LAS VEGAS, Dec. 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Judge Richard F. Boulware of the United States District Court, District of Nevada, today at a hearing announced he will grant 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 Zuffa LLC, the company that runs the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). A written order certifying the class 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 fights, and using that power to suppress fighter 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 contracts with fighters
“The 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. “Its exclusive contracts with fighters exclude other promoters from the market, putting them out of business or relegating them to second-tier status as a de facto farm system. The UFC has also acquired its market power by improperly acquiring its potential rivals. We are grateful to Judge Boulware for recognizing the importance of the class issues in this case, and for indicating his intention to grant 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 do not 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.
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