The Ultimate Fighting Championship is expanding its efforts to fight pirating of its events on the Internet by going after individual users who access the streams.
Battling websites that post illegal streams of UFC pay-per-view events has been an ongoing fight for the organization for several years now. The UFC, however, made it clear with the recent shutdown of greenfeedz.com and seizure of the site's records that those who seek out the pirated streams are also committing a crime and not immune to prosecution.
Included with the announcement it had shut down Greenfeedz, the UFC noted it had seized the site's records, including email addresses, user names, the number of events users illegally streamed and the IP addresses of all users who registered to watch pirated UFC events. The UFC said it will pursue legal action against individual consumers for copyright violations.
"We feel like we've got to go after people who are stealing our product," UFC chief legal counsel Lawrence Epstein said. "It's part of our comprehensive plan to combat theft of pay per view and other copyrighted material."
Epstein compared the situation to earlier this decade, when DirecTV cracked down on individuals using "smart cards" to steal service from the company.
While he could not pinpoint an exact number of offenders potentially targeted or a specific timeline for legal action against individuals to commence, Epstein said, "The process of pursuing people has already begun."
Greenfeedz allegedly streamed more than a dozen UFC pay-per-view events between May 2011 and January.
■ 'RAMPAGE' TO HAVE SURGERY -- A rematch seven years in the making will be put on hold yet again after Quinton "Rampage" Jackson announced he will undergo surgery on both knees before he can compete again.
The UFC announced last week that Jackson would fight fellow former light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, who knocked out Jackson in a Pride Fighting Championships bout in 2005.
"2 keep it real, the Shogun fight will have 2 wait, I just found out that I have 2 get surgery on both knees," Jackson tweeted. "But I heal fast don't trip."
The delay is the latest development in the ongoing saga between Jackson and the UFC. He has criticized the company for a lack of "respect" and matchmaking that has pitted him against wrestlers who are unwilling to engage Jackson in the kind of exciting fights he desires.
The organization was also perturbed by an interview Jackson gave detailing his use of testosterone replacement therapy before his February loss to Ryan Bader in Japan.
Jackson, 33, has one fight left on his UFC deal and has made it clear he hopes to fight elsewhere when his contract is fulfilled.
The long-anticipated rematch with Rua was expected to be the send-off, but everything can change with the timetable completely up in the air.
■ LAS VEGAS CARDS TAKE SHAPE -- The third fight between Urijah Faber and bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, the coaches on the current season of "The Ultimate Fighter," is expected to headline UFC 148 on July 7 at the MGM Grand Garden, and several other bouts appear to be set around the anticipated main event.
Middleweight contenders Michael Bisping and Tim Boetsch will square off in a pivotal battle. Another bout in the 185-pound division will feature Cung Le taking on former champion Rich Franklin.
Also, Renan Barao takes on Jeff Hougland in a bantamweight bout.
UFC 146 at the MGM Grand on May 26 will feature an all-heavyweight main card, capped by Alistair Overeem against champion Junior dos Santos. Las Vegans Roy Nelson and Frank Mir will also be in action, fighting Antonio Silva and Cain Velasquez, respectively.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.