UFC vet Antonio McKee on antitrust lawsuit outcome: ‘Only person that won here was the attorneys’

MMA pioneer Antonio McKee is not encouraged by the result of the UFC antitrust lawsuit.

Earlier this month, more than 10 years of work culminated when the UFC’s parent company reached a proposed $335 million settlement to resolve a pair of antitrust lawsuits that threatened to change the very fabric of the sport. The news signaled a premature end to a story that had the potential to be one of the biggest of 2024, and reaction to it has been decidedly mixed, with many fighters calling the outcome an outright win for the UFC.

McKee has been involved in the fight game from both a competition and coaching standpoint since making his professional debut in 1999, and he sees things the same.

“You know what? It’s great, but they shouldn’t have settled, and it does nothing,” McKee said Wednesday on The MMA Hour.

“What’s changed? Nothing’s changed. So I basically have seen a bunch of attorneys sell out.”

For now, many questions remain unanswered regarding how the $335 million settlement will be divided up. The two lawsuits covered fighters who competed in UFC between 2010 and 2017 (Le et al. vs. Zuffa) and 2017 to present (Johnson vs. Zuffa), and represented an estimated total of between 1,200 to 1,400 athletes. If Judge Richard Boulware approves the settlement terms, attorneys representing the fighters are expected to ask for a portion of the $335 million, which could total up to around 33 percent (or more than $110 million). The rest will be allocated to the athletes in some capacity, although details remain up in the air.

The initial antitrust lawsuit was filed in 2014 for the purpose of combating an alleged UFC scheme “to acquire and maintain monopsony power in the market for elite professional MMA fighter services” through exclusive contracts, coercion, and acquisitions that eliminated potential competitors, among other factors. Plaintiffs spoke often over the past 10 years about their ultimate goal being to reshape the sport into a more athlete-friendly business environment.

McKee, 54, competed for a variety of promotions over the course of his 20-year athletic career, making pit stops in the UFC, Bellator, WSOF, IFL, K-1, and more.

The veteran fighter and father to former Bellator champion A.J. McKee believes the plaintiffs failed in their goals.

“The attorneys took most of that money,” McKee said. “I was in on the original lawsuit, I still have the the paperworks, and the way the percentages are split, the only person that won here was the attorneys. Smart move on to UFC to settle.”