In a blow to the UFC, two judges have denied the promotion’s request to appeal class certification in its ongoing antitrust lawsuit.
The lawsuit, originally filed in 2014 by former UFC fighters seeking damages from the organization, was granted “bout class” certification in August by the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas. The UFC’s legal team had anticipated this decision and planned to appeal it, but their appeal request has now been denied by federal judges with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a one-page document filed on Wednesday, the judges stated that the UFC’s appeal did not adequately address the extensive evidence supporting class certification. This denial is a significant victory for the plaintiffs, who include notable fighters such as Cung Le, John Fitch, Kyle Kingsbury, and Brandon Vera, among others.
The former fighters allege that the UFC engaged in anti-competitive practices to suppress fighter pay, including monopolizing the market and preventing competition from 2010 to 2017. They are seeking damages ranging from $811 million to $1.6 billion from the Las Vegas-based promotion, potentially affecting 1,200 fighters during the specified time period.
Judge Richard F. Boulware, who presides over the case, has expressed his intention to prioritize it and aims to hold a trial in March or April 2024, marking a decade since the initial filing. The rejection of the UFC’s appeal brings the case one step closer to trial, although there are still additional obstacles to overcome.
Additionally, the UFC is currently facing another antitrust lawsuit brought by Kajan Johnson, a former UFC fighter from 2014 to 2018. This separate case covers fighters who competed from June 2017 to the present day and shares similarities with the lawsuit led by Cung Le.
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