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Thread: UFC lawsuits and scandals

  1. #1
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    UFC lawsuits and scandals

    MArk Cuban sues UFC

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mma/news?slu...yhoo&type=lgns

    The likely promoter of a potential Randy Couture vs. Fedor Emelianenko match was revealed last week when Mark Cuban's HDNet Fights filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Dallas against Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

    The suit is an attempt to get a court ruling on when Couture's contract expires and when he can fight for Cuban, who is best known as the billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, or another non-UFC promoter.

    The suit comes on the heels of Zuffa’s attempt through the Nevada courts to get an injunction to bar Couture from appearing on rival MMA shows, citing a non-compete clause in Couture's employment contract. Couture’s employment contract is separate from the fighting contract, which is the basis for Cuban’s suit.

    "Obviously we're going to address the lawsuit that was filed in Dallas, Texas, in a timely and very direct fashion," said Zuffa attorney Don Campbell. "Our point is that Couture is still obligated to the requirements of the terms of the contract, which are unambiguous."

    Cuban’s HDNet, a television station available in only a small percentage of U.S. homes, has heavily focused on building around MMA programming. Cuban previously made headlines by engaging in talks with Floyd Mayweather Jr., the pound-for-pound boxing king, about potential participation in MMA.

    A Couture-Emelianenko match would likely have more business potential on pay-per-view than any MMA fight not promoted by the UFC. Not only would it possibly put another promotion on the map as a genuine, significant rival to UFC, something many groups have tried to be but none have really succeeded at, but it would answer probably the most important question regarding the future of the sport:

    Is MMA popular, or just the UFC?

    UFC has run numerous pay-per-view cards that have drawn from 600,000-1.05 million buys. No non-UFC promotion has ever done more than 75,000 buys.

    Emelianenko, in particular, has been a pay-per-view flop in North America as a headliner for Pride and Bodog Fight. The Russian fighter, who was long considered the world’s pound-for-pound best, did an anemic 13,000 buys for his lone 2007 match, against Matt Lindland.

    Couture topped 500,000 buys on both of his 2007 UFC matches. A match with Emelianenko will likely show the upper limits of what the best fight possible, without UFC backing, could draw on pay-per-view.

    The 44-year old Couture signed a four-fight, 18-month contract, on January 19, 2007, with UFC. This included a $500,000 signing bonus, half of which was paid upon the signing of the contract and the other half upon the completion of the first fight, the March 2 match where he defeated Tim Sylvia to win the UFC heavyweight title in Columbus, Ohio.

    Between all monies, which included guarantees and a sliding percentage of pay-per-view revenue, as well as a second employment contract, Couture earned about $3 million in his two fights during 2007, along with some other outside work with the company. This includes money from a secondary contract as a company employee, paying him $200,000 per year, which included a one-year non-compete provision.

    On the second contract, it appears both sides agree that when Couture quit the company on Oct. 11, he couldn't work for a rival promotion until that date this year.

    But the fight contract is what is under dispute in the lawsuit filed by Cuban's company. Couture is claiming when the 18-month period expires on July 19, the contract is over, although he has done interviews in the past stating he'll honor the non-compete from the employment contract and feels he can fight again in October.

    Zuffa is claiming that Couture didn't fulfill his contract, and that he owes them two more fights. There is a specific clause in the contract that stated in the event Couture retired, the 18-month time frame is frozen in that he's still bound to the company to fulfill the time frame if he decides to fight again. Couture has never used the term retirement, but used the term resignation. UFC president Dana White has stated that he believes you can't just resign in the middle of a valid contract, and has publicly offered him title defenses.

    Couture is the currently recognized UFC heavyweight champion, although he personally claims he has not been champion since he quit the company. Zuffa has since created an interim heavyweight championship, which Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira won on Feb. 2 in Las Vegas in a match with Sylvia. Immediately after the match, White talked of trying to get Couture back for a match with Nogueira. Couture has been adamant that he is done with UFC unless UFC agrees to do a co-promotion with the M-1 Global promotion, which owns Emelianenko's contract.

    White last year attempted to sign Emelianenko, an offer which included a seven-figure signing bonus and $1.5 million per fight, but the Russian's management turned it down, claiming it was too restrictive. Couture then announced he was leaving UFC, citing his goal was to fight Emelianenko to determine who was the top heavyweight in the world. Ironically, Couture felt disrespected by those terms, because Emelianenko's offered UFC guarantee was much higher than his, and Couture helped build the company and was, at the time of his resignation, the company's most popular fighter.

    Couture was on Cuban's Inside MMA TV show on HDNet on Friday night, where both the lawsuit filed by HDNet Fights and UFC's attempt to file an injunction against Couture appearing for rival groups were discussed.

    He said the fight with Emelianenko was the one the public wants to see and that the sport has to evolve to where the top fighters face each other, regardless of promotional affiliation. He noted that in boxing the rival promotions work together to promote major fights.

    Emelianenko, who is 27-1, is generally considered the best heavyweight MMA fighter. Until recently, he was ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound in the Yahoo! Sports rankings, a ranking he would likely have retained if he had fought even one match against top heavyweight competition in 2007.

    He was the champion of the Pride organization when it was sold to Zuffa last year, and then subsequently was folded. But to some, his stock as the true king and best fighter has dropped because he hasn't faced a legitimate top contender since an August 28, 2005, match in Japan against Mirko Cro Cop. Cro Cop, who was just dropped from his contract by UFC after consecutive losses to Gabriel Gonzaga and Cheick Kongo, is being talked about in Japan as an opponent for Emelianenko in a proposed summer match.

    Zuffa sued Couture and then filed an injunction against him, claiming he has violated the non-compete clause by appearing on rival promotion's television shows to do interviews, in specific shows on Cuban's HDNet.

    They also are claiming it's a violation because the International Fight League has a new team for the 2008 season called Team Xtreme Couture, featuring fighters from his Las Vegas gym. Couture's argument is that the gym, which bears his name, is separate from himself, and that he is not the coach of the team.

    However, the IFL did put a photo of Couture on its web site, briefly, to promote its Feb. 29 show in Las Vegas where Team Xtreme Couture debuts.

    The photo was quickly taken down, but Zuffa lawyers captured a screen image and then filed for an injunction to ban Couture from having anything to do with any rival shows.

    The request for an injunction, filed in Las Vegas, stated, "If Couture is permitted to terminate his employment and promptly take his well-known name and likeness during the restricted period to one, or more, of Zuffa's competitors so that it can be used to promote upcoming events in other MMA leagues, the harm to Zuffa's business goodwill cannot be calculated."

    It has been common knowledge and never a source of conflict in the past when fighters under contract to one organization corner fighters on different shows. Couture has seconded fighters from his gym on shows all over the world, both during his tenure with Zuffa and since his resignation. He was planning on seconding the fighters from his gym at the IFL show, which the injunction is attempting to prevent.
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    wow, i didn't realized that the ufc dropped cro cop. i'm not surprised he has had a lackluster showing in the ufc but still, i was always hopeful that he would rebound.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceSteveRoy View Post
    wow, i didn't realized that the ufc dropped cro cop. i'm not surprised he has had a lackluster showing in the ufc but still, i was always hopeful that he would rebound.
    One wonders about his performances...
    One wonders what he will do now that he is "free" of the UFC...
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    Prob back to his real day job bro.... member of Croatian Paliment

    The only one there that doesnt need H2H body guards at least LOL.
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    Crocop's signed for the K-1 heroes/son of Pride amalgum "Dream" which was unveiled in Tokyo last week.
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    I'm changing the title of this thread from " MArk Cuban sues UFC" to "UFC lawsuits". If anyone can find any more threads related to this topic here, let me know and I'll merge.

    This is following up on the posts in the How-will-Cung-Le-do-in-the-Twilight-of-his-career thread.

    Fighters claim UFC restricts earnings
    Updated: December 16, 2014, 6:18 PM ET
    By John Barr | ESPN.com

    SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A group of current and former mixed martial arts fighters is suing the company that owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship in what could evolve into a class-action antitrust lawsuit involving hundreds of fighters, according to one of the attorneys involved.

    The lawsuit, the culmination of months of rumors about pending legal action, was filed against Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the UFC, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. It has three named plaintiffs: current UFC middleweight Cung Le and former UFC fighters Jon Fitch and Nathan Quarry.


    Victor Fraile/Getty Images
    Cung Le is the only active UFC fighter named in the lawsuit filing. He last fought on Aug. 23 in China.

    It accuses the UFC of being a monopoly that forces out rival promotions and limits fighter earnings.

    Rob Maysey, a Phoenix-based attorney and longtime critic of what he describes as the "restrictive" labor practices of the UFC, says he has tried for years to warn the world's largest promoter of MMA competitions about the prospect of an antitrust case.

    "I called [the UFC] in 2006 and said, 'You have a choice.' I said, 'You guys are going to recognize a fighters' association or you're going to face an antitrust case," Maysey told "Outside the Lines" on Tuesday.

    "They [the UFC] have become the only game in town and locked down the entire sport. ... At its heart, this lawsuit is about fundamental fairness. The world-class athletes that comprise the UFC are making enormous sacrifices and taking huge risks. It is a basic right that these athletes enjoy the fruits of their labors."

    The lawsuit alleges that the UFC prevents fighters from working with other MMA promoters, profiting from individual marketing deals and signing with outside sponsors, all monopolistic practices that suppress fighters' incomes, according to the lawsuit.

    "The antitrust laws of the United States were designed to prevent any company from dominating a market, artificially stifling competition and hoarding supercompetitive profits. That is exactly what happened here," Maysey said.

    "They [the UFC] control our likeness," said Le, the only fighter currently under contract with the UFC to be listed as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. "They control our career, and that's a choice we as fighters should have. And we don't have that choice.

    "I'm going to represent all the fighters that are scared to take a step up."

    The Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition opened an anti-trust investigation on Zuffa after the purchase of Strikeforce in 2011. The FTC closed that investigation in January 2012 but maintained the right to reopen at any time.

    Le has clashed with UFC management in recent months over a disputed drug test after his August fight in Macau. He was initially suspended for a year after testing positive for elevated levels of human growth hormone, but in October that suspension was overturned when the UFC determined that the initial test results were not reliable.

    After nearly drowning in $44 million of debt as recently as 2005, according to CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, the UFC today is widely believed by industry insiders to be worth north of $1 billion.

    The lawsuit refers to the Las Vegas-based company as a $2 billion outfit.

    OTL on UFC pay

    In June 2012, ESPN's "Outside the Lines" took an in-depth look at the issue of fighter pay. Look back at the coverage from then. Story

    "The UFC is aware of the action filed today but has not been served, nor has it had the opportunity to review the document," a UFC spokesperson said in a statement. "The UFC will vigorously defend itself and its business practices."

    Maysey is a member of one of five law firms that have joined forces in what could eventually be certified by the court as a class-action lawsuit.

    "All UFC fighters are paid a mere fraction of what they would make in a competitive market," said Benjamin Brown, another of the plaintiffs' attorneys.

    "Rather than earning paydays comparable to boxers -- a sport with many natural parallels -- MMA fighters go substantially undercompensated despite the punishing nature of their profession," Brown added.

    Litigation will be long and costly. Maysey pointed out that antitrust cases of this magnitude typically last three to five years and can cost $3-5 million.

    "We're prepared for a very long and tumultuous fight," said Quarry, who retired in 2010 with a 12-4 record, including an appearance on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series in 2005.

    "We have confidence we're in the right."
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    I haven't talked to Cung in a while...

    ... I should. But even if I did, being press, I doubt I could share anything.

    Zuffa engages heavyweight antitrust firm in defense against fighter lawsuit
    By Dave Doyle  @davedoylemma on Dec 30 2014, 7:05p 111


    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Two weeks after the announcement of a class-action lawsuit against Zuffa LLC, parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the company announced it has engaged a heavyweight in antitrust litigation in defense against the legal action.

    New York-based firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP will represent Zuffa in the case filed on behalf of fighters Cung Le, Jon Fitch, and Nate Quarry on Dec. 16 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

    Lead litigator Bill Isaacson expressed confidence. "The antitrust laws have long favored companies that create new products and services that consumers want," Isaacson stated. "That is exactly what the UFC has done here through its long and substantial investment in building a popular sport."

    Since the initial lawsuit filing, former UFC fighters Pablo Garza, Dennis Hallman, Javier Vazquez, and Brandon Vera have been added to the suit.

    "We have built a popular business from modest beginnings by meeting the needs of fans and fighters," Zuffa stated. "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 are proud of the company we have built, confident in our legal position, and intend to prevail in this lawsuit."

    Boies, Schiller & Flexner's credentials in the antitrust sphere include Apple's successful defense against a major class-action lawsuit. More recently, they successfully represented plaintiff Ed O'Bannon in the former UCLA basketball star's landmark case against the NCAA. The firm also earned client American Express a $4 billion settlement in a case against competitors such as Visa and Mastercard. It was also involved in United States v. Microsoft and Bush v. Gore.
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    Now I added "and scandals" to the title of this thread

    'Scandals' is my 'go to' search word when posting such news, even though this isn't particularly scandalous.

    1 day ago

    Strange times for the UFC

    To add to craziness, Irish man Dave Allen has left the UFC
    By Ben Kiely

    It's been a strange few hours for the Irish contingent in the UFC.

    First of all, we were rocked by the news that Jose Aldo may be forced to withdraw from his title fight against Conor McGregor at UFC 189 after fracturing his rib.

    Now, Irish man Dave Allen has suddenly left the UFC just six months into his tenure as senior vice president and general manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa for the promotion.

    Dubliner Allen only joined the company in December 2013, as the then head of EMEA operations Garry Cook’s number two. He was subsequently promoted after Garry Cook was appointed chief global brand officer last year.

    However,Fighters Only Magazine are reporting that Allen stepped down from the role on Wednesday, despite playing a pivotal role in the UFC's growth in Europe.

    Allen was behind the second biggest in UFC history, UFC on fox 14 in Stockholm in January. He also managed the the first UFC women’s world title fight on European soil, at UFC Fight Night 69 in Berlin last weekend. He was instrumental the UFC's first ever Poland-based event in April.

    The UFC are expected to make an announcement regarding a possible successor soon.
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    ttt 4 2018!

    Surprised we don't have anything on this antitrust lawsuit already. It's been kept quiet.

    UFC Files for Summary Judgment in Class-Action Antitrust Lawsuit
    Paul Gift
    Contributor
    Jul 31, 2018, 05:36am 330 views #SportsMoney

    The ongoing antitrust lawsuit against the UFC moved into the summary judgment stage yesterday with the MMA promotion filing paperwork in Las Vegas federal court claiming no reasonable jury could return a verdict for the former fighters leading the class-action case.


    The UFC filed a motion for summary judgment on Monday in a move that could possibly keep its antitrust case from going to trial. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

    Originally filed in December 2014, Plaintiffs claim the UFC used an anticompetitive scheme of long-term exclusive fighter contracts, coercion, and acquisitions of rival MMA promoters to establish and maintain dominance in the MMA industry and suppress fighter compensation. After three-and-a-half years of pleadings, interrogatories, affidavits, over 50 depositions, 900 pages of expert reports, 3.2 million pages of UFC documents, and 64,000 pages of Plaintiff documents produced, the UFC believes “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact” and it should be entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

    The plaintiff fighters will surely have a different take on the matter and will express their opposing views in September. Yesterday was the UFC’s turn to make its case that the lawsuit doesn’t even merit a trial.

    Early in the filing, the UFC noted that the Plaintiffs’ initial theory of monopoly and monopsony power in MMA as “mutually reinforcing” appears to have changed, stating “After two years of discovery, in seeking class certification, Plaintiffs abandoned their monopolization theory, alleging a ‘Scheme’ that makes no mention of [UFC’s] alleged monopolization of the market for promotion of live Elite Professional MMA Fighter bouts.”

    The idea that elite, professional MMA was a relevant output market to be monopolized when the UFC competes for consumers’ entertainment dollars (usually) on a Saturday night was always the weakest part of the case, so while it wouldn’t seem too surprising for Plaintiffs to abandon it, it could cause problems from a consumer welfare standard perspective. The UFC appeared to notice this as well by arguing that a monopsonization theory on its own “runs contrary to accepted antitrust principles.” During class certification, Plaintiffs seemed to propose a new theory of consumer harm via reduced quality; i.e., that undercompensated fighters wouldn’t be able to promote themselves as well or enhance their training.

    In addressing direct evidence of monopsony power, the UFC claimed it paid its fighters “progressively more” during the class period and Plaintiffs never established that its fighters were underpaid. Previous filings have appeared to show no damages from the UFC’s alleged conduct when fighter wage levels are examined. It’s with wage share (the percent of event revenue paid as fighter compensation) that Plaintiffs argue the UFC suppressed fighter pay. The UFC claims “no case supports this view and the theory fails as a matter of law because it disregards the carefully crafted limits of antitrust law that do not allow courts to act as ‘central planners.’”

    Another part of Plaintiffs case is the allegation that the UFC foreclosed rival MMA promoters through the use of long-term, exclusive fighter contracts. In what could be a key piece of evidence, the UFC noted that “every MMA promoter who has testified" in the case said they had access to top fighters. “There is no testimony or document that shows that [UFC’s] competitors have insufficient access to top athletes to compete.”

    I’ve previously noted that a similar lack of evidence appeared to be a key element last year when boxing manager Al Haymon was granted a summary judgment win against promoter Golden Boy Promotion’s antitrust claims. In that case, the judge specifically mentioned that not one boxer testified to feeling coerced or prevented from selecting the promoter of his choice.

    Regarding other MMA promoters, Bellator’s recent nine-figure distribution deal with streaming service DAZN made it into the UFC’s filing. In addition to mentioning how Bellator President Scott Coker said the promotion “has steadfastly grown its market,” a $100+ million distribution deal may help paint a picture of rival promoters not exactly being foreclosed. And in terms of fighter mobility, the UFC cited 70 fighters from 2011-2016 competing for Bellator after being in the UFC while 72 fighters competed for the UFC after being in Bellator.

    The UFC also pointed out that Singapore-based One Championship’s valuation is “approaching $1 billion” and Golden Boy Promotions is set to enter the MMA market with its first event on pay-per-view later this year.

    To complete its attack on Plaintiffs’ monopsony theory, the UFC addressed output restriction. If a company obtains and exerts monopsony power in a relevant market, economic theory suggests its output should decline.

    You’d be hard pressed to find an MMA fan these days complaining of too few events. Oversaturation is instead a consistent theme among MMA pundits. The UFC seized on Plaintiffs’ claim that it “maintains an excess supply of athletes” and argued they offered no evidence of reduced purchases of athlete services. Essentially, the UFC is citing a factual record that fighter pay and MMA output have increased over time while a truly monopsonized market should’ve seen both decline.

    If the UFC doesn’t win outright on summary judgment, three areas highly likely to be tossed are Plaintiffs foreclosure claims with regard to venues, sponsors, and television broadcasters. Originally included as part of Plaintiffs’ “monopoly broth” theory of a cumulative foreclosure effect – when combined with long-term, exclusive fighter contracts – the UFC believes Plaintiffs expert witnesses didn’t even analyze the availability of suitable venues, sponsors, and television broadcasters for rival MMA promoters. Myself and others such as former FTC commissioner Joshua Wright have been incredibly skeptical of these claims, and in yesterday’s filing, the UFC cited numerous examples of other MMA promoters having access to these areas.

    The UFC’s motion contained 112 exhibits encompassing everything from expert reports to deposition transcripts to e-mails to presentations and charts. Check back in at Forbes later this week for a more in-depth review of any new information gleaned from these documents.

    A request for comment to the UFC was not returned as of this writing and UFC attorneys declined to provide a comment.
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    monopolization and monopsonization

    Sep 24, 2018, 08:15am
    UFC Lawsuit: Plaintiffs Oppose Summary Judgment, Make Final Pitch For Trial
    Paul Gift
    Contributor

    The group of former fighters suing the UFC for alleged monopolization and monopsonization in the MMA industry submitted their final written arguments to the judge on Friday in an attempt to prevent the UFC from obtaining a summary judgment win and force the class-action antitrust lawsuit to trial, likely next year.


    Jon Fitch and five other plaintiffs submitted their opposition to the UFC's motion for summary judgment in Las Vegas federal court on Friday. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    In a heavily redacted opposition to the UFC’s previously filed motion for summary judgment, the plaintiffs argued their case to Las Vegas federal court Judge Richard Boulware.

    The record shows: (1) [UFC] had monopoly and monopsony power as the dominant MMA promoter—that is, [UFC] was the only promoter that could sell “major league” live MMA events broadcast in North America and the only promoter that could hire MMA fighters to compete in “major league” MMA events; (2) [UFC] willfully acquired and maintained monopoly and monopsony power through exclusionary conduct, including locking Fighters into long-term, exclusive contracts, coercing Fighters to enter and extend those Exclusive Contracts, and acquiring other MMA promoters that threatened the UFC’s dominance; and (3) [UFC] used its monopsony power to suppress the compensation it paid its Fighters below competitive levels (and its monopoly power to decrease the supply and inflate the prices of MMA events ).
    In other words, we’re finally getting to the meat-and-potatoes of this case: Did the UFC maintain and enhance its economic power and put rival MMA promoters at a significant competitive disadvantage through its use of long-term, exclusive fighter contracts?

    The other (and much weaker) claims that the UFC prevented competing MMA promoters from accessing critical sponsors, television networks, and venue space – which I’ve affectionately referred to as “The Carlos Newton” – finally appear to have met their demise. Plaintiffs’ focus throughout Friday’s filing is the claim that the UFC deprived competitors “of a critical mass of marquee Fighters, rendering them ‘minor leagues.’”

    If Judge Boulware determines that there are no genuine issues of material fact, then the UFC could walk away with an early win just as manager Al Haymon did last year in boxing’s big antitrust case. According to the filing, plaintiffs believe at least two disputed issues are in play: (1) The UFC’s alleged assumption that control of top-ranked fighters matters the same for a promoter’s market power as control of fighters “competing at the margins of the sport” and (2) claims the UFC faces competition from other MMA promoters when it has allegedly admitted to being the “major league” of MMA.

    The filing is chock full of financial details, deposition quotes, text messages and e-mails, virtually all of which were redacted, leaving readers with a small taste of many of the plaintiffs’ arguments, but nowhere near a precise understanding. For example, in referencing the UFC’s 2014 match of restricted free agent Gilbert Melendez’s contract offer from Bellator, plaintiffs write, “[UFC’s] executives acknowledge the importance of blocking other promoters' access to top Fighters to maintaining its dominance. In February 2014, for example, after Lorenzo Fertitta exercised a provision of [UFC’s] Exclusive Contracts to prevent top Fighter Gilbert Melendez from defecting to Bellator, Fertitta wrote to Dana White: ‘[Redacted]’.”

    Plaintiffs repeatedly quote from depositions and documents that essentially describe an economic network effect that exits in many sports leagues (e.g., “Fighters ‘generally have an interest in competing against the best fighters’ and customers ‘like that too’ because putting ‘good fighters against each other’ creates ‘more energy.’”) and appear to argue that competing MMA promoters would need a critical mass of top fighters to overcome this network effect, at least in part because the UFC refuses to co-promote with other promotions.

    Plaintiffs also home in on particular alleged UFC strategies such as renegotiating before the end of a fighter’s contract “to prevent the Fighters from ever becoming free agents,” unfavorable placement on fight cards and not giving title shots unless fighters were “locked-up long-term.” The effect of these and other tactics, plaintiffs argue, is to make UFC exclusive contracts “effectively perpetual.”
    continued next post
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    Continued from previous post


    Critical Mass

    An interesting portion of the filing was the plaintiffs’ argument that the UFC’s alleged scheme prevented competing MMA promoters from accessing a key input: A “critical mass” of top fighters. The actual sworn testimony of those other MMA promoters on this subject could be pivotal, an issue I’ve previously addressed.

    In the publicly available and un-redacted portion of their depositions, it doesn’t appear that any of the other MMA promoters testified to a meaningful foreclosure effect from the UFC’s exclusive contracts. If anything, the testimony of former IFL co-founder Kurt Otto came the closest. He references not being able to “get” fighters who are “locked up in a contract” in his key quote. But he then immediately transitions into talent discovery, where fighters are presumably not locked up by any major promotions. “So I have to go all the way down to the gym level and go find a new gym rat that has talent and build them up and start from scratch. So, if you buy all the talent, your chances of finding Conor McGregor are slim to none; this one is out of town.”

    While not exactly a “new gym rat,” Conor McGregor was notoriously (no pun intended) available for other MMA promoters to sign just 5 ½ years ago coming out of Cage Warriors in Europe.

    Another issue for the plaintiffs is that other current or former promoters have been forceful in their testimony that the UFC has not hindered their ability to compete. To combat this potentially problematic testimony, plaintiffs note in their filing, “[UFC’s] citation to certain promoters’ boasts that the UFC had not affected their ability to sign Fighters, are not credible and are disputed.”

    Plaintiffs question the credibility of Jeff Aronson (Titan FC) and Shannon Knapp (Invicta FC) for having allegedly received “substantial revenue” from the UFC and cite a 2008 media quote from White about Elite XC as a “farm league” (a statement White did not disagree with in his deposition).

    Yet two pages later in White’s deposition, he responded, “Should I said I’m horrified and terrified of all this competition?” when asked about a media quote in which he referred to IFL, Bodog, and EliteXC as “feeder leagues.”

    White also testified that his job as a fight promoter is “to make you not take your wife out on Saturday night, not go to a movie, or whatever else you might want to do on Saturday night. My job is to make you stay home and watch the UFC,” implicitly acknowledging potential competitive alternatives to the UFC in the output market.

    Yet at other points in his deposition excerpt, White made statements upon which plaintiffs’ attorneys were quick to pounce. “Yeah, no. We’re – we’re not in competition with boxing” was one such example.

    Expert Analyses

    When it comes to the alleged anticompetitive effects of the UFC’s business strategies, plaintiffs hang their hat on an impact regression by expert witness Dr. Hal Singer which purportedly shows a negative correlation between the UFC’s foreclosure share (percent of MMA fighters under exclusive UFC contracts) and its wage share (fighter compensation as a percentage of event revenues).

    While this analysis has been highly disputed and subject to multiple rounds of expert witness reports, Judge Boulware could decide the reliability of Singer’s work is an issue for trial or he could side with the UFC’s arguments in its Daubert motion to exclude Singer’s testimony and deal a crippling blow to the plaintiffs case.

    At present, many portions of the filing are difficult to critique due to the many redactions. For example, while the UFC claims Singer didn’t perform a SSNDP test as part of his relevant input market analysis, the plaintiffs claim he did. And while the UFC claims it only raised PPV prices by $5 between 2010 (really, 2008) and 2015 (excluding the UFC 168 rematch of Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva which had a one-off higher price), plaintiffs appear to incorporate an increasing UFC revenue share from PPV distributors (effectively a lower price from its suppliers of distribution services) and reach an entirely different conclusion. They then cite redacted internal UFC documents and Deutsche Bank deposition testimony that say, well, something that may or may not have been interesting.

    Output Reduction

    The one area where redactions don’t cause much of a problem are the plaintiffs’ seemingly incredible claims of MMA output reduction due to the UFC’s conduct. They note that the UFC restricted its PPV output by (what other filings appear to describe as) a decline from 15 PPV events in 2010 to 13 in 2015. But annual UFC PPVs took off in 2006 (from six in 2005 to 10 in 2006) and began to level off at 12-13 around 2008, with two higher years in 2010 and 2011 before the explosion of non-PPV shows with the FOX deal in 2012 and Fight Pass in 2014. Had 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, etc. been the base year, UFC PPV output easily would’ve been flat or increasing.

    To analyze the overall output of MMA events, Singer purportedly ran a regression on the number of live MMA events from 2001 to 2010 and extended the resulting trend line for 2011 on. UFC expert witness Robert Topel attacks this as assuming “that this growth would persist beyond 2010 is analogous to assuming children grow as much between their tenth and twentieth birthdays as between birth and their tenth birthdays” and yet he doesn’t even mention the substantial difference in the number of states in which MMA was legalized and sanctioned over that same 10-year window (in broad terms it went from very few in 2001 to a lot in 2010). The UFC under Zuffa didn’t even hold a domestic event outside of the five states of Nevada, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida and Louisiana until 2006 when California finally legalized the sport of MMA. So if the purported statistical structure is true, this may well be a situation where an expert witness’s number crunching is detached from an industry’s reality.

    As presently scheduled, the UFC will submit its final reply on November 2nd and then we wait for word on when Judge Boulware will hold a hearing. Outstanding issues on which he’s yet to decide are the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and the UFC’s Daubert motions on three plaintiff expert witnesses (Hal Singer, Andrew Zimbalist and Guy Davis) and its summary judgment motions on Nate Quarry individually and for the entire case.

    Should the class be certified and the plaintiffs survive the UFC’s Daubert and summary judgment challenges, it will move to the trial phase, where hopefully the annoying redactions finally start to disappear.

    I am an associate professor of economics at Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business, an ABC-certified referee and judge for the California Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization (CAMO), and former provider of expert witness support in antitrust litigation.
    Follow me on Twitter @MMAanalytics.
    monopsonization - had to look that one up.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  13. #13
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    Slightly OT

    A former UFC fighter, but woah.....

    Former MMA Fighter Turned Jeffrey Epstein Bodyguard Igor Zinoviev Gives Frightened Interview After Billionaire's Death
    By JOHN NEWBY - August 17, 2019 04:49 pm EDT

    Igor Zinoviev isn't as well known to modern Mixed Martial Arts fans due to his career ending in 1998, long before the sport broke through to the mainstream. However, he has a different reason for being known by the general populace. Following his loss to Frank Shamrock at UFC 16, Zinoviev spent some time working for Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and convicted sex trafficker who recently died in prison.

    While the medical examiner ruled the cause of death as suicide, there are multiple rumors swirling about other factors playing a role in his death. As someone who spent time as Epstein's bodyguard, trainer, and driver, Zinoviev was asked about his previous employer during a phone interview with New York Magazine. The former UFC fighter had originally conducted an interview with M.L. Nestel back in 2015, and the writer went back to him to clarify some previous comments. What followed was an interaction that painted Zinoviev as a very nervous figure.

    For example, there was one interaction in which Nestel asked Zinoviev about his previous comments concerning potential police corruption and Epstein being warned every time law enforcement options were on the way to his house. When asked about the previous comments, the fighter-turned-bodyguard was unwillingly to divulge specific details and kept mentioning getting in trouble.

    I get that. But you and I have a history at this point. One thing you told me, for instance — okay, one thing you told me is he got a heads up when the authorities were going to come to his house the night before.

    Listen, what you say is between you and me —

    You told me he would get phone calls the night before and eight o’clock the police are going to come. He would get a heads up from local police.

    [Silence.]

    You told me that, Igor. Want me to read the quote?

    Well, you can read whatever you want right now. Don’t just — you can put yourself in big trouble.
    During other portions of this discussion, Zinoviev said that he thought "somebody helped him to do that [kill himself]." When pressed for more information, he said that he had to go and warned Nestel to be careful. In fact, he warned Nestel to be careful multiple times and told him to let that go.

    Finally, when asked if he had ever been contacted by anyone in the government or the FBI, Zinoviev responded with a long pause before simply saying, "Um. Great talking to you. Seriously. We talk later." If this answer is any indication, Zinoviev is very concerned about outside sources discovering this interview, as well as the potential safety of himself and Nestel.

    The entire conversation could ultimately be innocent enough, but Nestel mentioned during the articles opening sentences that Zinoviev has been avoiding reporters since Epstein's arrest. Additionally, he was described as very nervous about saying anything to the reporter. That paints a troubling picture of the entire situation and lends more credence to the potential of outside sources aiding Epstein in his suicide attempt.
    Gene Ching
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  14. #14
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    Would Trump get booed at a golf championship?

    TRUMP BEING BOOED AT UFC 244 EVENT A SURPRISE, SAYS POLITICAL SCIENTIST: 'THIS SHOULD BE HIS CROWD'
    BY TAREQ HADDAD ON 11/3/19 AT 5:16 AM EST

    President Donald Trump received heavy booing on Saturday night as he attended an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event in New York City.

    Though some cheered upon the president's arrival into Madison Square Garden for UFC 244—who entered alongside his two sons, some high-ranking Republicans, UFC President Dana White and a handful of Secret Service agents—boos dominated from the sell-out crowd, according to videos shared on social media.

    A small anti-Trump protest was also staged outside the arena—New York's most storied venue that lies in the heart of the city that Trump had previously called his home.

    A number of people tweeted footage of the booing and added their reactions to the jeering.

    Ian Bremmer, a political scientist who founded the Eurasia Group, said: "Honestly surprised to see Trump booed at Ultimate Fighting Championship. This should be his crowd."

    Another Twitter user, Keating Thomas, said: "Trump got booed at a UFC match? That's like if Bernie [Sanders] got booed at a vegan bakery in Brooklyn."

    ian bremmer

    @ianbremmer
    Honestly surprised to see Trump booed at Ultimate Fighting Championship. This should be his crowd.

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    Keating Thomas

    @keatingthomas
    Trump got booed at a UFC match? That’s like if Bernie got booed at vegan bakery in Brooklyn.

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    It is the second time within a week the president was booed while attending a sporting event after also receiving a raucous reaction from baseball fans in game 5 of the World Series in Washington D.C.

    Trump retweeted different footage of his entrance into UFC 244 which said his arrival had a "positive reaction," but was filmed so close to speakers that blared AC/DC's rock song "Back In Black" that it was difficult to distinguish whether the noise was boos or cheers.

    Eric Trump also tweeted to say that the crowd was chanting "Donald Trump, Donald Trump... USA, USA," but this was shared with an image as opposed to a video. Signs reading "Remove Trump" and "Impeach Trump" could also be seen in the crowd.

    Tara LaRosa

    @TaraLaRosa
    #NEW: Pres. Trump arrives at Madison Square Garden to a positive reaction from the crowd ahead of #UFC244 .

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    Despite the negative reaction of fans, White of the UFC stood by Trump and said it was a big moment for the sport.

    "It's amazing," he said in a press conference after the event. "If you had asked me ten years ago, I'd tell you the sport's going to do this and do that, but like baseball games for [George W.] Bush or like the NBA for [Barack] Obama and now the UFC has a president that attended one of the events. It's like one of the big deals. It's like we made it."

    White was instrumental in developing the sport from being a humble sideshow to boxing to growing it into a multi-million-dollar company that boasts deals with ESPN and produces household names such as Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.

    The sport also faced numerous challenges in receiving mainstream acceptance as it was considered barbaric by some prominent figures and often compared to cock-fighting by politicians. The late Arizona Senator John McCain was among those to hold that view and he waged a long campaign to ban the sport.

    Trump was among those who supported the UFC at its early days however, hosting its events when the sport was shunned by other venues.

    "I would never say anything negative about Donald Trump because he was there when other people weren't," White added.


    U.S. President Donald Trump attends UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden on November 02, 2019 in New York City.
    GETTY
    'vegan bakery in Brooklyn'
    Gene Ching
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  15. #15
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    When greed exceeds general welfare...

    UFC’s bungled coronavirus response proves yet again, athletes are secondary concern
    By Mike Chiappetta@MikeChiappetta Mar 13, 2020, 9:00am EDT


    Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    Like dominos falling, sports and entertainment events were knocked down yesterday as organizations came to the realization that the show must not go on. Not right now, when a virus that our own government has said is 10 times more lethal than the flu has been declared a global pandemic. This includes the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, the NCAA, Formula 1, Champions League, Disney Parks and all of Broadway. Almost every major producer of such events weighed in on their plans by announcing postponements or cancellations, pointing to concern for customers and employees as a priority.

    There was one glaring exception: the UFC.

    With a regular touring schedule, the UFC touches more parts of the globe than almost any of the aforementioned entities. Last week, they were in Las Vegas. On Saturday, they have a scheduled show in Brasilia, Brazil. Next week, they’re supposed to be in London.

    But how is the organization planning to handle this coronavirus outbreak? It took forever to find out. Most of Thursday came and went without a word.

    While multiple outlets, including MMA Fighting, reported that at least this week’s Brazil event would go on without fans present, the UFC remained silent. Some of this can be excused. To be fair, this is an extraordinary circumstance that in the midst of an unrelenting schedule, can take some time to parse. It is OK to time some time to collect information before making a decision, but it would have been helpful to say they were monitoring the situation and considering options. Instead, they left people to wonder.

    Finally, we got a bit of clarity late Thursday night when UFC president Dana White spoke to ESPN, saying they’d go on with events, some with fans, and some without. That is a decision that is misguided at best and dangerous at worst, considering the continued rise of cases, transmission rates, the possibility that the virus may be most infectious when symptoms are mildest, and with the finding that it is spread through breathing, even without coughing. With athletes, teams and production team members converging upon Brasilia from countries including the U.S., Denmark, Ukraine, France, Russia and Canada, among others, there is the possibility of coming into contact with an infected party, then bringing the virus back to their families and communities, possibly infecting others with underlying vulnerabilities who may not be able to fight it off in the way a healthy athlete can.

    True, it is safer than an event with a full arena, but given the close confines of the cage and locker room, it’s the wrong call. There’s a reason the other leagues canceled or postponed events, and there’s a reason experts have urged social distancing as a means of controlling the spread of the virus. The NCAA, for one, earned an estimated $933 million on its March Madness tournaments last year, money they are forfeiting with their decision to cancel. You think they took this step lightly?

    Worse, the organization plans to allow an audience at its London event next week, this despite UK numbers spiking over the last 24 hours, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying up to 10,000 people may already have the virus, many without yet knowing.

    Such a decision to proceed with a packed event is irresponsible, bordering on malfeasant. Sadly, it’s not surprising that the UFC has chosen to flout the advice of experts when it comes to the treatment of their independent contractors. Because the fighters are not unionized or organized in any way, they have no voice in how things will move forward. Contrast that with Wednesday night’s NBA game, where the New Orleans Pelicans decided they would not take the floor after learning an assigned referee had officiated a game with a player, Rudy Gobert, who tested positive for coronavirus.

    Most UFC fighters won’t speak up, and frankly, most of them can’t because they need the money. At this point they have put in weeks of camp, likely working through injuries and suffering through minimal, meticulous diets to reach their contracted weights. Their money isn’t guaranteed, so they are willing to risk injury—or illness—to earn it.

    The UFC is quite capable of canceling this event, swallowing its cost and paying the fighters what they were supposed to earn, but they are loathe to share the riches with the plebeians. Remember, it was just a couple of weeks ago The New York Post reported that the UFC dipped into its cash reserves to approve a $300 million dividend to its investors — a number that is reportedly twice as much as it paid all of its fighters combined in 2019. There is always money when it comes to something ownership cares about: itself.

    Meanwhile, the organization tried to frame its decision as some act of benevolence.

    “They want to fight, they want to compete, and we’re going to do everything we can to keep them safe,” White said during his ESPN interview.

    The best way to keep them safe—everyone safe—is to pay them the fighters their purses and to keep them away from gatherings. If the UFC doesn’t see this, can’t see this, it would be nice if their parent company did. Endeavor is a powerful entity that could easily step in and put a stop to the proceedings. It also holds sway over the Euroleague, which on Thursday morning—surprise, surprise—suspended league play. But the truth is, Endeavor doesn’t care any more about the athletes than the UFC does. It’s mostly interested in milking its cash cow.

    So for now, the show will go on for the UFC. Of course it will. It was less than a week ago when White told us he “didn’t give a s—t about the coronavirus.” Thursday’s response proved it.
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    Gene Ching
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