Odds are, we won't hear President Obama and whoever his Republican counterpart will be (we all know Mitt's got the nomination in the bag), debate over fighter-promoter issues this coming Fall. But, if the topic of mixed martial arts legislation keeps trending the way it is, it could rank right up there with Lady Gaga's newest alter-ego (okay, I'm exaggerating).
If you've been keeping up with AB2100, the proposed bill that just cleared the California Assembly Rules Committee this week, then you might be aware of the idea that the MMA industry could be in for a real shakedown.
AB2100 has been compared to the federal Muhammad Ali Reform Act, and in principle it does in many ways reflect the same general ideals, which all boil down to protecting fighters and limiting promoter control. In fact, the issue has already been tabled in Congress with no legislative action having been proposed. However, legislation in California could open the door for such elsewhere.
No, MMA might not be in the same state that boxing was in back in 2000 when the Muhammad Ali Act was passed. But, the proactive mind of Assemblyman Luis Alejo and the bills's supporters are working to avoid the aggressive acts of "cigar-chomping" promoters, as Eddie Goldman so appropriately described them (boxing promoters).
And, although I don't recall seeing Dana White or Lorenzo Fertita smoking saliva-soaked Cohibas and wearing sequenced blazers, the fact of the matter is tat they are promoters -- they make money off of fighters. I'm not saying they don't care, or don't have the fighters' interest in mind, I mean they did implement an insurance program for fighters. Yet still, until they step into the Octagon and fight, until they sign a fighter contract, or better yet, until they live off of a fighter's salary, they should let mixed martial arts legislation run its course.
In all reality, boxing hasn't suffered from the Muhammad Ali Act. In fact, some even argue that the act isn't being enforce, but that's an issue for another entry. As for Dana and Lorenzo, if they do have the fighters' well being in mind, then AB2100 shouldn't be an issue to challenge.
It's the promotional aspect of the sport that gets to me. When you look at boxing, the promotion's name (ie. Golden Boy or Top Rank) is not as apparent as is reflected in MMA. In mixed martial arts, the promotion's name is center stage -- big and bold! Will future legislation limit contracts to where fighters have more cross-promotional access (non-exclusive)?
I recall Dana mentioning it a year or so ago, that he would allow certain fighters (the prelim card level fighters) to fight outside of the UFC. Well, that news came and went, and I can't validate whether or not this has happened. But, what I can say is that the UFC is bulging at the seams with fighters, and even with the additional programming on FX, it has to be very near impossible to accommodate every fighter with the number of fights he wants/is capable of competing in. In other words, I feel like there are prelim card guys out there starving just so they can fight in the UFC, when they could be more active on the pro circuit if it weren't for exclusive contracts.
Really, my thoughts here are just scratching the surface of a mile-long list of issues that deserve the attention of our lawmakers. So, peep these informative links related to MMA legislation, the Muhammad Ali Act, and AB2100:
- Fight Opinion: Layout of how AB2100 currently stands
- Mixed Martial Arts Fighters' Association: Battle Lines Being Drawn: Why the Muhammad Ali Act Should Apply to MMA
- California Assembly: California Assembly Bill 2100
- Fordham Law Review: The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act: The First
- Jab at Establishing Credibility in Professional Boxing