LAS VEGAS, NV – Judge Richard F. Boulware of the United States District Court, District of Nevada, today at a hearing orally granted class certification in Cung Le v. Zuffa., an antitrust class action lawsuit on behalf of current and former Elite Professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Fighters against Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). A written order confirming certification will be issued shortly.
The suit charges Zuffa LLC (which does business as UFC) with illegally acquiring and maintaining monopoly and monopsony power over Elite Professional MMA fighters, and using that power to suppress their compensation.
Elite Professional MMA Fighters allege that UFC illegally suppressed their wages by blocking other promoters from competing for their services and extracting one-sided concessions. UFC is the largest promoter of MMA events, with some 90% of the market, and has used its dominant position to demand exclusive arrangements with the physical venues, media outlets, and major sponsors necessary to successfully promote top-tier entertainment.
“UFC’s illegal acquisition and application of monopoly and monopsony power to suppress the wages of Elite Professional MMA fighters is inexcusable,” said Joseph Saveri, Co-Lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “Because other promoters are excluded from top arenas, TV, pay-per-view, and other national media outlets, they simply cannot compete, and are either put out of business or relegated to second-tier status as a de facto farm system. We are grateful to Judge Boulware for recognizing the importance and class issues in this case, and for granting class certification.”
UFC contracts typically offer poor wages, and claim exclusive rights to the fighters’ names and likenesses for marketing and merchandising in perpetuity–meaning that fighters don’t receive royalties and cannot use their own names and hard-won recognition to promote personal ventures for the remainder of their lives.
Cung Le v. Zuffa, LLC, seeks treble damages under Section 2 of the Sherman Act, as well as injunctive relief for current and former Elite Professional MMA fighters. The case is pending in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada.