New billion dollar lawsuit could incentivize UFC to settle earlier

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Plaintiff and UFC vet Kajan Johnson also says this lawsuit is to fight for those athletes “who are afraid to speak out.”

As reported earlier, a new class action lawsuit has been filed against the UFC with two more former fighters being named as plaintiffs. The suit is similar to the original antitrust complaint filed almost seven years ago, but this includes new UFC owner Endeavor, and the class period now goes from “July 1, 2017 to present” to include current fighters.

Both plaintiffs named in the suit have since released statements, with Kajan Johnson, a UFC vet and activist, saying this is to affect change for the future of the sport.

“Like Carlos Newton, Cung Le, Nathan Quarry and Jon Fitch before me, I am honored to bring this lawsuit not only on behalf of myself but all those fighters in the proposed bout class who are afraid to speak out against the injustice we have endured,” Johnson said. “I feel obligated to do my part to leave the sport better off for my students and all future mixed martial artists to come.”

CB Dollaway says fighters are the ones who risk their well-being on every bout, and they deserve a bigger cut than the sub 20% revenue share fighters receive.

“We train hard and risk our bodies to succeed in this sport,” Dollaway said in a statement. “Every time we step into that octagon, we leave a piece of ourselves behind. The UFC should have to pay us competitive compensation for our services, just like professional athletes in other sports get paid based on competitive markets.”

The original lawsuit has gone on for almost seven years, and while this new one is also expected to be a lengthy legal battle, a lot more could be on the line for the UFC. According to business expert John Nash, the new class period that includes Endeavor and present day fighters, could entice the UFC to find a quicker resolution.

“By extending the class period to the present day — and possibly — beyond, it might be an additional incentive for the UFC to see the case settled,” Nash opined. “When there was a set window to the class period (ending on June 30, 2017), there was no penalty for continuing the court fight. But now, every day the case continues potentially adds more in damages.”

Lawyer Jason Cruz also gave his thoughts over at MMA Payout:

“This lawsuit secures that all ‘current’ fighters are now part of a potential class. This forces the hand of Zuffa,” Cruz notes. “Certainly, they can go through the process of dismissing Johnson and Dolloway’s lawsuit but we know how much time that may take. The likely outcome at this point is to consolidate both cases into one although we may see some pushback on this issue from Zuffa and maybe Endeavor.”

Based on the damages from the previous period in the original lawsuit, adding four years to that span could potentially add a billion dollars or even more to the total. Things of course will still take a while before anything gets finalized, and a lot can still change in the coming months and years.

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