Bisping, Chandler, Sonnen and others were barred from testifying

A pre-trial conference for the UFC's upcoming antitrust hearing was held yesterday in Las Vegas federal court, where Judge Richard Boulware progressed through a litany of motions.

The motions essentially address situations that can arise at trial where one side doesn't want the jury to reveal certain things, and the biggest issue today is whether the UFC 13 can call certain witnesses (five fighters). five managers, and three of its own employees) to testify before the jury.

Although now a class action of more than 1,200 fighters effectively suing the world's largest MMA promoter for alleged anti-competitive conduct against other rival promoters, the named plaintiffs are five former fighters (Cung Le, Jon Fitch, Brandon Vera, Kyle Kingsbury, and Javier Vasquez) at the April hearing. Will testify.

According to UFC lawyers, those plaintiffs are a „cured collection” of fighters who hold a grudge against the company. A UFC attorney told the hearing that Michael Bisping, Cowboy Ceron, Michael Chandler, Chael Sonnen and Miesha Tate were allowed to share their experiences and promotional connections with the jury. „These are the people [plaintiffs] Revealed,” he said.

The UFC's argument is that the plaintiffs „got to know” fighters like Chandler and Sonnen during the discovery process by asking about or requesting documents related to them.

But for the plaintiffs' attorney, Eric Kramer, it was a „stalking trial.” Claiming the UFC never properly disclosed the 13 witnesses, Cramer asked Judge Boulware to ensure the jury never heard from Chandler, Bisping and others. „For most of these 13 people, we have no depositions and no documents,” he noted.

While Boulware waited until after a break to announce that 13 UFC witnesses had been officially recused from the upcoming trial, one theme of the day was organized chaos.

The whole aural rush felt like they were working against the clock.

Lawyers on both sides continued to take notes up to the stage and pass notes to each other. The motions in limine were filed four days ago, and neither side has yet to respond in writing. And requests for „brief” issues were made several times throughout the day.

But Boulware has a schedule.

He had announced the trial date of April last year and was later adamant that it would not budge. As both sides scramble to prepare for the trial, a complication sometimes forces him to rush.

During the exchange, which included 13 witnesses, Boulware took a long pause to read a 3-4 page portion of the UFC's trial brief while the rest of the courtroom waited patiently. „He was not fully prepared for all these motions in limine” were my perfectly contemporary handwritten notes.

He appeared in haste with a similarly highly unusual summary judgment order two months ago.

As the case enters its ninth year, the sense of urgency is understandable. But it took Boulware himself 5 ½ years to officially certify the case as a class action.

As the day progressed, Boulware made other judgments feel more like an assembly argument. He excluded any evidence past the end of the class period in June 2017, but would allow evidence before the class period began in December 2010. So get ready for the MMA timeline, with no clue in the industry. Conor McGregor was getting ready to fight Floyd Mayweather or later.

Excluded from the lawsuit are references to previous lawsuits the UFC has initiated against competitors. The plaintiffs wanted to use those lawsuits, like those filed by the UFC against the IFL, as further evidence of its plan to „starve out and monopolize” the MMA industry.[ing] Rivals of Capital.”

Also, there is no mention of the UFC not sharing video content with its competitors. Lack of access to video content to promote the newly signed fighter jet has always been one of the weakest elements of plaintiffs' claims. Because the plaintiffs did not claim any element of UFC policy that led to its monopolistic power, but rather the „scheme,” the totality of the UFC's conduct was to foreclose on its competitors and reduce fight pay.

Other items were adjourned until March 28, which will be a „full day” in which the judge and both sides will „grind” everything ahead of the April 15 hearing. Technical questions such as whether the word „monopoly” can be used and whether an expert witness can use the phrase „preemptive share” will then be resolved.

The most important test in MMA's short history is fast approaching. After this weekend, there will be only one pay per view.

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