The MMA world was shocked in mid-December when a lawsuit was filed against the UFC and ZUFFA — the parent company which owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The people named in the documents are two former fighters Jon Fitch and Nate Quarry and one who is technically still under contract, Cung Le. The three are represented by Joseph Saveri Law Firm, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC and Berger & Mongue, P.C.

The suit claims that the “UFC has engaged in an illegal scheme to eliminate competition from would-be rival MMA Promoters by systematically preventing them from gaining access to resources critical to successful MMA Promotions, including by imposing extreme restrictions on UFC Fighters’ ability to fight for would-be rivals during and after their tenure with the UFC. As part of the scheme, the UFC not only controls Fighters’ careers, but also takes and expropriates the rights to their names and likenesses in perpetuity. As a result of this scheme, UFC Fighters are paid a fraction of what they would earn in a competitive marketplace.”

In uSports’ exclusive video interview, Nate Quarry explains his reasons for filing the suit for the first time.  “The lawsuit really is about fairness in the marketplace,” he told uSports. “You have this industry giant who monopolized the entire sport, signing men and women, who have no other options, to an unbending uncuttable contract. It controls them, their future and their likeness rights. They could make t-shirts of UFC fighters that passed away because they want to.”

The suit alleges the UFC has monopolized the marketplace: basically, athletes are forced to either sign with the company under their terms or try the competitive market, which is severely limited compared to the MMA giant. These contracts limit their ability to promote their own name, thus directly affecting the amount of money they can earn.

Though the UFC pays fighters based on their draw, Quarry says, the public doesn’t really know the numbers because the company refuses to release them. “They never release the pay-per-view numbers or profits,” he told uSports. “There was a time before when people were talking about how little money the UFC was paying their fighters and it is pretty easy to see, fighters get around ten percent of the money that’s brought in. UFC says, ‘no they don’t, they get more.’ Well show us the proof. ‘No we don’t have to.’ Now they are gonna have to.”

To date, the UFC has only fired back with their pockets. In a brief excerpt from a statement released today, ZUFFA wrote, “We have built a popular business from modest beginnings by meeting the needs of fans and fighters. Millions of people have watched our bouts, we have instituted leading health and safety measures for our athletes, and fighters are free to negotiate contract terms. We will stand up against the plaintiffs in this litigation every step of the way, and have engaged attorneys from Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP with a depth of experience in antitrust issues.” This firm in question is a powerhouse, having represented some major cases like United States v. Microsoft and Bush v. Gore.

Needless to say, this is turning into the sports legal battle of the century: which makes one wonder why there has not been more media coverage? Quarry believes that is because of UFC’s stranglehold on media outlets. “Eight years ago, or something like that, when the media was doing good coverage of the UFC and of their decisions and of their fights and of the problems, Daniel White pulled every credential from every media outlet for an entire UFC pay-per-view. And that attitude still is prevalent today, I had an interview lined up a week and half ago. [The reporter] messages me later, ‘Sorry, I spoke to my producer, he is worried the UFC will pull our credentials for an upcoming fight if we cover your story.’ Yeah that sounds about right.”

It looks like both are in it for the long haul, with neither side showing any signs of quitting. If what Nate Quarry was saying is right, this lawsuit has the potential to severely change the MMA playing field.  uSports is certainly interested in covering ever aspect of what could be a monumental case. If you want to learn more about the lawsuit or hear in its entirety what Nate Quarry has to say, watch the exclusive interview above, and our continued in-depth coverage of the case.

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