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UFC antitrust lawsuits end in $335 million settlement for fighters

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The UFC and a group representing approximately 1,200 former fighters have reached a settlement on a pair of antitrust lawsuits, which will no longer go to trial.

Less than one month prior to its previously scheduled trial start date of April 15, UFC parent-company TKO Group Holdings Inc. and the group of former fighters officially reached a settlement March 13 that was revealed Wednesday in an SEC disclosure.

The general terms of the settlement include a $335 million payment by the UFC with exact terms expected in a longer-form document in the coming days, a TKO statement to the SEC stated. The payment is tax-deductible and will occur over time in periodic installments. It is unclear exactly how the payments will be divided.

“We are pleased with the settlement and will disclose more when we file with the Court in 45-60 days,” the plaintiffs wrote on X shortly after news of the settlement was first reported by John Nash. “We Love All of these guys!”

The UFC also released a statement (via Kevin Iole): “We are pleased to have reached an agreement to settle all claims asserted in both the Le and Johnson class-action lawsuits, bringing litigation to a close and benefitting all parties. The final terms of the settlement will be submitted to the court of approval.”

Following news of the settlement, TKO Group Holdings Inc. stock raised over five dollars in less than an hour.

Five separate class-action lawsuits between December 2014 and March 2015 were eventually consolidated into one (Le, et. al), with a second separate lawsuit filed in 2021 (Johnson, et. al).

The lawsuits sought $894 million to $1.6 billion in damages and centered around alleged violations of the Sherman Act. Class-action lawsuits allow for treble damages, meaning the court could’ve tripled the amount it required the UFC to pay.

The group of former fighters claimed the UFC contract structure and business practices suppressed fighters’ abilities to negotiate and explore other promotional options, creating a monopsony. The efforts were headed by former fighters Cung Le, Kyle Kingsbury, Kajan Johnson, Jon Fitch, Brandon Vera, and others.

The plaintiffs also sought injunctive relief. As of Wednesday, it is unclear if such changes are part of the final terms of agreement.

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