Massive Lawsuits Cast Shadow Over UFC’s Future

( — Earlier this month, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lost its appeal to revoke the class-action status of hundreds of fighters who are suing for billions in wages, clearing the way for the start of the trial in April, Reuters reported.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on November 1 dismissed the UFC’s challenge to an August ruling that allowed over 1,200 fighters to sue as a group.

The fighters are seeking over $1.6 billion in damages. In August, US District Judge Richard Boulware approved a class action for fighters who competed in live UFC fights in the United States from December 2010 until June 2017.

The lawsuit alleges that the Nevada-based Zuffa, which is part of the UFC, violated US antitrust law when it abused its power to suppress fighters’ wages.

Attorneys for the UFC had asked the 9th Circuit to block Judge Boulware’s class-action order. However, the appeals court dismissed the appeal without hearing arguments.

In their appeal, the UFC’s lawyers described Boulware’s ruling as “unprecedented” and argued that it was based on erroneous claims that fighter compensation did not increase as quickly as the UFC’s revenue.

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs disputed the UFC’s claim that the class action could lead to similar lawsuits in the future. In their filing with the appeals court, the attorneys said Judge Boulware’s ruling only applies to professional athletes and not to “ordinary workers.”

The US Chamber of Commerce filed an amicus brief in support of the UFC, asking the 9th Circuit to reverse Judge Boulware’s class certification order.

In a statement after the appeals court ruling, attorney Eric Cramer, who represents the plaintiffs, said he looked forward to the April 8 trial.

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