At a press conference held yesterday it was announced that MMA veterans Nate Quarry, Jon Fitch and Cung Le have filed a class action antitrust lawsuit against the UFC and its parent company, Zuffa. All three athletes have fought under the UFC banner, with Le being the only one still under contract with the promotion.
"The news today is this," said Joseph Saveri of the Joseph Saveri Law Firm, "at approximately 12:45 this afternoon, these fighters filed a class action antitrust lawsuit in federal court in San Jose. The complaint alleges a claim under the federal antitrust laws for¬†monopolization against Zuffa, LLC, which does business as Ultimate Fighting Championship¬†or UFC."¬†
"Today, there is only one real promotional option for elite professional MMA fighters - the UFC," he added. "The reason there is only one option is that the UFC has systematically shut down its competitors over the years and essentially prevented any real competitive alternative promotion from coming into the market. The¬†consequence¬†of that has been very serious and severe to MMA¬†athletes. Not only have the MMA athletes been unable to obtain what they're worth in this sport, but they've also lost control of their likenesses and their ability to profit from their own ability. The purpose of the lawsuit we've filed is to basically to right these wrongs, to change the status quo and to restore healthy competition in this industry."
Cung Le recently¬†requested¬†to be released from his UFC contract after he was¬†suspended¬†by the promotion for supposedly testing positive for elevated levels of human growth hormone. His suspension was later¬†lifted¬†after it became clear the test results were not conclusive. However, he stated that his decision to get involved with this lawsuit was not motivated by his recent issues with his employers.
"It's been definitely a tough road," Le said. "I'm just honored to be part of this lawsuit against UFC for all the past UFC fighters, like Carlos Newton, and Nate [Quarry] and so many names I'd need a list here. For all the future fighters and potentially one day, if my kids want to pursue the same path as I do, they would have a better situation to be in. I'm just very excited to get this going." ¬†
"I just want everyone to know that the sport of mixed martial arts is the most restrained sport in the world," said former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Newton, who is not an official part of the lawsuit but was present at the press conference to show his support. "It's restrained by the UFC, and the UFC is the fastest growing monopoly in the world. I'm here to fix that.
‚ÄúI'm here to stand in with my fellow fighters and we're here to remove the anti-competitive restraints, address the antitrust violations, gain compensation for our sweat, blood, our years of dedication and hard work. And I'm here, like Cung, for my future generations of fighters, which includes my own children.
‚ÄúA big thing I'd like to say is, for me, I want to be able to fight for what I'm worth and not rely on someone else's generosity. I want to fight in a democracy, not under a dictatorship.‚ÄĚ
Full details of the lawsuit can be read below.¬†
In response to the lawsuit, Zuffa released the following statement:¬†"The UFC is aware of the action filed today but has not been served, nor has it had the opportunity to review the document. The UFC will vigorously defend itself and its business practices."