On Tuesday, Dec. 16, a class-action lawsuit was filed against UFC parent-company, Zuffa, LLC, alleging that the promotion and company operate as both a monopoly and monopsony in the mixed martial arts marketplace.
The antitrust case was filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose Division and names former UFC title challengers Jon Fitch and Nate Quarry, as well as current UFC fighter Cung Le, as plaintiffs.
In the complaint, the plaintiffs argue that the UFC has engaged in illegal, anti-competition practices that have hindered their ability to make money as professional fighters. This includes references to the promotion’s sponsorship tax, the purchase of multiple rival promotions and exclusive contract verbiage that limits the use of fighters’ likenesses in video games and action figures.
Additionally, the suit claims that the promotion is not a “league” because unlike other North American sports leagues such as the National Football League, there are no other teams competing for the fighters’ services.
All three of the named plaintiffs have openly voiced their displeasure with the UFC. Fitch, who now competes under the World Series of Fighting banner, was famously fired for refusing to allow his likeness in the UFC’s first video game. He eventually caved and was brought back to the promotion. Quarry, who competed on The Ultimate Fighter, has been an outspoken critic of the promotion for the way it treats and pays fighters. Le, who is still under contract with the promotion, recently fought the promotion for the way it handled an overseas drug test.
The UFC has twice been investigated by the Federal Trade Commission (in 2011 and 2012), but no action was taken in both instances.