April 13, 2021
Le et al. v. Zuffa, LLC, d/b/a/ Ultimate Fighting Championship and UFC
Case No. 2:15-cv-01045 RFB-BNW (D. Nev.)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Philadelphia, PA – April 13, 2021) – The representatives for a proposed class of professional mixed martial arts fighters in an antitrust lawsuit against the Ultimate Fighting Championship (“UFC”) today announced the launch of a new case website—www.UFCclassaction.com—dedicated to informing members of the proposed class and the general public about the case.
“To inform fighters who are members of the proposed class and others about the status of and key developments in the case, today the plaintiffs are announcing the launch of the website UFCclassaction.com. We plan to use this site to update and inform fighters of the status of our lawsuit,” said named plaintiff Cung Le.
In December 2020, Judge Richard F. Boulware, a U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Nevada, who is overseeing the UFC antitrust class action, indicated that the Court would be granting class certification to professional mixed martial artists who competed in bouts for the UFC. This ruling would allow the ground-breaking antitrust lawsuit filed by MMAFA members Cung Le, Nathan Quarry, Jon Fitch, Brandon Vera, Javier Vazquez, and Kyle Kingsbury to proceed as a class action. Specifically, the class would include:
“All persons who competed in one or more live professional UFC-promoted MMA bouts taking place or broadcast in the United States from December 16, 2010, to June 30, 2017.”
Further, in January 2021, the Court indicated its intent to unseal and make public many of the documents that have become part of the record in this case with the publication of its anticipated class certification order.
The UFCclassaction.com website contains explanations of what has happened to date in the case, answers to frequently asked questions about participating in the class action, and key documents from the litigation, such as the public versions of legal filings, exhibits, and expert reports.
“We encourage all current and former UFC fighters to visit UFCclassaction.com to learn more about the status and key developments in this ground-breaking case,” said Eric L. Cramer, one of the lead counsel for the proposed class.
In December 2014, a group of current and former UFC fighters filed a class action lawsuit against the UFC. The lawsuit alleges that Zuffa (which owns the UFC) violated antitrust laws by paying UFC fighters far less than they were entitled to receive, unfairly restricting the use of their identities, and eliminating or hurting other MMA promoters. The fighters claim that Zuffa engaged in the following anticompetitive practices:
- locking fighters into long-term, exclusive contracts which, the fighters say, prevents them from competing elsewhere;
- using its market dominance to coerce fighters to re-sign contracts, allegedly making the contracts effectively perpetual and preventing fighters from reaching free agency; and
- acquiring and then closing down other MMA promoters that threatened the UFC’s dominance.
The fighters contend that by locking up the vast majority of top fighters in each weight class and buying out its biggest rivals, Zuffa’s scheme prevented potential competitors from obtaining the critical mass of top fighters necessary to compete with the UFC, rendering other promotions to the “minor leagues.” In MMA, athletes obtain fame by competing against ranked opponents, ascending the rankings, and vying for titles. The fighters argue that by acquiring all potential competitors and signing virtually all top Fighters to Exclusive Contracts, Zuffa left the top Fighters and aspiring top Fighters with nowhere else to go. Due to this lack of competition, according to the fighters, Zuffa pays UFC fighters significantly less than they otherwise would if the fighters had more options.
The law firms representing the fighters are Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Berger Montague PC, The Joseph Saveri Law Firm, Inc., Kemp Jones LLP, and Warner Angle Hallam Jackson & Formanek PLC.