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UFC Heavyweights Line Up To Testify In Antitrust Suit

 |  February 25, 2024

In the ongoing class-action antitrust case against the UFC, several prominent fighters and influential figures within the mixed martial arts (MMA) community have been revealed to be testifying on behalf of the UFC.

According to documents filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, a lineup of notable current and former fighters, including a UFC Hall of Famer, will stand in defense of the UFC parent company, Zuffa. Among the expected witnesses are esteemed names like Michael Chandler, Michael Bisping, Chael Sonnen, Miesha Tate, and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, reported ESPN.

The presence of these celebrated fighters, some of whom have attained legendary status in the sport, underscores the stakes of the case, which alleges anticompetitive practices by the UFC aimed at monopolizing the market for elite professional MMA fighter services.

Moreover, the list of expected witnesses extends beyond the cage, including prominent managers of MMA fighters such as Ali Abdelaziz, Jason House, Josh Jones, Dan Lambert, and Ed Soares. Abdelaziz, known for representing top-tier talents like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Kamaru Usman, brings substantial influence to the proceedings. Lambert’s dual role as a manager and owner of American Top Team adds further weight to the UFC’s defense.

Additionally, key figures within the UFC hierarchy, including CEO Dana White, former co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta, and various matchmakers and executives, are slated to testify, underscoring the organization’s concerted effort to combat the allegations.

Related: UFC’s Hopes Dashed as Ninth Circuit Denies Antitrust Appeal

The plaintiffs, comprising former UFC fighters such as Cung Le, Nathan Quarry, and Jon Fitch, contend that the UFC systematically suppressed wages and eliminated competition, thereby consolidating monopsony power in the market. The lawsuit seeks substantial damages ranging from $894 million to $1.6 billion.

Central to the plaintiffs’ argument is the disparity in revenue sharing between fighters and the organization, with the UFC reportedly allocating only 18% to 20% of its revenue to fighters, compared to the more equitable splits observed in major team sports.

Despite the looming legal showdown, no fighter within the specified class period has opted out of potential compensation in the event of a favorable verdict or settlement, reflecting widespread concerns within the MMA community regarding fighter compensation and labor rights.

With the trial scheduled to commence on April 15 in Las Vegas, the inclusion of such high-profile witnesses on behalf of the UFC sets the stage for a fiercely contested legal battle that could reshape the landscape of professional MMA.

Note: Information from the briefs was first reported by Bloody Elbow.

Source: ESPN