The Joseph Saveri Law Firm serves as Co-Lead Counsel in an antitrust class action lawsuit on behalf of current and former Elite Professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Fighters against Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
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,” says Joseph Saveri, interim 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.”
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.
“UFC pays its fighters a mere fraction of what athletes make in similar sports such as boxing,” Saveri says. “Fighters who want to establish a national reputation have no choice but to sign with UFC, but then they are left with no opportunity to profit from their success.”
The suit, 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. Motions for class certification and summary judgment are fully briefed, with hearings to be held in the fall of 2019.