UFC’s Parent Company, TKO Group, Settles Antritrust Lawsuit Ahead of April 15 Trial Date, Will Pay $335 Million

TKO is set to pay $335 million to UFC fighters in installments over a period of time as part of the settlement

TKO Group Holdings
Courtesy of New York Stock Exchange on YouTube

TKO Group Holdings, the parent company of the UFC, will pay $335 million to settle a decade-old antitrust lawsuit brought forth by a slew of former and current fighters. 

Initially kickstarted in 2014 as five different suits that were eventually combined into one, the antitrust suit alleged that the UFC had abused its monopoly power to limit fighters’ pay. In August, the suit was given class certification with 1,200 fighters — past and present — all looking for a piece of the pie that the UFC had denied them over the years. Initially, the UFC was facing damages in the range of $800 million to $1.6 billion before the two parties reached the $335 million settlement on March 13. 

Before settling, the trial was scheduled to begin on April 15. 

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement to settle all claims asserted in both the Le and Johnson class action lawsuits, bringing litigation to a close and benefiting all parties,” said a UFC spokesperson in a statement. “The final terms of the settlement will be submitted to the court for approval.”

In a filing with the SEC on Wednesday, TKO revealed that the payment would be made in installments taking place “over an agreed-upon period of time.” However, the company noted that a judge must sign off on the agreement before it can be deemed official. 

TKO Group was formed last year as the result of a merger between the UFC and World Wrestling Entertainment. Following news of the settlement, TKO shares grew by 7%. 

MMA Hour Host Ariel Helwani Reacts to TKO Group Settlement

Discussing the news during a recent episode of The MMA Hour, Ariel Helwani admitted to being a bit underwhelmed by the $335 million deal. He also addressed the fact that the settlement will be tax deductible for TKO, which is huge for the multi-billion dollar conglomerate. 

“I’ll be honest. When I first saw this news come out, I was a little bit underwhelmed by that number,” Helwani said. “Nevertheless, that is going dispersed and divided among the fighters that fall under the umbrella of the time period that this class action lawsuit is overseeing. And it’s not like a perfect pie. It’s based on a multitude of factors. What is also very significant is that this will be tax deductible for TKO. That’s tremendous.”

Aside from damages, the lawsuit aimed to change the way that the UFC does business by giving professional fighters significantly more freedom and a bigger revenue share. Unfortunately, it appears as though much of that will fall by the wayside, allowing the UFC to continue conducting business in a way that is anything, but favorable to the fighters. 

“It does not appear as of now that the business practices of the UFC are going to change as a result,” Helwani added. “That, in addition to what the fighters were going to earn, was a major part of this. They wanted to change their business practices. They wanted the fighters to have more rights. To not be classified as independent contractors while being treated as employees. The freedom to X, Y, and Z. The rankings, the titles, and all of it.

“It doesn’t appear that any of this happening. And who am I to say that’s disappointing, but that seemed to be a big thing they were fighting for”

Watch the full episode of The MMA Hour below:

Published on March 20, 2024 at 4:31 pm
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