Current Cases

UFC MMA Fighters Antitrust Litigation

Status Current Case

Practice area Antitrust

Court U.S. District Court, District of Nevada

Case number 2:15-cv-01045

Overview

This class action, which was first filed in December 2014 in California federal court, alleges that the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has unlawfully monopolized the markets for promoting live professional mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts and for purchasing the services of elite professional MMA fighters. Furthermore, plaintiffs claim that UFC continues to engage in an anticompetitive scheme to suppress compensation for these elite fighters by unlawfully eliminating competition from rival MMA promoters and maintaining and unlawfully enhancing its monopsony power in the market for MMA fighter services.

Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that, among other things, the UFC’s alleged anti-competitive acts from at least 2010 to the present, have made (and maintained) the UFC as the only option for MMA fighters who want to earn a viable living in the profession. The plaintiffs further allege that, as a result of its anti-competitive conduct, the UFC receives approximately 90% of all revenue generated by MMA events in the US, while paying UFC fighters a fraction of what they would earn in a competitive marketplace.

Cohen Milstein is Co-Lead Class Counsel in this antitrust wage-suppression class action.

On July 22, 2021, Bloomberg aired an investigative report on the matter.

Important Rulings

  • On January 18, 2024, the Honorable Richard F. Boulware, II for the United States District Court for the District of Nevada denied Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) motion for summary judgment and reaffirmed the findings in its August 9 class certification order. The case will now move to trial by jury, scheduled for April 15, 2024.
  • On August 9, 2023, the Court granted class certification to the “Bout Class” of current and former UFC fighters. Specifically, the court granted class certification with respect to Defendant’s unlawful use of its monopsony power in the relevant input market of fighter services for live UFC promoted MMA bouts taking place or broadcast in the United States from December 16, 2010 to June 30, 2017.
  • UFC appealed the class certification to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On November 2, 2023, in a single page order, the Ninth Circuit denied the request to review UFC’s appeal.

“Due to this anticompetitive, coercive conduct, fighters were trapped by Zuffa’s exclusionary contracts and their restrictive terms, creating a situation in which Zuffa had unfettered power and opportunity to suppress fighters’ compensation. . . . In conclusion, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have established that Defendant’s tactics were anticompetitive. Defendant evinced a clear intent to acquire and maintain monopsony power.”

Judge Richard F. Boulware, II, Order – Class Certification (Aug. 9, 2023), Pg. 39

Other Important Updates

  • On June 24, 2021, a second class action was filed against UFC alleging the same claims (July 1, 2017 – present).