Three former MMA fighters are seeking class-action status for a lawsuit accusing the UFC of engaging in anti-competitive practices. The lawsuit accuses the UFC of driving down fighter pay including forcing fighters into exclusive long-term contracts.
Las Vegas federal judge Richard Boulware is expected soon to decide whether to grant them class certification.
If the judge rules in their favor, 1,200 current, and former UFC fighters could join the suit, lawyers told The New York Post. If the judge rules against the fighters, it can kill the suit.
Recently, multimillion-dollar payments were handed out to the organization’s famous investors. A massive $300 million dividend went to stars like Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Gisele Bündchen, Ben Affleck, Serena, and Venus Williams.
About half of the $300 million will go to Endeavor, the entertainment holding company run by Hollywood superagent Ari Emanuel. Endeavor bought a 50 percent stake in UFC in 2016 for $4 billion.
Endeavor also owns Hollywood talent agency William Morris, fashion and sports media agency IMG and the Miss Universe Pageant.
Beneficiaries include UFC president Dana White, Endeavor CEO Emanuel and Endeavor executive chairman Patrick Whitesell. All received $3 million each.
This also marks the first time UFC has issued a dividend payment since Endeavor bought a 50 percent stake in 2016.
UFC has argued that the ex-fighters’ anti-competitive claims aren’t sound. They also believe it is an issue would for the Federal Trade Commission, not a jury. UFC has also argued that there are five competing mixed martial arts leagues.
Fighters complain that UFC restricts their ability to make money in other ways. Normally, unless you are a champion the UFC keeps the pay-per-view revenue. This is unlike boxing, which often promises the pay-per-view revenues and purse to the fighters.