Ian Freeman is a free man.
The Newcastle Crown Court sentenced the six-time UFC veteran to a suspended nine-month jail term on March 3 for failing to declare income earned from professional fights he competed in and other fight-related employment between 2003-2006.
Judge Brian Forster sentenced Freeman to a one-year probation, 120 hours of community service and an 8:30 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew for six weeks.
Freeman, 42, had previously pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion and another for making a false income statement to obtain a house mortgage. The father of three and his wife, Angela, also pleaded guilty to three joint counts of making fraudulent claims for tax credits between January 2003 and July 2006.
The Sunderland, England native’s wife had previously been issued a suspended sentence.
“I've never held a full-time job,” Freeman wrote in a previous email to Sherdog.com. “All I've known is doorman work or fighting and I last worked the doors over 10 years ago. From 2003 to the end of 2004, I fought in the UK and when I received my purse money I automatically accepted it was all mine. The government do not tax you like the USA. You have to pay the taxman yourself in England. So due to ignorance of the law, I never paid taxes.”
Freeman stated that he paid his taxes from 2006 on when he became self-employed.
At his sentencing, Freeman’s attorney presented 90 affidavits to the court attesting to the fighter’s numerous charitable efforts in the community. One reference detailed the fighter’s efforts to raise funds for a playground built in memory of a four-year-old girl that had been killed in a traffic accident.
Freeman, who lost his father to brain cancer the night before his July 2002 victory over Frank Mir at UFC 38, was also cited for raising the funds to send a terminally-ill 10-year-old boy to Florida with his family for his final “dream vacation.”
Freeman believes his charity work swayed the court in its leniency.
“I believe in Karma, what goes around, comes around,” Freeman wrote in an email to Sherdog.com on Tuesday. “The judge could see how much I have helped those not as fortunate as me. The judge also commended me on my charity work I have done.”
Freeman (19-7-1) retired from active competition in 2005, but returned a year later for three fights with Cage Rage in London. Freeman was also hired as a coach for a UK squad in the International Fight League, but the promotion went under before his team could debut. Freeman last competed for the UK’s Cage Rage in May 2008, earning a unanimous decision over Paul Cahoon in a light heavyweight championship bout.
“I now want to put this all behind me," wrote Freeman, "and I hope others, like the judge, can see I'm not a bad man or a criminal, just a man who knows nothing about paying taxes and bookkeeping."