UFC Entangled in Class-Action Lawsuit with $1.6B Damages on the Line

Nearly 1,200 fighters were granted "class" status on Wednesday, turning their antitrust lawsuit against the Las Vegas-based promotion into a class action lawsuit

Courtesy of @UFCNews on Twitter

An antitrust lawsuit filed against the UFC and its parent company, Zuffa LLC, has seen significant movement for the first time in three years.

Federal judge Richard F. Boulware granted the plaintiffs class certification per a document from the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. This means the case, which was initially filed in 2014, will now move forward as a class action lawsuit. Nearly 1,200 fighters “who competed in one or more live professional UFC-promoted bouts taking place or broadcast in the United States from December 16, 2010 to June 30, 2017” are represented in the suit. That includes former MMA notables Cung Le, Nate Quarry, Jon Fitch, and many more.

The lawsuit alleges that the UFC used “improper strategies” to form a monopsony on the MMA market and, as a result, paid athletes significantly less than they should have.

“Thrilled to announce that the court in the UFC case has certified the class of MMA fighters,” one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Eric Cramer, wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “We look forward to demonstrating our allegations that the UFC has abused its market power to suppress fighter pay before a jury in Las Vegas. The fight for fighter justice continues!”

A UFC Representative has Confirmed that the Promotion Intends to Appeal the Decision

The UFC intends to appeal the decision, the promotion confirmed in a statement from its lead counsel, William A. Isaacson.

“We have anticipated this decision, and as we have previously communicated to Judge Boulware, we plan to appeal,” said Isaacson, a partner with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. “This is just one step in a long legal process, and we are confident that the Court will ultimately recognize that the claims outlined in this lawsuit are legally and factually meritless.

“UFC’s own continued growth accompanied by the growth of other established MMA promoters and the prevalence of successful new market entrants all demonstrate the existence of a healthy and competitive MMA market which benefits athletes, promoters, and fans alike.”

The class of fighters is currently seeking damages in the area of $800 million to $1.6 billion. It should be noted that U.S Antitrust laws permit private plaintiffs to recover up to three times the damages. This means the UFC could be on the hook for several billion dollars and could potentially lead to massive changes when it comes to fighter compensation in combat sports. 

Transcription by ESPN

Published on August 10, 2023 at 6:58 pm
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