MMAAA given “cease and desist” ultimatum by antitrust lawsuit plaintiffs

December 7, 2016

The MMAAA issued an “urgent news” statement as it appears that lawyers in the UFC antitrust lawsuit have issued a “cease and desist” letter from signing up fighters from joining the organization.

The statement was issued by Jim Quinn and Eric Hochstadt, outside counsel for the Mixed Martial Arts Association:

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.

Although the lawyers identified in the statement were not named, but they represent the fighters in the antitrust lawsuit, Cung Le, et al. v. Zuffa, LLC, et al.

John Nash at Bloody Elbow obtained the letter from Eric Cramer, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs’ attorneys representing the former UFC fighters suing the company sent a letter to Bjorn Rebney.

Letter to Rebney From Cramer by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The letter issues that Rebney’s group cease and desist from operating which essentially means for it to stop pursuing fighters to join the organization.  It argues that the court has granted the attorneys to represent the class of fighters and MMAAA’s effort would be interfering.

Notably, the letter states that Rebney’s group wanted to be a part of the UFC Class Action and met with CAA in New York.  At the meeting, which took place in October 15, 2015, Rebney revealed MMAAA and stated that they would start another antitrust action if certain demands were not met.  The letter also reveals that Rebney and MMAAA might be contemplating an MMA promotion.

The letter gives Rebney and MMAAA December 9th to cease and desist from operations.

Payout Perspective:

The plot thickens.  It’s clear that when Rebney cited a “settlement” from the UFC, it would spark concern from the PFA and the plaintiffs in the antitrust lawsuit.  Clearly, the plaintiffs have invested a great deal thus far in litigating against Zuffa.  For MMAAA to come in at this point, and based on what Cramer reveals in his letter, this is unsettling to the plaintiffs and their attorneys.  Of course, MMAAA explains in their statement the reasons for seeking costs related to its own work on behalf of the fighters.  What is the truth?  Hard to say, but what we can gather is that there may be another lawsuit on the horizon if MMAAA and the plaintiffs in the antitrust case cannot find a way to settle the issue.

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