UFC agrees to $335 million settlement for antitrust lawsuits

Originally published at UFC agrees to $335 million settlement for antitrust lawsuits

UFC has reached settlements in two different antitrust lawsuits, stopping the promotion from having to defend itself in a trial next month, pending approval of the agreement by a judge.

TKO Group Holdings reached an agreement last week to pay $335 million to resolve a pair of class action lawsuits, per a filing obtained Wednesday by John S. Nash. The two lawsuits cover antitrust lawsuits covering two different periods of the promotion’s existence.

Settlement reached for both Le v Zuffa & Johnson v Zuffa (likely almost zero damaages for Johnson because most signed class action waivers) Amount $335m. pic.twitter.com/CknnFrcdJJ

— John S. Nash (@heynottheface) March 20, 2024

“On March 13, 2024, TKO reached an agreement to settle all claims asserted in both class action lawsuits for an aggregate amount of $335 million,” a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) states.

The agreement not only stops the UFC from being scrutinized and judged in a trial setting but also prevents them from suffering larger damages.

“Cung Le, et al. v. Zuffa, LLC,” a lawsuit aiming to cover fighters from December 2010 to June 2017, was seeking $894 million up to $1.6 billion in damages. A lawsuit representing fighters from 2017 and on, “Johnson v. Zuffa,” was not as far along as the other case but was also included as part of the recent settlement.

The older of the two cases has been moving through the legal process for nearly a decade. An official site from the group said: “UFC used improper strategies to dominate the market for MMA fighter services, allowing it to pay its MMA fighters less than half as much as they otherwise would have received.”

“We are pleased with the settlement and will disclose more when we file with the court in 45-60 days,” said Mixed Martial Arts Fighter Association, the group behind the larger antitrust lawsuit, via social media on Wednesday.

UFC was heavily scrutinized for its pay and contract structures in the lead-up to the case. The discovery process for the case revealed what was already known by many, that the promotion paid its fighters significantly less than most leading sports leagues. Instances of executives allegedly celebrating their ability to block fighters from being booked were on display as well. Bloody Elbow uncovered Dana White telling Lorenzo Fertitta that he pulled off a “cut throat nasty business move” after stopping Gilbert Melendez from competing in Bellator.

The stock market has reacted positively to the settlement. TKO Group Holdings jumped up more than four percent on Wednesday, moving up to a value of over $86 per share.

So this basically means everything remains status quo then. If fighters aren’t going out of their way to fight for better rights, what’s the point of us putting so much energy into it?