After several days of confusion and uncertainty, multiple mainstream news outlets confirmed that former UFC and PRIDE fighter Phil Baroni had been arrested in Mexico for allegedly murdering his girlfriend. The New York Post, CBS News, and The Associated Press verified verified MMA Mania’s initial report sourced from Tribuna De La Bahia.
According to police documents, Baroni does not deny that he killed his partner, whose full name has still not been released. However, he claims her death was an accident after he threw her into a shower during an argument over infidelity.
Baroni says the woman hit her head when he threw her, and then hit her head again as she fell to the ground. He says he helped her to their hotel bed and then went to get beer and cigarettes. When he returned she was unconscious. He flagged down police, who found the victim with “multiple signs of beatings” and “no vital signs.”
New info from ESPN Desportes reporter Carlos Contreras Legaspi shares an update on Baroni, who has been moved from a temporary jail cell into the notoriously violent CERESO Estatal No. 3 prison where 19 people died during a prison break last week. He faces a 30 to 50 year sentence for murder.
“UPDATE on the Phil Baroni case,” Legaspi wrote on Twitter. “The former Pride/SF/UFC fighter has been transported to Tepic, capital of Nayarit, where he is now in a State Prison (CERESO). His hearing will be on Monday where a judge will determine his legal status. If guilty, sentence goes from 30-50 years.”
Legaspi clarified in another tweet that the judge will be determining if the evidence in the case meets the standard for a murder trial, which would take place later on.
One piece of evidence that won’t play well for Baroni is photos taken by the police of his hands outside his hotel room. His right hand appears red and swollen along his knuckles.
Phil Baroni is an experienced journeyman of combat sports and has fought for nearly every major MMA organization over his 20 year career. Following his semi-retirement from the sport in 2014, “The New York Bad Ass” made a switch to pro wrestling, joining a tag team with UFC pioneer Stephan Bonnar. While the team showed potential, Baroni’s erratic behavior soon derailed the new career.
Former UFC champion and pro wrestler Josh Barnett believes the behavior he witnessed in Baroni over recent years was a result of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) suffered from fighting.
“I’ve seen the decline from the man I have been friends with for so long to where he was last I saw him, and it’s heartbreaking,” Barnett wrote. “Now with what has happened in Mexico it’s just so awful.”