Lawyers representing former UFC fighters who are suing the promotional company for violating anti-trust laws are seeking to depose Dana White and other UFC executives. The case is currently in discovery, which means the two legal teams are interviewing stakeholders in the lawsuits and exchanging any other information relevant to the case. The article, which is behind a pay wall, also mentions that the executives at WME-IMG may also be deposed.
The lawsuit claiming that the UFC was violating anti-trust laws began in December of 2015. Former UFC fighters Cung Lee, Jon Fitch, and Nate Quarry were the three plaintiffs mentioned in the class action lawsuit. There is the possibility of other fighters joining the lawsuit as plaintiffs in the future.
The UFC has been the largest promoter in mixed martial arts with a considerable edge in negotiating contracts with fighters. With the assets and money that the UFC has had they have been the most dominant business in the industry, giving them near-monopoly powers in the industry. In the complaint the plaintiffs argue that the UFC’s business practices are designed to maintain monopoly-like power into the future by acquiring other promotional companies.
A few of the key claims in the complaint is that the UFC is able to have an unreasonably high level of bargaining power, which pushes the price down on fighters, and can force them into agreeing to lopsided agreements in order to be relevant and make money in the MMA world. An example is Jon Fitch, who claims after refusing to sign over his image and video rights to the UFC for the first UFC video game he was cut by the company. However, Fitch’s last fight was a loss to George St.-Pierre, which means he could have been released from his contract based on the conditions within the contract.
By deposing UFC executives such as Dana White, the plaintiff’s lawyers are hoping to uncover clear planning by the executives within the UFC to maintain monopoly-like powers in order to drive down contracts given to fighters and to maintain a majority of power within the MMA industry. The FTC previously investigated the company and did not find wrongdoing but did say they would continue to investigate if new evidence arose.