It's been a long, tedious battle between the plaintiffs that represent the antitrust lawsuit and the UFC, and an important decision has been ruled in the favor of the former.
Judge Richard Boulware of United States Court District Court in Nevada ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and granted them class certification during a status call on Thursday. The ruling means as many as 1,200 fighters will be included in what now becomes a class-action lawsuit against the promotion.
Former UFC veterans Jon Fitch and Cung Le head up the suit that claims the UFC is "an illegal monopoly" against other MMA promotions in an attempt to drive down fighter pay.
Le, 48, released a statement shortly after the ruling came down.
"This is an enormous win for all UFC fighters, past, present and future," Le said in a statement provided by the MMA Fighters Association, which backs the lawsuit (h/t ESPN). "For too long, the UFC has taken advantage of fighters by monopolizing the industry, and cheated fighters out of millions of dollars each year. Today's decision by Judge Boulware means our case can proceed for all UFC fighters that are part of the class."
The UFC is reportedly expected to file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th circuit. Judge Boulware said that he expects his motion to grant certification to be published as early as Monday, December 14. The lawsuit dates back to 2014 and the plaintiffs are hoping for anywhere between $800 million and $1.6 billion in damages from the UFC.
The grant of certification now means the fighters can sue the UFC as a collective whole rather than each of them in separate lawsuits. The time period on the lawsuit enables any fighter that's competed under the UFC banner between December 16, 2020 and June 30, 2017 can take part in the lawsuit and will be entitled to a portion of the money should the plaintiffs be successful in the class suit.
The named plaintiffs in the suit against the UFC are Jon Fitch, Cung Le, Brandon Vera, Kyle Kingsbury and Javier Vazquez.