Back in March, Zuffa effectively put a stranglehold on the major league MMA market with its purchase of Strikeforce. So, it wasn't surprising to hear rumors that the Federal Trade Commission was investigating the company over past trade practices.
That story has more legs now that the UFC has hired a New York City-based law firm specializing in anti-trust cases. Full Contact Fighter reports:
Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has retained Axinn-Veltrop-Harkrider, LLP, a New York City-based law firm specializing in anti-trust litigation, as defense against an on-going probe by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) into the purchase of UFC competitor Strikeforce, FCF has learned.
"It is true that Zuffa has retained my law firm, but I will not comment further," said Stephen Axinn, the firm's senior partner. "As I am sure you know, people generally do not want to comment where there may be possibly some sort of investigation going on."
UFC President Dana White and Chairman/CEO Lorenzo Fertitta brushed off anti-trust worries during a conference call to announce the Strikeforce purchase (audio and transcription by Youtube user dotcomaniac):
Lorenzo Fertitta: Obviously we wouldn't have done the transaction if we felt we were. I think at the end of the day as I mentioned before (laugh), there is literally thousands of of other promotions... thousands of options for fighters. It just so happens that with the groundwork that we've put in place over the last 10 or 11 years, that we happen to be the most successful. And one again, there is plenty of competition and there is literally no barrier to entry.
Anybody that wants to get into the business they can go file for a promoters license and put up some capital and go sign fighters and go get a television contract. There is plenty of options there to. So it's a wide open market for anybody who wants to get involved.
Dana White: Ya, Lorenzo literally said it. All you got to to is go out and raise some cash and jump into the business. All you got to have is some big balls. Some big balls and some money behind you and you can get into the MMA business.
I won't masquerade as some anti-trust expert, but some of the principles of a monopoly are often misunderstood by people. For starters, a company does not need 100% control of goods and services (or 100% control of buying goods and services in the case of monopsony) to be deemed a monopoly.
At the same time, a monopoly is only in danger of suffering penalties if said monopoly abuses the power. In this case, there's certainly a strong argument that a UFC monopoly/monopsony does more good than harm.