Mixed martial arts (MMA) legend and UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture hasn't always seen eye-to-eye with his former friends at ZUFFA. In fact, past dealings with promotion president Dana White even led to a distasteful exit for son, Ryan, who's an up-and-coming Lightweight in Bellator MMA.
With that being said, as much as free agency has become a bigger part of a fighter's career, there are still many ways in which men and women stand to gain ground in effort to make the landscape of MMA even more competitive. One of the ways is by amending one of boxing's most important pieces of history, the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act.
The act was put into effect 16 years ago and contained one main principle: Professional boxing shall not be governed by any association, league, or organization. There has been a growing number of veteran fighters taking a stand against MMA's No. 1 organization, UFC, in an effort to organize a fighter's union and also uncover the finances behind the extremely profitable international entity.
So far, UFC has been able to keep the books closed, but "The Natural" still holds out hope (via Bloody Elbow) that enough big names will speak out in an effort to make the Ali Act include MMA.
"Ultimately it takes those top tier guys to want to put it on the line and affect a positive change on their sport and they're the ones actually making money from the promotions and they're risking damaging that relationship. Usually it's those first guys that get together to put those together that really get hammered."
Couture, who achieved a 19-11 record over a 14-year run in MMA, admits that any nudge will invoke a reaction from any promoter, particularly UFC. The Greco-Roman wrestling standout says this is because it will help "level the playing field" and eliminate "objective ranking criteria," as well as "exploitative and coercive contracts."
"I think they're will certainly be some pushback. I know I've seen interviews with Scott Coker that said he thinks it should be expanded to include mixed martial arts. I haven't seen anything from the World Series of Fighting but I can guarantee you there will be pushback and resistance from Zuffa ... [On facing opposition] I think someone is drinking Dana's Kool-Aid. I don't think they understand the sport, they don't understand what it's like to be an athlete."
UFC executives, like Lorenzo Fertitta, have successfully defended themselves -- thus far -- against an antitrust lawsuit, commissioned by former ZUFFA fighters like Jon Fitch and Cung Le.
Fertitta's message is loud and clear.
They've got the lawyers and experience of battling the Las Vegas Culinary Union for years, making any kind of push, for a group of fighters looking for sweeping change, seem like an uphill battle. Not only would they have to bypass ZUFFA brass, but the Ali Act is federal law, which would require congress amending the document.
It certainly seems like a longshot at this juncture. Do you think we'll see the Ali Act cover MMA at some point in the future?
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