Monday, May 23, 2022

Former UFC Fighters File Lawsuit Against The UFC And Endeavor

Former UFC fighters are now filing another lawsuit against the UFC and its parent company Endeavor Group Holdings.

A new lawsuit has been filed by C.B. Dollaway and Kajan Johnson against the UFC and Endeavor Group Holdings that is similar to another class-action style lawsuit currently being litigated that represents fighters like Cung Le, Nate Quarry, Jon Fitch, and Kyle Kingsbury.

One of the firms representing Dollaway and Johnson, Berger-Montague, admitted the cases were similar and issued the following statement about the most recent case.

“The lawsuit filed by Johnson and Dollaway alleges that Zuffa violated antitrust laws by paying UFC fighters far less than they were entitled to receive and eliminating or hurting other MMA promoters,” representatives of the lawsuit said in a statement. “The class period ultimately proposed by the plaintiffs in the Le action closed on June 30, 2017. Plaintiffs Johnson and Dollaway bring this case on behalf of those like themselves who fought in a bout promoted by the UFC on or after July 1, 2017.”

In December of 2020 Judge Richard F. Boulware, a U.S. District Court Judge for Nevada, ensured the courts of Nevada would grant class certification to fighters seeking damages against the UFC and Endeavor.

With the filing change, that would open the lawsuit to other fighters seeking compensation. In particular, “all persons who competed in one or more live professional UFC-promoted MMA bouts taking place or broadcast in the United States from Dec. 16, 2010 to June 30, 2017.” So, fighters will have the opportunity to opt-out or opt-in should the class action get certified.

New Lawsuit Tenets Against The UFC & Endeavor

Similar to previous class action lawsuits with the UFC, the lawsuit maintains that the UFC engages in many anti-competitive practices that hurt the athlete.

  • The company’s ability to lock fighters into long term contracts, which fighters indicated inhibits them from competing elsewhere.
  • The utilization of market dominance to coerce or pressure athletes into signing perpetual-like contracts that inhibit free-agency exploration.
  • The acquisition and subsequent dissolvement of businesses that directly compete with the UFC.

In essence, the lawsuit alleges that the UFC and Endeavor are a monopoly (a single seller of goods and services who controls the market) and using monopoly-like tactics to disenfranchise athletes.

Prior to the current lawsuit, the first filing provided evidence that the UFC unlike other sports entities only shares roughly 20% of their revenue earnings with their athletes, while agencies like the NFL or NBA pay out around 50% to their athletes respectively.

Judge Boulware has indicated that he will certify the class-action lawsuit (open it to more claimants) but that has yet to happen, so for now a pause button will be pushed. In the likelihood that the certification is passed through, the UFC will still have the opportunity (if they choose) to appeal the lawsuit, and that litigation would obviously take quite some time. However, perhaps this is a sign of good things to come for fighters as they approach the UFC from a different angle for their desired pay.

MMANews will keep you updated on the story should there be any major developments!

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