UFC to pay $335 million to settle fighters’ wage-fixing claims

By Thomson Reuters Mar 20, 2024 | 1:20 PM

By Mike Scarcella

(Reuters) – Ultimate Fighting Championship said on Wednesday that it has agreed to pay $335 million to settle class action lawsuits claiming it artificially suppressed wages of martial arts fighters and owed them potentially more than $1 billion.

UFC parent TKO Group Holdings disclosed the settlement in a Wednesday filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. TKO is part of Endeavor Group.

UFC in a statement said the proposed settlement covers all pending claims against the promoter, “bringing litigation to a close and benefiting all parties.” The organization has denied suppressing wages.

The lawsuits, first filed in 2015, alleged UFC abused its market power to acquire or block rival promoters and used exclusive contracts to keep fighters within the UFC. The fighters alleged the UFC suppressed their bout compensation.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs were expected to ask U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware in Las Vegas for preliminary approval of the deal in the coming weeks.

The plaintiffs had no immediate comment on the proposed settlement, which would avert a trial scheduled for April 15.

Boulware in August approved a class of fighters who competed in live professional UFC-promoted bouts in the U.S. between December 2010 and June 2017.

A U.S. appeals court declined to review Boulware’s class certification order in November. UFC had argued that the order was based on erroneous claims that fighter compensation did not rise as fast as UFC’s revenue.

The cases are Le v. Zuffa LLC, U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, No. 2:15-cv-1045-RFB-BNW and Johnson v. Zuffa, same court, No. 2:21-cv-1189-RFB-BNW.

(Reporting by Mike Scarcella; Editing by David Bario and Tomasz Janowski)