Contractor rights in MMA are a hot topic since the sport is relatively new. The sport has seen a lot of regulation since its inception, namely in the area of safety. However, there are many issues with the lack of governance.
Many are advocating for better financial conditions for MMA athletes, including calls for unionization.
The UFC, which is the biggest MMA promotion, is also criticized for not treating its athletes fairly. There’s a class-action lawsuit against the company led by three of its veterans for poor business practices.
Naturally, there are many who are calling for government interference in the matter. They’re calling for a law like the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act that was passed in 2000. It established a regulatory framework for the sport of boxing, protecting boxers with many legal rights.
Previously, there was such a bill that was introduced to Congress in 2016 but was unsuccessful. It was an extension of the Ali Act.
Now, it appears that such a bill is on its way to Congress again and this was revealed by MMA coach Jim West. West is the head trainer and the fiancé of former UFC prospect Aspen Ladd.
West said that he has a close friend who’s a lobbyist that’s trying to make this possible. He said that the bill is going to demand more rights for MMA professionals, including a pension system. He told The Allstar:
“I have some really close friends……. and one of them is very extremely well-known — probably the largest lobbying firm in the country, and part of the legislative branch.”
“There is a bill gonna be [sent] to Congress pretty quick, relative to pensions for MMA athletes and a subset very similar to the Ali Act. It’s going to be introduced to the United States House of Representatives here pretty soon.”
It’s very unlikely any such bill would pass considering the extensive amount of lobbying UFC had done over the last decade.
UFC recently updated its contracts to walk back some of the changes that were implemented due to the class action lawsuit. These changes included a sunsetting clause that allowed for Francis Ngannou and Nate Diaz to become free agents in 2022.
Syed Ali Fazeel is an accomplished MMA fan, and writer. He discovered MMA in his youth and has been following the sport since TUF season 1.