Federal Trade Commission re-opens UFC investigation, contacting promoters, fighters and managers
The Federal Trade Commission is contacting people to inquire about the business practices of Zuffa Inc. the parent corporation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Several well known individuals in the world of mixed martial arts have confirmed to us that they have been contacted by the FTC regarding the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Many believed the FTC investigation had been permanently buried in 2012 but is apparently now re-opened.
The FTC had opened an investigation into Zuffa, LLC, the owners of the UFC, for possible violations of Federal regulations following their acquisition of rival promotion Strikeforce in Spring of 2011. On January 25, 2012, though, the government agency sent a letter to both Zuffa's and Explosion Entertainment's (Strikeforce) counsel informing them that it was halting the investigation.
The Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition has been conducting a nonpublic investigation to determine whether Zuffa, LLC's acquisition of Explosion Entertainment, LLC may violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act or Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
Upon further review of this matter, it now appears that no further action is warranted by the Commission at this time. Accordingly, the investigation has been closed.
While this was widely reported as indicating that the case had been closed, that may not have been completely accurate. The full letter made it clear that the investigation could be reopened in the future.
This action is not to be construed as a
determination that a violation may not have occurred, just as the pendency of an investigation should not be construed as a determination that a violation has occurred. The Commission reserves the right to take such further action as the public interest may require.
A group of MMA fighters, managers, and promoters have confirmed over the last few weeks that they have been contacted by the Seattle branch of the Federal Trade Commission to discuss the UFC and their business practices. All of them asked to remain anonymous, expressing concern that they were possibly interfering with the investigation by discussing it.
While none of our sources could say for certain if the FTC had reopened the previous investigation, started a new one, or were engaging in some form of fact finding, persons familiar with the workings of the agency have told us that the FTC generally doesn't make interview calls unless they're investigating. Taking into consideration the number of individuals contacted by the agency and the type of questions being asked, they think a full investigation is a reasonable inference.
We asked the Federal Trade Commission to comment on any possible investigation. The FTC responded with an email.
I'm sorry but the FTC does not confirm or deny whether it is investigating or will investigate a particular company.
Companies sometimes choose to confirm an FTC investigation though, typically through a press release or SEC filing.
We also asked the UFC for a comment but they have yet to respond to our request.