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Endeavor-Run TKO Group Pays $335 Million To Settle Antitrust Suit By UFC Fighters

TKO Group Holdings, the Endeavor-run parent of the UFC, has agreed to pay $335 million to settle a lawsuit filed nearly a decade ago by fighters in the mixed-martial-arts organization.

The settlement comes weeks before a trial was scheduled to start, with potential damages reaching up to $1.6 billion. Five lawsuits were originally filed between December 2014 and March 2015, with fighters claiming that the UFC violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. In June 2015, the suits were consolidated into a single case.

The essence of the complaint was that UFC had abused its monopoly power to limit fighters’ pay. The UFC and TKO had rejected that claim, arguing that over a period of time the circuit had increased the number of bouts, the number of fighters and overall compensation.

Endeavor acquired control of the UFC in 2016 and then rolled it up entirely as it was launching its IPO in 2021. TKO, which is 51% owned by Endeavor, was formed last year as a result of a merger of the UFC with the WWE.

In an SEC filing Wednesday, TKO said the settlement would be paid in installments, “over an agreed-upon period of time,” with payments being tax-deductible. A judge must first sign off on the plan, the company noted.

Shares in TKO jumped 7% on news of the settlement.

During its short run as a public company, TKO has been confronting a nest of legal challenges unrelated to the UFC suits due to a bombshell lawsuit filed by a former WWE employee against former chief Vince McMahon. The suit accused McMahon and others of sex abuse, trafficking and harassment. McMahon, who had previously acknowledged paying other women millions of dollars in hush money in response to their claims of sexual misconducts, exited as TKO executive chairman shortly after the suit was filed.

In a separate case, TKO shareholders filed a class-action suit in November 2023, alleging that the $21 billion merger of the UFC and WWE resulted from a “sham sales process.”

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