter" kind of thing.
Q: Then you met him at Invicta, can you share what happened?
A: Initially I got to Invicta and he was shooting texts asking if I had arrived and I told him I had and was watching the fights. He doesn't know this and I told one or two people before and I didn't say it on the radio last night, and he doesn't know that I know, but the entire time he was texting me, he was standing right next to me. It is more troubling now considering people have mentioned he had fighters on the card and he was spending the majority of the night texting and watching me text him back. I thought it was weird at the time but I didn't want to let him know that I knew he was watching me so I played along and acted as if I thought he was in the back with his fighters. Right before intermission he asked if I wanted to grab the beer and I said sure. When intermission started I waited till he left cause I didn't want to lock eyes. He shot me a text telling me to grab the beer. I walked out to that area, like walkway and we went to a local restaurant and ordered a beer. Soon as we sat down, he grabbed his stool and pulled it right up next to me. For lack of a better term he was in my face. It was uncomfortable but not enough to say "get away from me guy." Initially the conversation is all about what he is dealing with and clients and fights his fighters have lost, and what is going on with Fallon and Tito Ortiz. He just stopped and said "you are real cute, I think you are awesome, you are a cool chick." No matter who it is, I get real uncomfortable when people give me compliments so when he was saying that I was like "shut up, you're crazy", just playing it off. It kept going and I knew intermission was over and I was missing fights, I missed Bec Hyatt's fight. I was trying to wrap it up and I think he got the hint. I went to pay for the beer and he said he had it and I thanked him. We went to hug and part ways and when we hugged he went in and kissed my neck. Soon as he did that, we pulled apart and he kissed me on the lips. Any normal person should have pushed him off, and I didn't, I just ended it and pushed back and wrapped it up. Soon as it ended, I could tell he was flustered and almost embarrassed.
Q: After that, he was still trying to get you to the after part correct?
A: Yes sir.
Q: At that point are you wondering if you maybe gave him a wrong signal?
A: I felt that I had let it get out of control. It is like an internal thing where anyone would have to question themselves at that time. You wonder "what did I do to make him think that was appropriate." I would have loved to do the after part thing because all of my idols in the fight game would be there, but I had to call it a loss. I didn't wanna go knowing he would be there. I could foresee bad things happening and him being all over me. I didn't want to feed into this feeling I assumed he was having. I didn't want o offend him but he needed to know these feelings were not mutual.
Q: Are you scared at that point if you do offend him, it could hurt your career?
A: Very much so. That is why I had kept a good relationship with him the whole time. It wasn't that I felt if I was friends with him that I would get something out of it. I never wanted to be managed by him because I could tell he was a sloppy individual and could tell he had a problem with alcohol. What I did want was to not have any problems or to get on his bad side. That was one thing I was afraid of, by the way he spoke about the power he had and these friends in high places who would screw over fighters on his behalf. I never wanted anything from him, I didn't want to be in a bad situation and screw myself over before my fighting career got started.
Q: So after that Invicta you were still being friendly with him correct?
A: Yes sir. We didn't really have any actual phone conversations. he would shoot me a text out of nowhere. It would usually be following a dramatic Facebook post of his. He would text me out of nowhere and I would say "Is everything alright, I noticed you seemed kinda pissed." From there he would vent about whatever was going on in his business dealings. That was the extent of it, a text here or there until he did call approximately two weeks ago.
Q: What was said in that call?
A: He was spilling his guts about something happening with him and a very young client of his. He was being sued for something along the lines of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior. His stance was that this person was a horrible client and he sent her two thousand dollars of sponsor money and she blew three it, refused to get medicals prior to Invicta 4 and he had to jump through hoops to take care of it. He was getting ready to drop her and she caught wind of it so her and a famous training partner of hers decided to make up this big bullshit story to get him in trouble. He was telling me all that and said Shannon Knapp called and asked what was going on and he told her it was bullshit and Shannon said "you don't have to say another word, I got you." Next thing he knows he gets notification from the former clients lawyer saying "we are sorry Mr. Atchley, we are dropping everything." Making it seem like Shannon wrapped it up in a pretty little bow. He also said how he lost Jessamyn Duke and negative things about her mother and I know for a fact her mother is a very loving and supportive woman. He painted her as a monster. After that, he brought up Invicta and apologized and said he knew I wasn't looking for anything like that. Then right after that he jumped on Facebook and shot me a message that said "I love you." I didn't respond and he sent another that said "I love you" and it had an exclamation mark. I responded with "you are gonna regret that one in the morning" and he sent another that said "why don't we just fuck." At that point my jaw dropped. I tried to defuse it and told him "I would give anything to see your face when you read that one in the morning." In my mind he would read it and see he was running his mouth and would stop but that is not what happens with Brett. He wrote another that said "I guess I am all in" with a wink emoticon. You know how you can read a Facebook message without opening it? I read he wrote it and left it there and didn't open it till a couple days ago. I think he realized he overstepped his bounds.
Q: Did you plan to keep it to yourself or did you know that at some point you would have to say something?
A: I wanted to keep it to myself. I assumed this was a one time only thing, that he was like this to me but not other fighters. I wasn't gonna say anything. After that "why don't we fuck?" message, that really fired me up, I felt insulted and disrespected. That coupled with the fact that his conversation telling me the names of fighters I knew he had lost their contracts were honorable stand-up people. So I figured I would throw something out there, dig around, not a witch hunt, just needed to know what I was dealing with. Then I felt obligated so say something for others who may fall in his path.
Q: Tara LaRosa finally named him. Does someone with her name value being willing to speak make you feel more comfortable talking about it?
A: Very much so. It is a normal reaction, anybody would look at a nobody and it doesn't substantiate the claims when no one knows who the person is. My story, you can read it and read it a hundred different ways. My story coupled with what she wrote and her interview with you and others, it is powerful. For anyone who is teetering, wants the courage to say something, her and Jessamyn, that is power.
Q: Janet Martin wrote something on Facebook and mentioned you and showed support, how does that make you feel?
A: Relieved and thankful. It is an honor to share the same sport with these people. To be afraid of how the public will view you and be received by people I have so much respect for. There is no other way to describe it other than phenomenal.
Q: Brett has said none of it is true, when you read him say people are lying, does it upset you or do you even care?
A: I guess the answer is no and no. In my mind there is no back and forth. I have laid everything out truthfully even if it made me look like an idiot. You cant compete when it is truth you are battling. I think the best thing is to fall on your sword and accept that is is fundamentally screwed up at this time. The only thing that would upset me is if he makes personal digs at people. It is a barking dog that is cornered right now.
Q: Anything you want to add?
A: Just along the lines of what I said on Gina's show. I really appreciate you and her and everyone that is willing to push this out there. Everyone who built this behind the scenes, it was a long time coming, even if people think this is new, it was brewing a long time.
Q: Share your story of what happened with Brett, it sounded like he tried to get touchy-feely for lack of a better term?
A: Yeah, his appearance seemed pretty intoxicated. He was really handsy. I am thirty years old, it's nothing I haven't experienced, in college I bartended and have been in that kind of situation before. All you have to do is be a little stern and it will go away and if it doesn't you just go to the other side of the room.
Q: So he did seem intoxicated?
A: Oh yeah!
Q: can you describe what he did?
A: A little too in my comfort zone, in my area. Hands on the hips kind of thing. He didn't touch any of my private parts but a little too handsy, too close for comfort.
Q: And I assume you just said no and pushed him away?
A: My Sensei teaches you how to get people to move where you want them to move. I adjusted my stance and got further and further away without having to say "stop, leave me alone." Really kind of "I gotta go" and moved away from him.
Q: Did he seem to get the point?
A: I did it subtle enough that there wasn't really a point to get. Just got my distance and kind of got away from him. Being intoxicated you are not gonna realize someone is nervously trying to get away from you.
Q: Have you ever had any interaction with him before this?
A: No, I had never met him in person before the Invicta event.
Q: After that, was there any contact with him?
A: No! I am real fortunate to have an awesome manager. He was talking to me about managing me and the contract situation. I let him know I have an awesome manager who does everything I need him to do. That is when he did the whole "I don't have to be your manager to get you a three fight contract" thing.
Q: Some people have said he would blackball them, did you have fear of that?
A: To be honest, I did. He made sure you got the point that there wasn't gonna be an Invicta contract unless it was through him. It was very subtle, but he got his point across. Initially I didn't think he had any clout, but I fought on the first Invicta and haven't since so there was always that worry there. But I am pretty close to Janet and I don't think he had anything to do with that. My weight class is one that has been a little slower to build. There has been few fights in my class and I know when they are ready to sue me, I will be back in there. But it is hard not to have that in the back of your head. That is why I fought two boxing matches, I was struggling to get fights. It is hard to get big show fights and small shows want local girls. It was either do something other than MMA or be completely inactive.
Q: There had been rumors for some time, had you heard any yourself and if you had, did it make you think what he said was true?
A: I hadn't heard any sexual harassment type rumors. I had heard things about him not doing everything he could as a manager and possible financial shadiness. From the first time Shannon said something about a manager saying "you cant get a contract without me", I knew it was him. I experienced it. He had said that to me before Shannon said her first warning. I was kinda shocked and kinda not shocked about the sexual side of it. I cut it off as fast as it started, I nipped it in the bud and got out of there.
Q: Did you at first tell anyone?
A: No, I didn't even tell my husband the whole story. At the time, I was annoyed and a little offended, but he was managing high caliber fighters. I had an awesome manager, but it was flattering. I didn't know that he was doing all this.
Q: Why did you decide to go ahead and talk now?
A: I saw something where someone said that a couple people coming out can be dismissed. I knew what he did to me and I knew it was really wrong. If someone isn't held accountable for their actions that it will escalate. I worried that if only two came out that nothing would be done so I decided to tell my story, as small as it was so that other girls would come out as well. There is not much backlash for me, he is not my manager or in charge of my fights so I have the least at risk and hopefully that will help.
Q: You are a pro, people know you, they know Tara and Jessamyn, do you hope names like you coming out will encourage others who aren't as well known?
A: I have a fight career and things to fall back on. I know how it feels to be coming up as a fighter and wanting to make a name and not want to make the wrong people mad. Dealing with promoters and sponsors, you walk on eggshells and don't want to mess up. Let girls in that position know that this is not o.k. and the women's MMA community will take care of it and will be behind you. You don't have to keep this under wraps, no one should treat you this way. You can talk about it.
Q: With Shannon coming out give you motivation that you can talk without backlash?
A: If I knew it was that widespread, I would have talked regardless. I am very thankful Janet and Shannon and Sam were outspoken and supported the girls it happened to. Girls don't have to be scared to tell the truth. It is awesome they did that.
Q: Anything about this you want to add?
A: I just want the truth of the situation to come out. It is o.k. to talk about it. You cant get punished for telling the truth.
Q: You were injured in your last boxing match, how are you doing?
A: I am really good. My therapist is pleased with my progress. It isn't fast to me, but fast for all the damage that was in my arm and shoulder. Last Wednesday he gave me four weeks maximum till I am a hundred percent and maybe faster than that. I am doing lots of exercises have full motion except struggling to the back. It is getting better.
Q: I also want to mention a certain sixteen year old girl who had a big accomplishment recently, can you talk about that?
A: That would be Jussely Canada. She qualified for World's at the U.S. team trials in Pankration. We had two girls qualify. Jussely competed down a weight class cause there were no girls in her class but she also competed up four classes. The girl who beat her had her bu forty pounds. We are super proud of her. Since it is in Croatia and not Canada, we are gonna forgo World's and use the money to compete in the U.S. I promised her a trip to train with Liz Carmouche at Team Hurricane Awesome.