Judge Richard F. Boulware of the United States District Court, District of Nevada, today at a hearing orally granted class certification. A written order confirming certification will be issued shortly. The class certification drew considerable press attention, including from the New York Times, ESPN, and the California Daily Journal.
The Joseph Saveri Law Firm serves as Co-Lead Counsel in an antitrust class action lawsuit on behalf of current and former 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 Professional MMA fighters, and using that power to suppress their compensation.
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 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 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. Class certification was granted at a December 10, 2020 hearing.
December 10, 2020
December 5, 2018
Named Plaintiffs and Plaintiffs’ Counsel in the Zuffa lawsuit held an information session for members of the proposed class (i.e., all fighters who competed in UFC bouts, or who had their identity rights used or taken by the UFC, after December 16, 2010) to provide updates on the status of the lawsuit. This meeting was held at the law offices of Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin, LLP in Las Vegas and was open to all potential class members.
September 21, 2018
Plaintiffs filed their Opposition to Zuffa LLC’s Motion for Summary Judgment (filed under seal along with a publicly available, redacted version). This motion is currently awaiting ruling by the Court.
February 16, 2018
Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Class Certification (filed under seal, along with a publicly available, redacted version). This motion was opposed by Zuffa LLC and is awaiting ruling by the Court.
Judge Richard F. Boulware of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada denied Defendant Zuffa’s motion to dismiss the consolidated complaint. Read the order here.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada consolidated the actions and appointed the Joseph Saveri Law Firm as Interim Co-Lead Class Counsel. See the appointment order here.
Judge Edward J. Davila transferred the related Le, Vazquez, and Vera cases to the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
Joseph Saveri Law Firm filed two additional lawsuits: Vazquez et al. v. Zuffa, LLC and Vera et al. v. Zuffa, LLC.
Joseph Saveri Law Firm on behalf of Cung Le, Nathan Quarry, and Jon Fitch filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Elite Professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Read the complaint here.