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Midnight Mania! Lorenzo Fertitta deposed under oath in anti-trust lawsuit

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Lorenzo Fertitta, the former CEO of the UFC, has been deposed as part of the ongoing lawsuit between a group of former fighters and the world’s dominant mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.

Paul Gift of has the details surrounding the testimony, and it appears Lorenzo made a well-coached defense against the argument put forward by the fighters, that the UFC has a “monopoly broth”, a confluence of several factors that allow the UFC to maintain near-total control of the market, causing harm to fighters and consumers. These factors include high barriers to entry, control of elite fighter talent, and exclusive television deals.

When asked about the barriers to entry for competing with the UFC, Fertitta mentioned obtaining a license and a venue, neither of which he believed to be very significant. And lastly, “…there’s various levels of capital that could be required.”

From this point, Fertitta’s likely preparation by UFC attorneys begins to show. Since fighters will need to show antitrust injury, he noted that the capital requirements are no different from other businesses, “You know, it’s the same in most businesses. If I want to get into the gaming business and go get a license, I guess it’s not that high barrier of an entry, other than I have to have a clean background. If I choose to compete with or borrow 15 machines, there’s a different barrier than competing with the Golden Nugget that’s right behind us.”

He was then asked about television distribution, and his response was a strong one, although of course very one-sided, given that nearly all those organizations struggled (or still struggle, in the case of WSOF) to make any kind of money, and are not ‘major players in the industry’ compared to the Ultimate Fighting Championship:

“Part of the competitive landscape historically has been distribution would be the final stage,” he said under oath. “And as I mentioned before, and it’s just fact based on what has happened historically, promotions can enter with very little barriers to entry and go from literally never have promoted a fight to being on CBS, like EliteXC.

“Or you can go from what, in your terms, was a regional promoter in Strikeforce to getting at the old Showtime, and at the flip of a switch, you’re a major player in the industry.

“You can go from being a startup in World Series of Fighting to getting a multi-fight media contract with NBC Sports and become a major player in the industry. You can go from being a startup now to going and doing a deal with ESPN, HBO.

“I guess when you think about how many channels there are on television, it gets to be hard to get your arms around because there’s so many points of distribution.”

In terms of fighter access, Lorenzo’s arguments ring hollow to anyone familiar with mixed martial arts, but make some facile sense. He ignores the name value of fighters with mainstream exposure, and the narrow window for promoters and fighers themselves to capitalize on their fame and talent.

“There are thousands, maybe multiple thousands of fighters around the world,” Fertitta stated, “because, once again, this is a global sport in a global market, that have the aptitude and the capability to compete at the highest level. There’s no question about that.

“When you talk about – and I say this with my experience from being the CEO of the UFC. There is so much talent in markets like Brazil, Russia, now starting to evolve in Asia and of course North America given the level of talent and training that now exists. It’s literally an endless number of fighters that have the ability to compete at the highest level and be the highest level fighters.”

The case is expected to drag on into 2018 and possibly early 2019.


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