For months, Bloody Elbow reporters John Nash and Brent Brookhouse have been investigating rumors of a class action lawsuit against the UFC by former and current fighters. Bloody Elbow can now confirm through multiple sources that such a lawsuit is not only in the works but that a filing is imminent.
While we have been told the names of several potential signatories we have as yet been unable to confirm that those names will appear on the complaint. As was told to Bloody Elbow, the recent announcement of the Reebok sponsorship deal with the UFC appears to have reached into the suit, resulting in some strategic changes.
We have been able to confirm that the suit will be based on accusations that the UFC has violated antitrust laws by abusing their "market power" to intentionally and systematically cripple the free market. Several of the individuals we spoke to compared it to the recent San Jose hi-tech employee and NCAA antitrust cases. The manager of one high profile fighter who wished to remain anonymous has informed Bloody Elbow that the plaintiffs will be seeking damages for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars due to reduced fight purses, video game rights fees, and other sources of income. The final amount could even be greater, with statutes awarding "treble damages" in antitrust cases.
Another manager referred to the pending suit as "a game changer."
According to our sources the fighters are represented by three or four large firms renowned for antitrust litigation. The firms named to us have won major class action antitrust cases against bigger targets than the UFC, including against those in the banking, credit, technology and pharmaceutical industries.
As one well known former fighter told us "These are major players. These are not people [the UFC] will be able to out-spend."
While we can not release names of the potential signatories at this time, the names that have been reported to us are notable fighters and personalities in the sport.
Bloody Elbow has reached out to the UFC for their comments on the pending suit and we will provide updates as they become available.
Keep your browser locked on Bloody Elbow in the coming days and weeks as we will have much more about the lawsuit, which has very legitimate potential to completely alter the way UFC business operates.