Ex-UFC Standout Jon Fitch Details the Class Action Lawsuit Against the Promotion and Shady MMA Managers

Fitch, along with 1,200 other fighters, have filed a suit against the UFC, accusing the promotion of driving down fighter's wages by monopolizing the MMA market

Jon Fitch
Courtesy of @MMAJunkie on Twitter

The antitrust lawsuit pitting the UFC against 1,200 past and present fighters is beginning to heat up.

Filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada in 2014, the suit, which accuses the promotion of engaging in alleged unfair business practices, was given class certification in August, moving it from an antitrust suit to a class action suit.

One of the men leading the charge is former UFC welterweight title challenge Jon Fitch. Alongside other notables, including Cung Le, Fitch is arguing that the Las Vegas-based promotion established an illegal monopoly or monopsony by eliminating competitors in an effort to drive down fighters’ wages. 

If the UFC is found responsible for robbing thousands of fighters of a fair wage, the promotion could be on the hook for up to $1.6 billion. 

During a recent interview with Jimmy Smith on Unlocking the Cage, Jon Fitch spoke about the documents that will be unsealed as the class action lawsuit continues to move forward. Fitch revealed that many of the documents detail shady practices by mixed martial arts managers.

Unfortunately, many of those specific documents will remain sealed as they don’t pertain to the case. 

“There’s like 100,000 documents. There are so many documents that have been collected in discovery,” Fitch said. “A lot of the meat of dirty managers and dirty tricks behind the scenes are in there, but not all of those things were admitted into the court case. So the things that are going to be unsealed are only the documents and only the stuff that is specifically being used in the court case.

“So there’s a lot of managers that are dodging a bullet right now because there’s a lot of guys who can and should be sued for breaching that fiduciary responsibility for their athletes.”

Fitch added that many managers are more interested in getting into bed with the promotion, rather than doing what’s right for the athletes that they are paid to represent. 

“If they’re buddy-buddy with the promoter. If they hook the promoter up, do favors for the promoter, and screw over their athletes, they get more money and more opportunities from the promoter,” Fitch added. “The athlete has a short life span. He’ll get a new one. He’ll go somewhere else. He’ll retire. The manager will stay there and keep making money and keep screwing people over. 

“And it can go even deeper than that. Nate Quarry has a story about his manager not telling him about a fight that was offered. A title shot fight that was offered that would have paid him pretty well. And not even telling him and offering it to him so he could give it to one of his teammates because he wanted that guy to get the money instead of Nate.

“That’s a violation of your fiduciary responsibility. He screwed over one of his athletes to boost another and probably do something buddy-buddy for the promoter.”

Jon Fitch Wants to See a Structural Change in the Sport

For Jon Fitch, the most important thing is seeing fighters receive the pay he believes they are entitled to. Particularly those who put their body on the line for years and now have little to show for it. 

“I’ve been smart with my money over the years. I’m not in a bad position,” Fitch said. “It’s not my number one concern, but it is my number one because a lot of guys need those damages. They had a lot of money stolen from them and they’re not in a place that I am. They need to recover the money that was stolen from them.

“So that’s extremely important that those guys that are suffering, who didn’t get the money they should have gotten, didn’t get the respect they should have gotten, get paid out. That’s number one.”

Fitch also wants to see a structural change to the sport. The former World Series of Fighting champion called for the end of exclusive contracts, allowing fighters to compete for a championship under any banner.

“Number two is structural changes. I want… You’ve got to do one of two things in order to make it an actual sport,” Fitch continued. “You’ve got to get rid of exclusionary contracts that allow fighters to fight for any title, or you create an independent sanctioning body to host the title and then all promotions fight for those titles. That’s the only way to have a free and open market.”

Fitch also believes all MMA contracts should be no more than one year, allowing fighters more power to negotiate with other promotions as they rise through the ranks and/or develop a strong fan following. 


Published on August 28, 2023 at 5:53 pm
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