You’ve stepped into the ring to take on Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC. Who are you representing and what is the central claim in this case?
California antitrust attorney Joseph Saveri reflects on how he challenged Ultimate Fighting Championship on behalf of fighters.
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In that case, we represent UFC fighters. Those are individuals who engage in mixed martial arts competition. We are challenging monopolistic practices by the company that is known as the Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC. We allege that over a number of years, the UFC has taken over and dominated this market and this sport. They’ve excluded competition and taken other acts in violation of the antitrust law. One of the chief consequences of that and one of the vehicles for doing that has been a series of agreements and understandings with fighters. And the consequence of the violations of the antitrust laws have been serious. Among other things, the result of the monopolistic practices has been that rivals or other competitors have been driven out of the UFC or the mixed martial arts business. And that the competitors have had their compensation driven down to a point where of all comparative sports, mixed martial arts competitors who have competed for the UFC under the office of the UFC has been paid far too little.
What we allege is monopolization practices were UFC has taken over its competitors. The agreements that I’ve been talking about are a device that are used to enforce their dominance over the industry. Those are agreements that fighters are essentially forced to enter into. The agreements contain a number of serious and one-sided provisions, including things like the wages or the compensation fighters receive for competing in UFC events. Fighters have to essentially give away their likenesses, which the UFC uses on television, Cable TV, Pay-Per-View, videogames. So as a consequence of the – excuse me. As a consequence of the monopolistic practices, fighters are really deprived of the value of their services of what they do. And we are challenging that, one, to try to get some of that money back to fighters, as well as to stop these practices in the future.
The fighters take enormous physical risks and put their wellbeing in jeopardy. And we say they should be entitled to do that in a place and in a way where they are compensated for the value that they provide and in what they do.