MMAAA Issues Statement Responding to Cease-and-Desist Letter from Lawyers in Anti-Trust Case

By Tristen Critchfield Dec 7, 2016
The Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association has responded to a cease-and-desist order from lawyers representing a group of fighters in a class-action lawsuit against the UFC.

Bloody Elbow obtained a copy of the letter, which was addressed to Bjorn Rebney and expressed concerns that the newly-formed group could hinder the ongoing anti-trust suit. The letter, from Eric Cramer and Michael Dell'Angelo of Berger & Montague, Benjamin Brown and Richard Koffman of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, and Joseph Saveri, questions the motives of the MMAAA and claim that Rebney and his representatives met with the counsel for the class-action suit a year ago seeking a share of the payout in the lawsuit.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in December 2014 in US District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of Cung Le, Jon Fitch and Nate Quarry and accuses the UFC of “illegally maintaining monopoly and monopsony power by systematically eliminating competition from rival promoters, artificially suppressing fighters’ earnings from bouts and merchandising and marketing activities through restrictive contracting and other exclusionary practices.” The case is currently still pending.

On Wednesday, the MMAAA released a statement denying the claims of the counsel in the anti-trust lawsuit. The full statement is as follows:

As Georges St-Pierre, Donald Cerrone, T.J. Dillashaw, Tim Kennedy, and Cain Velasquez made clear in the official public announcement last week, the Mixed Martial Arts Athlete Association (“MMAAA”) is all about looking out for the fighters and their well-being long-term.

Yesterday, the MMAAA received a “cease and desist” letter from a group of lawyers seeking to stop the MMAAA from signing up fighters and sticking up for their rights against the UFC and its owners WME-IMG. The MMAAA will do no such thing. Those lawyers – who represent only a few fighters – are focused on getting some money out of one case, of which they seek a significant portion for themselves. Those lawyers do not speak for anyone else, and certainly not the MMAAA and all the fighters the organization represents now and will quickly grow to represent in the sport.

Over a year ago, those same lawyers reached out to the MMAAA to join forces with us. We had a meeting and made clear that the MMAAA’s primary focus would be on achieving three core goals: 1) substantially increasing UFC fighter pay to 50%; 2) securing all-encompassing long term benefits for UFC fighters; and 3) a settlement to compensate past and current UFC fighters for all of the UFC’s wrongs. To achieve these goals for the benefit of the fighters, we also made clear the MMAAA needed to receive a percentage of a monetary settlement to cover the costs to fund the MMAAA for staffing and attorneys both for past work getting to this point and the long fight ahead. The lawyers made clear that they did not share the MMAAA’s vision. They are focused on a short-term monetary recovery, of which they will seek 33%, and then they are gone from this sport. We parted ways at that point.

The MMAAA is all about the fighters benefitting when the UFC is finally forced to take a powerful group of the fighters seriously. The MMAAA will be executing on that plan and will not be stopped in this effort on behalf of fighters.


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