UFC Files $32 Million Lawsuit Against New York Internet Pirate

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2014

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 16: UFC President Dana White speaks during a press conference promoting UFC 145: Jones v Evans at Philips Arena on February 16, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

In its ongoing campaign against Internet piracy, the UFC has filed a $32 million lawsuit against a New York man who has been illegally distributing its pay-per-view events.

According to  Selim Algar of the New York Post, the UFC alleges that Staten Island's Steven Messina, 27, was systematically ripping and distributing mixed martial arts and boxing events through file-sharing websites such as Pirate Bay. He drew the ire of the UFC's lawyers by labeling himself as the "Provider of Best MMA & Boxing rips online" and setting up a PayPal account for fans to donate to his cause, according to court documents obtained by Algar. 

The UFC, understandably, has long been upset with illegal consumption of its marquee fight cards. While most of the world watches all UFC cards on free or cable television, the UFC's backbone remains PPV revenue stateside. 

In 2010, UFC President Dana White vowed a crackdown on Internet piracy. Then, in 2012, he publicly supported the "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA), an unpopular decision with many fans that ultimately led to the UFC website getting hacked. While the SOPA bill died out that same year, news broke in February 2014 that the UFC was actively, and successfully, going after fans for watching and/or streaming its events online.

While the UFC is suing Messina for $32 million, it is extremely unlikely to get anything close to that figure. Messina, known online as "Secludedly," lives with his parents in Staten Island. 

In previous suits, the UFC has been willing to take four-figure settlements.