Video: Randy Couture reacts to settlement of UFC anti-trust lawsuit

Randy Couture points out the one big issue with the settlement of the UFC anti-trust lawsuit.

Randy Couture
Randy Couture / Jason Davis/GettyImages

Former UFC champion Randy Couture had some thoughts about the UFC anti-trust lawsuit settlement on Tuesday, March 26. While appearing at a media scrum in Las Vegas to promote the new upcoming PFL 2024 Season, Couture was asked about the recent news that the potentially groundbreaking lawsuit had been settled.

Obviously, three of the biggest class action law firms in the business spent the last 10 years pursuing this, so there has to be some merit there," he said. "We know that [the UFC] had a tendency to buy out anybody that was a threat or anybody that was being successful in the sport, Strikeforce on down the line. That's that monopsony that the class action points out and the way they do business. 650 athletes signed to a very exclusive restrictive contract. There's no transparency in the sport. We figured out the math. We know their goal was to keep the fighters on any given card to under 20 percent of the take from that fight.Show me another professional sport where that's the case. "

On March 20, TKO Group Holdings, the UFC's parent company, filed a disclosure with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealing that the company has settled two separate class action lawsuits with a total payout of $335 million. While that amount may seem staggering, it's not when compared to the $1.6 billion figure the class action was hoping to get had the suit gone to court. UFC stock was up 7.84 percent at market close that same day according to Yahoo! Sports, indicating the shareholders were happy the suit was over.

"My concern is in the settlement, there's no injunctive relief," he continued. "We're not forcing the UFC to change the way they do business, which was what the class action set out to do. So yes, great that there's fighters in that class and I'm in the class. We'll see some remuneration for potential money that they lost in that period by not having a free and open transparent marketplace. But at the end of the day, we're not forcing the promoters to do business any differently and that's an issue. So it'll be interesting to see when the courts finally stamp off because we're all being a premature. It hasn't been approved yet, the settlement."

The suit was accusing the UFC of "anticompetitive practices to gain monopsony power in the sport" which if found to be true could have lasting impact throughout the sport.

Many fans and media criticized the fighters involved in the lawsuit for settling and not sticking to their guns, Couture is supposrtive of their decision, for the most part.

"I wasn't involved in that but I know Nate and those guys, they're fighters. They're not going to roll over," he said. "They're not going to give it up just for some easy cash. So I don't buy that for a second and that's the heat that they're under right now. I know they're being scrutinized because of that. I don't buy that for a second. $335 million is not a drop in the bucket for anybody and yet we can look at TKO and what their EBIT is and what they're worth, probably about $9 billion right now. So in the grand scheme of that picture, it seems like, oh, this is an easy settlement, a slap on the hand, but there's more to it than that and I believe in those fighters. I'm not questioning them at all. They stood up for themselves. I commend them for that )Would have been nice to have that kind of support back in '06 when I was fighting this fight, but it is what it is."

Couture fought for the UFC from 1997 through 2011, when he retired from the sport. During his time there was a three-time UFC heavyweight champion, a two-time UFC light heavyweight champion, an interim UFC light heavyweight champion, and the UFC 13 Heavyweight Tournament winner. He knows quite a bit about the ins and outs of the sports.


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