UFC Lands a Major Settlement in Fighter Wage Class Action

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UFC Reaches $335 Million Settlement In A Class Action Over Fighter Wages, Averting Trial And Marking A Major Moment For Athlete Compensation.

In a major announcement from the world of mixed martial arts, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has reached a $335 million settlement in a class action lawsuit concerning fighter wages. This settlement averts a trial that was on the horizon, marking a pivotal moment in the ongoing discussion about athlete compensation in the sport.

A quick recap of the ring

The dispute traces back to December 2014 when former UFC fighters, including Cung Le, Nate Quarry, and Jon Fitch, initiated a class action lawsuit against the organization. They alleged that UFC engaged in practices that unfairly suppressed fighters' earnings.

Over time, more than 1,200 fighters joined the legal action, covering a period from December 2010 to June 2017. A subsequent lawsuit filed by C.B. Dollaway and Kajan Johnson in June 2021 extended these claims to include fighters who competed after July 2017.

Central to the UFC class action lawsuit were accusations that the UFC monopolized the market for mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter services. It was alleged that the organization signed fighters to long-term, exclusive contracts, preventing them from freely negotiating better deals and, in some cases, coerced fighters into re-signing under less favorable terms. Moreover, the UFC's strategy of acquiring or closing down competing promotions was highlighted as a violation of antitrust laws.

The final bell

Just weeks before a scheduled trial on April 15, the UFC and TKO Group Holdings, its parent company, agreed to the settlement. The $335 million payment will be distributed in installments over a period, settling claims from all involved fighters.

This agreement concludes both the original UFC antitrust lawsuit and the subsequent action filed by Dollaway and Johnson. Had the case proceeded to trial, the UFC could have faced up to $1.6 billion in damages.

For those keeping score, this means the end of both the original and the follow-up lawsuits and with the legal gloves off, it's going to be interesting to see how UFC and its fighters move forward from here.

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