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TKO to Pay $335 Million to Settle UFC Athlete Class-Action Lawsuits

TKO Group Holdings, the parent company of UFC, disclosed that it will pay $335 million to settle two class-action lawsuits filed by former UFC fighters alleging the MMA promoter violated antitrust laws.

Zuffa, the predecessor entity that owned and operated UFC, was the defendant in five related class-action lawsuits filed between December 2014 and March 2015, which were consolidated into a single action in June 2015 (Le et al. v. Zuffa). An additional lawsuit, Johnson et al. v. Zuffa, was filed in 2021.

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On March 13, 2024, TKO reached an agreement to settle all claims asserted in both class action lawsuits for a total of $335 million payable in installments over a period of time, the company disclosed in an SEC filing Wednesday. “The terms will be memorialized in a long-form agreement and then submitted to the court for approval,” TKO said, adding that it anticipates the settlement amount will be deductible for tax purposes.

The lawsuits alleged Zuffa violated antitrust laws by paying UFC fighters far less than they were entitled to receive and eliminating or hurting other MMA promoters. UFC fighters Cung Le, Nate Quarry and Jon Fitch filed their initial complaint against Zuffa in federal court in California in December 2014; that was subsequently joined by fighters Brandon Vera, Luis Javier Vazquez and Kyle Kingsbury. On June 23, 2021, Kajan Johnson and C.B. Dollaway filed a proposed class-action antitrust lawsuit against Zuffa and Endeavor with similar allegations that UFC engaged in illegal anticompetitive action.

TKO Group was formed last year through the Endeavor-led merger of UFC and WWE. Endeavor maintains a majority interest in TKO.

Separately, TKO, in its 10-K filing Feb. 27, disclosed that it made a $20 million payment to settle a 2022 lawsuit filed against WWE by MLW Media alleging that WWE interfered with MLW’s contractual relationship with certain media platforms and engaged in other anticompetitive and unfair business practices. The case was dismissed with prejudice on Dec. 26, per the 10-K filing.

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