Multiple fighters, including Michael Chandler, set to testify on behalf of the UFC in antitrust lawsuit

Michael Chandler and fighters testify on behalf of UFC in antitrust suit

Multiple past and present fighters — including active lightweight star Michael Chandler — are scheduled to testify on behalf of the UFC in an upcoming class-action antitrust case, per a brief filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

As first reported by Bloody Elbow, Chandler and former UFC bantamweight champion Miesha Tate are listed as expected witnesses for the defendants in UFC parent company Zuffa’s trial brief. Also listed in the briefs as expected witnesses are Chael Sonnen and UFC Hall of Famers Michael Bisping and Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.

The trial is expected to begin on April 15 in Las Vegas, though Zuffa counsel is attempting to push back the date due to a scheduling conflict.

“I don’t have a problem with the quote/un-quote ‘fighter pay’ argument,” Chandler said in a 2022 interview. “I think people think we should make a lot more money because the UFC makes a ton of money on their shows. Well, the UFC’s been at it since 1993.

Dana White has had 10,000 sleepless nights when most of us fighters are just showing up to practice and going to bed, laying our head on the pillow and getting after it — and getting paid a decent wage for what we do.”

Managers of MMA fighters are also listed as expected witnesses on behalf of Zuffa, including Ali Abdelaziz, Jason House, Josh Jones, Dan Lambert, and Ed Soares. Abdelaziz is best known for representing some of the best pound-for-pound fighters like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Henry Cejudo, Kamaru Usman, and Kayla Harrison. Lambert has worked as a manager but is best known as the proprietor of one of the most prestigious gyms in the MMA world — American Top Team.

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Current UFC CEO Dana White is expected to be called as a witness alongside former Zuffa co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta and matchmakers Joe Silva, Sean Shelby, and Mick Maynard.

The plaintiffs, made up of former UFC fighters Cung Le, Nathan Quarry, Jon Fitch, Brandon Vera, Luis Javier Vazquez, and Kyle Kingsbury, are claiming the UFC engaged in a scheme “to acquire and maintain monopsony power in the market for elite professional MMA fighter services” by eliminating competition and suppressing wages. If found guilty, the UFC could be on the hook for damages anywhere between $894 million and $1.6 billion.

After being granted a class certification in August, the entire group of defendants is any fighter who competed in the UFC during the bout class, which runs from December 16, 2010, to June 30, 2017. Thus far, no fighter has opted out of receiving compensation should the plaintiffs win the case or there is a settlement.

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Transcription courtesy of ESPN’s Marc Raimondi