Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was hit with a class action lawsuit courtesy of Nate Quarry, Jon Fitch, and Cung Le on Tuesday (Dec 16. 2014), who accused the promotion of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, after illegally maintaining monopoly and monoposony power by "systematically eliminating competition from rival promoters, artificially suppressing fighters' earnings from bouts and merchandising and marketing activities through restrictive contracting and other exclusionary practices."
Read the full complaint here.
While no one knows how exactly this will affect the promotion, the aforementioned plaintiffs and perhaps more importantly, the current roster of fighters employed by ZUFFA, the lawsuit is in full effect and the lawyers spearheading it mean business.
But according to Todd Martin, a mixed martial arts (MMA) writer who also moonlights as an attorney, he seems to think the case built against UFC isn't very strong at all.
Just finished reading through the class action lawsuit against the UFC. Bottom line, as an attorney, I don't see a strong case laid out.— Todd Martin (@ToddMartinMMA) December 16, 2014
The primary problem is that even conceding UFC's powerful market share, the allegations of anticompetitive conduct just aren't very strong.— Todd Martin (@ToddMartinMMA) December 16, 2014
I don't buy signing fighters to exclusive contracts is anticompetitive, even putting aside the independent contractor/employee distinction.— Todd Martin (@ToddMartinMMA) December 16, 2014
Locking up venues is potentially anticompetitive, but it's not as if competitor has struggled to find arenas or that it affected anything.— Todd Martin (@ToddMartinMMA) December 16, 2014
And while UFC has taken almost unnerving glee in competitors dying, they almost all were struggling or dying on their own.— Todd Martin (@ToddMartinMMA) December 16, 2014
What you have at heart is a brash company, but not a lot of evidence of anti competitive conduct that secured its dominant market share.— Todd Martin (@ToddMartinMMA) December 16, 2014
Still, the world's leading mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion released this statement saying that it plans to "vigorously defend itself and its business practices." Perhaps they'd like to consider adding Mr. Martin to their legal team.
According to one of the attorneys leading the charge against UFC, the case can take up to a few years to be resolved. And as Dr. Johny Benjamin stated, "Powerhouse law firms didn't become so by taking on cases they had no chance of winning or backing down from a fight. They ain't playin'!"
Which means UFC is in for quite a fight.
To listen to the full audio of the media conference call with all the pertinent details, click here.