Multiple UFC fighters, including Michael Chandler and Miesha Tate, barred from testifying during antitrust trial


On Monday, a pre-trial conference for the UFC’s upcoming antitrust trial was held in Las Vegas Federal Court.

Per a report from Forbes, Judge Richard Boulware worked his way through a slew of motions addressing situations that could arise at trial where one side doesn’t want the jury exposed to certain materials. The biggest question of the day would be whether the Las Vegas-based promotion would be allowed to call 13 handpicked witnesses, including five fighters, five managers, and three of its own employees, to testify in front of the jury.

Among them was a mix of current and former fighters, including Michael Bisping, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, Michael Chandler, Chael Sonnen, and Miesha Tate who were to share their experiences and promotional interactions with the jury. However, the plaintiff’s attorney, Eric Cramer, successfully argued that it would be “trial by ambush,” claiming the UFC never properly disclosed the 13 witnesses. “For most of these 13, we have no depositions and no documents,” he noted.

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The UFC argued that plaintiffs made the fighters “known” by asking about or requesting documents related to them during the discovery process.

Boulware sided with the plaintiff, announcing that the 13 UFC witnesses are officially excluded from the upcoming trial. He also excluded any evidence past the end of the class period in June 2017 but will allow evidence before the start of the class period in December 2010.

The UFC could be on the hook for $1.6 billion

In August, the longstanding antitrust suit was granted class certification with over 1,200 fighters effectively suing the world’s largest MMA promoter. Among the named plaintiffs are former UFC fighters Cung Le, Jon Fitch, Brandon Vera, Kyle Kingsbury, and Javier Vazquez. All are expected to testify when the trial begins in April.

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The suit alleges that the UFC is an illegal monopoly or monopsony and has snuffed out competition from other MMA promotions to drive down fighters’ wages. If found guilty, the UFC could be on the hook for anywhere from $800 million to $1.6 billion.