Randy Couture Reacts To The UFC Anti-Trust Lawsuit Settlement – ‘Change The Way They Do Business’

March 29, 2024
3 weeks
Randy Couture Reacts To UFC Anti-Trust Lawsuit Settlement - 'Change The Way They Do Business'

Randy Couture has worries about the UFC’s anti-trust lawsuit settlement.

TKO Group Holdings Inc. agreed to a $335 million settlement in response to two class-action lawsuits filed by ex-UFC fighters. The first lawsuit was filed in 2014, alleging the UFC monopolized fighters’ pay. It accused the organization of violating anti-competitive measures to control how much fighters could make by removing competition.

The case ‘Le et al. vs Zuffa’ comprised approximately 1200 fighters. Cung Le, Nate Quarry Kajan Johnson brought the lawsuit. They were later joined by Brandon Vera, Luis Javier Vazquez and Kyle Kingsbury.

In 2021, Kajan Johnson and C.B. Dollaway filed another lawsuit on similar grounds. The damages were expected to be between $894 million and $1.6 billion. Unless a settlement was reached, a trial was set for April 15. The Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed the $335 million settlement, which was much less than previously expected. 

TKO Settlement

“On March 13, 2024, TKO reached an agreement to settle all claims asserted in both class action lawsuits ([Cung] Le and [Kajan] Johnson) for an aggregate amount of $335 million payable by the Company and its subsidiaries in installments over an agreed-upon period of time. The terms will be memorialized in a long form agreement and then submitted to the court for approval. The Company anticipates that the settlement amount will be deductible for tax purposes,” TKO Group Holdings said

However, Couture had reservations over the settlement. He felt it did nothing to prevent the UFC from operating similarly again. This may result in future fighters suffering with their earnings unless they take legal action, which is timely and costly. While he was happy to see fighters getting monetary compensation, Couture was clear that more could be done.

Courture Reacts

“Obviously, three of the biggest class action law firms in the business spent the last 10 years pursuing this, so there has to be some merit there. We know that [UFC] had a tendency to buy out anybody that was a threat or anybody that was being successful in the sport — Strikeforce on down the line. That’s the monopsony that the class action points out, and the way they do business.

“650 athletes signed to a very exclusive restrictive contract. There’s no transparency in the sport. We figured out the math, we know their goal was to keep the fighters on any given card to under 20 percent of the take from that fight. Show me another professional sport where that’s the case. My concern is in the settlement, there’s no injunctive relief.

“We’re not forcing UFC to change the way they do business, which was what the class action set out to do. So yes, great that there’s fighters in that class and I’m in the class. We’ll see some remuneration for potential money that they lost in that period by not having a free and open transparent marketplace. But, at the end of the day, we’re not forcing the promoters to do business any differently and that’s an issue. So, it’ll be interesting to see when the courts finally stamp off because we’re all being a bit premature. It hasn’t been approved yet, the settlement,” Courture stated

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