Why is the UFC antitrust lawsuit taking so long? Because judges suck

Bloody Elbow's John S. Nash spoke with Matt Stoller to find out why the UFC antitrust lawsuit is taking so long to come to a conclusion.

By: Tim Bissell | 5 months ago
Why is the UFC antitrust lawsuit taking so long? Because judges suck
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What is the UFC Antitrust Lawsuit?

The UFC antitrust lawsuit came into being in late 2014. That’s when a group of current and former MMA fighters decided to sue the UFC and their parent company ZUFFA LLC. The fighters who got the ball rolling were Cung Le, Nate Quarry, Jon Fitch, Brandon Vera, Luis Javier Vazquez and Kyle Kingsbury.

The lawsuit alleged that the UFC was using unfair strategies to dominate the MMA marketplace and create a monopsony (an environment where the UFC outweighed all its competitors as the a buyer of fighters’ services). The lawsuit further alleged that this environment has allowed the UFC to grossly underpay fighters for their services and not share an adequate amount of their profits.

The lawsuit claimed the UFC’s actions are in violation of US antitrust law.

It took six years for the lawsuit to be certified as a class action case (meaning the plaintiff in this case is a collective of all individuals who believe they have been affected by the claims made by the lawsuit). Since then… not much has happened.

John Nash and Matt Stoller discuss what’s happening now

Now that we are a decade into the UFC antitrust case, it’s fair to ask “what’s taking so long?” Both in regards to the six years to took for the suit to be certified, and the time since that’s been taken (and counting) for the case to go to trial.

To answer that question (and many more) Bloody Elbow’s resident financial investigator John S. Nash spoke with Matt Stoller, the Director of Research at the American Economic Liberties Project; a non-profit organization that advocates for corporate accountability and enforcement of antitrust regulations. Stoller is also the author of Goliath: The Hundred Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy.

Stoller’s work can be followed on his Substack BIG.

He spoke to Nash in a recently released episode of the Hey Not the Face! Podcast which can be found on the Bloody Elbow Podcast Substack.

“First of all, the judges are terrible,” said Stoller when asked flat out why this case has dragged on for so long. “Judges should be ruling on this stuff in six months and it should just be done. It’s just ridiculous [that they haven’t in this case].”

“One of the biggest antitrust cases of all time was the Microsoft case in 1998. It was filed in 1998. It was heard in ’98. It was ruled on in ’98. It took six months to a year. There was investigations going on before that, but it should not take this long and the UFC case isn’t the only one.”

Stoller then referenced a case against Google, brought by the U.S. Federal Government, which started in 2018, was filed in 2020 and is yet to reach the trial stage. His explanation for the delays in both the UFC and Google cases is that Republican judges are “afraid” to certify class action lawsuits.

These judges’ hesitance, Stoller suggests, come because of the efforts made by corporations to prevent themselves from being sued.

“[Big business has] dramatically weakened the ability to certify into classes through all sorts of legal tricks and the net result is this judge, who I do think does want to certify [the Google case] into a class, is first of all overloaded, but is also afraid of being overturned on appeal and so that’s why this stuff takes forever.”

Stoller’s solution for speeding up the process sounds simple, but greatly depends on who is holding the seat of power in the United States.

“Ultimately what we need is for Congress to step in and start to legislate again and to start legislating in lots of different areas and say it should be much easier to certify classes and also just to say that judges have to hear this stuff quickly and rule quickly.”

Stoller then explained how the laws on this issue have been changed over time, by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, to suit Republicans and big business.

Listen to the rest of the conversation here

For this entire conversation between Nash and Stoller on the UFC antitrust lawsuit head to our Bloody Elbow Podcast Substack.

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

Email me at tim@bloodyelbow.com. Nice messages will get a response.

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