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UFC antitrust lawsuit plaintiffs subpoena Twitter and YouTube records for over 25 accounts

In the last five days, we've learned new information about the strategies of Zuffa and the fighters as well as the identities of the subpoenaed Twitter and YouTube accounts.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

After a period of inactivity, the last few days have seen new information arise in the fighter lawsuit against the UFC for anticompetitively maintaining its monopoly power through the use of exclusive fighter contracts.

Last Friday evening (Jan. 30), Zuffa filed a motion to have the case transferred to Nevada. Zuffa argued that every plaintiff fighter signed a contract agreeing to litigate disputes in Nevada. One of the sample clauses is as follows:

ZUFFA and Fighter agree that the exclusive jurisdiction and venue for the resolution of any dispute arising from or relating to this Agreement shall lie in the Eighth Judicial District Court for the State of Nevada, sitting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Zuffa then argued that since fighters agreed to resolve any contract disputes in Nevada, this also applies to antitrust claims, stating "disputes over interpretation or performance of a contract applies to non-contract claims, including antitrust claims."

The filing also gave us two other pieces of information. (1) We were given a taste of the types of witnesses Zuffa may call as they attempt to show that MMA promotions compete against a broader base of sports. Top Rank, Wynn Las Vegas and Lion Fights were specifically mentioned as potential witnesses. (2) Zuffa made a not-so-veiled threat that they may counterclaim the fighters for "breach of the forum selection clause"  and seek damages for "travel and other costs incurred." Since it's highly likely the fighters are paying their lawyers on a contingent fee basis, this is Zuffa's way of threatening to take money out of the fighters' pockets.

The fighters undoubtedly filed the lawsuit in the Northern California district for a reason and will vigorously oppose Zuffa's motion to change venues, but that opposition will come at a later date. In the meantime, Zuffa submitted another filing to expedite the hearing date for its motion to transfer, moving it up to Mar. 26 from May 7. Yesterday the fighters officially opposed, hoping to keep the May 7 hearing date in place.

As one reads through newest the filing, it becomes clear the fighters want to delay in order to have every opportunity to gather disclosures and additional information from Zuffa. They explicitly state an interest in gathering addresses of witnesses, the location of UFC documents and learning more about the extent of UFC operations in California.

To support their opposition, plaintiff attorney Joseph Saveri filed a declaration which in and of itself is not very interesting, until the very end. We knew the plaintiffs submitted certificates of service on Jan. 8 for subpoenas to Twitter and Google, but we didn't know the details. The exhibits to Saveri's declaration include the full subpoenas.

The plaintiffs demanded content for the following people or organizations: Bruce Buffer, Heidi Dean, Ant Evans, Frank Fertitta, Lorenzo Fertitta, Don Gold, Mike Goldberg, Ryan Grab, Matt HughesChuck Liddell, Prescott Miller, MKW, Heidi Noland, Marc RatnerJoe Rogan, Dave Sholler, Burt Watson, Dana White, UFC, UFC Fight Pass, UFC Fit, UFC Gym, UFC Magazine, UFC News, UFC Primetime, UFC Store, UFC Tonight, UFC Ultimate Fighter, Zuffa LLC.

From Twitter, they demanded:

All content (including but not limited to all tweets, re-tweets, "follows," messages sent or received, or notifications received) and account information (including but not limited to customer names, screen names, associated email addresses, account creator date and a log of any deletions or modifications to the account or its contents)...

From Google, they demanded:

All YouTube content (including but not limited to videos uploaded, comments made, channel subscriptions, "liked videos," video watching history, or playlists made) and account information (including but not limited to customer names, screen names, associated email addresses, account creator date and a log of any deletions or modifications to the account or its contents)...

It was common knowledge the plaintiffs would target Dana White. They've even explicitly stated in court filings they believe he engaged in "mass deletions" of tweets immediately after the lawsuit was filed. What we didn't know was that Bruce Buffer, Joe Rogan, Goldy and Burt "The Babysitter" Watson would get caught up in the mix. Hey, at least John Anik and Brian Stann are off the hook.

Bloody Elbow will keep our readers updated on the progress of this case as more information becomes available. See here and here for my detailed breakdown of the plaintiffs' monopoly claims and the UFC's likely defenses.