UFC parent company TKO agrees to $335 million settlement with fighters alleging antitrust violations

A pair of class-action lawsuits filed by former UFC fighters against the mixed martial arts promotion have been settled, according to a regulatory filing made Wednesday. TKO Group Holdings, the parent company of the UFC, disclosed in an SEC filing that it reached a settlement on March 13 and is expected to pay the fighters $335 million in total.

“The terms will be memorialized in a long-form agreement and then submitted to the court for approval,” TKO said in the filing. The company anticipates the settlement amount will be tax deductible.

“We are pleased with the settlement and will disclose more when we file with the Court in 45-60 days,” the fighters who filed the lawsuit said on social media.

The settlement means the sides will avoid a trial, which had been scheduled to begin April 15.

In a statement provided to The Athletic by a UFC spokesperson, the promotion said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement to settle all claims asserted in both the Le and Johnson class action lawsuits, bringing litigation to a close and benefiting all parties.”

The lawsuits alleged that the UFC — the most prominent MMA promotion in the world — used exclusive contracts, coercion and acquisitions to eliminate competitors “in a scheme to acquire and maintain monopsony power in the market for elite professional MMA fighter services.” That violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, the fighters claimed. The UFC and TKO previously rejected the fighters’ arguments.

There were originally five lawsuits levied against Zuffa, the previous entity that owned UFC, between December 2014 and March 2015, before the cases were consolidated into one. Then in 2021, a second lawsuit was filed against Zuffa and Endeavor, the company that bought out Zuffa in 2021.

There were about 1,200 fighters listed as plaintiffs in the first suit.

TKO Group was formed in 2023 through the Endeavor-led merger of UFC and WWE. Endeavor maintains a majority interest in TKO.

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(Photo: John Rivera / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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