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Midnight Mania! McGregor may address Congress on expanding the Ali Act to MMA

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In an interview with Reuters, Congressman Markwayne Mullin related that McGregor could speak in front of Congress on upcoming legislation that would extend the protections of the Ali Act to MMA.

“We have been told by his team that he (McGregor) was going to come to the (Capitol) Hill to talk about this,” Mullin, a Republican from Oklahoma, told Reuters in an interview.

Enacted in 2000, the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act is intended to protect the rights of boxers and to help U.S. states to regulate the sport and maintain its integrity.

Among the safeguards offered to boxers by the Act are protection from “coercive contracts”, the establishment of an independent ranking system and the banning of promoters from having a “direct or indirect financial interest” in the management of fighters.

Mullin has been pushing to expand the Ali Act to include mixed martial arts (MMA) for a long time now. A huge fan of the sport and a former fighter himself, he believes the legislation will help the fighters get a fair share of the revenue.

Naturally, the UFC has been resisting this proposed legislation; according to them, things are already fine- better than fine, in fact. Nothing to see here.

UFC’s chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein told Reuters that the body was already “exceeding the requirements when it comes to health and safety and contracts”.

However, there are several elements of the UFC’s treatment of fighters that is patently unfair. Firstly, the UFC takes the lion’s share of revenue; while sports like basketball and football mandate 50% of the revenue go to the fighters, in the UFC that amount is somewhere between 10 and 20 percent. Many struggle in poverty, needing day jobs to get by. Secondly, fighters, though independent contractors with no retirement plan or employee benefits, are not able to pursue other avenues of income. They are generally not free to use their fighting skills for other organizations, even in different sports such as boxing. McGregor had to obtain UFC permission to box Mayweather, and they took a cut of his check from that bout.

Moreover, the Reebok deal has killed fighter’s ability to generate outside revenue from clothing, banners, and apparel sponsorships; many said they lost seventy to eighty percent of their income after the deal, which was negotiated with zero fighter input, was struck.

The Ali Expansion Act could be a first step towards better conditions for these fighters, given the seeming inability of fighters to form any kind of union or successful fighter association.

The UFC’s spokesperson raised one legitimate qualm with the Ali Act expansion- it could curtail the ability of the UFC to put together compelling fights by instituting an outside ranking system. Mullins counters that this would make the sport more an actual sport, and less a spectacle.

“We have been successful for one reason and one reason only - we put on the fights the fans want to see,” Epstein explained.

“That’s where we have a problem with what Congressman Mullin wants to do.”

Mullin says that a transparent rankings system would allow fans and fighters to see who is in line for a title shot.

“(American football quarterback) Peyton Manning could never have made it in the UFC, because he was a great athlete but he wasn’t a good self-promoter,” Mullin explained.

“We want to make it a professional sport where a guy who is not a loud-mouth can still climb the ranks and eventually have that title shot - right now, you can’t get a title shot unless you sell a lot of tickets.


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A+ tweet from Gokhan Saki

Slips, Rips, and KO Clips

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Podcasts and Audio

OSP-Okami prediction with Flyin Brian J:

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The Protect Ya Neck podcast with MMA analyst Dan Tom.

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