The UFC suffered a setback in its effort to overturn the ongoing anti-trust case against it.
A pair of judges with the 9th Circuit Court on Wednesday denied the promotion’s attorneys an appeal request, aimed in part at overturning a Nevada federal judge’s decision to certify a group of fighters suing the UFC as a class, according to a filing obtained by MMA Fighting.
The fighters, led by UFC vets Cung Le, Jon Fitch, Kyle Kingsbury and others, were given class-action status in August, potentially exposing the promotion to greater legal damages in the case aimed at its business practices. The fighters accuse the UFC of suppressing fighter pay by using an anti-competitive scheme to shut out rivals and control the market for elite MMA fighters, among other charges.
Potential legal damages to the UFC have been estimated to be between $800 million to $1.6 billion with 1,200 potential plaintiffs in the period between 2010-2017, when the fighters allege the anti-competitive conduct took place in the first of two anti-trust lawsuits filed against the promotion. A second lawsuit, led by UFC vet Kajan Johnson, covers the period after 2017; that case is currently in the discovery phase.
The UFC has the option to appeal the first case’s final result, which currently faces one more hurdle before going to trial in April, a person with knowledge of the case told MMA Fighting. The promotion has moved to re-open discovery in the first case against it, which was filed in 2014, arguing that more recent changes to its business practices are relevant to the charges that stem from the 2010-2017 time period.