UFC braces for federal investigation

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Less than a week ago, the UFC signed a deal with FOX that is sure to open many new doors for the promotion. On August 22, FCFighter.com revealed that UFC parent company Zuffa LLC, has now hired New York law firm Axinn-Veltrop-Harkrider, LLP in preparation for an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission concerning the UFC’s recent acquisition of Strikeforce.

“It is true that Zuffa has retained my law firm, but I will not comment further,” Firm senior-partner Stephen Axinn said. “As I am sure you know, people generally do not want to comment where there may be possibly some sort of investigation going on.”

Given Zuffa’s past behavior, it’s not really surprising that the UFC’s parent company is under investigation. The UFC has monopolized MMA to an extent, gradually buying-out their competition over the years. By purchasing the top MMA promotions in the world, Zuffa now has virtually all the recognizable full-contact fighters in the world under their banner.

Even though most organizations would rather avoid a federal investigation, I doubt UFC president Dana White and the Fertitta brothers (Frank and Lorenzo) are losing any sleep over the FTC investigation.

While the UFC does run some sort of monopoly, it is unlikely the FTC will find them in violation of any laws. For one, there are numerous MMA shows all around the world that are constantly producing the next best fighter. Fight fans should always remember that the UFC didn’t force Strikeforce or any other MMA promotion to sell their brand. Pride, Strikeforce and other promotions acquired by Zuffa, struggled because of bad business practices of their own. To blame the UFC for figuring out how to consistently make profits with MMA would be unfair.

The FTC investigation should be nothing more than a minor bump in the road for the UFC, as they get ready for network TV. With Axinn’s past experience in anti-trust cases, the investigation shouldn’t be anything more than a formality.

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