16 for 16: No. 4 Legislation to Amend Ali Act Introduced
December 29, 2016
In May 2016, Oklahoma Republican Congressman Markwayne Mullin introduced an expansion of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act to include MMA. A Congressional Subcommittee hearing was conducted in December to discuss the issues related to mixed martial arts and how the introduced law would help fighters.
In addition to Congressman Mullin, it is co-sponsored by Democrats including Joseph P. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Mark Takano of California. Overall, 5 Republicans and 2 Democrats have put their name to the bill.
The UFC opposes the expansion and hired a lobbying firm to influence legislators into voting down the amendment to the existing law. Several op-eds have come out to oppose the law citing government overreach among other reasons. It attempted to strong-arm the December hearing by indicating it would not participate if Randy Couture testified. It backed off and Jeff Novitsky represented the UFC at the hearing.
The amendment to the Ali Act mirrors the current law with few changes but for the inclusion of combat sports. Earlier this year, I outlined the issues with the expansion of the Ali Act which included a variety of cases where boxers sued promoters and came up with a loss. Notably, there could have been more done with the Ali Act to ensure functionality to allow fighters an alternative to needing to file a lawsuit under the Act.
Currently, the Ali Act is in the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee. There is no word on whether there will be additional hearings on the subject or what the next move will be on the bill.
With the new UFC ownership and its previous relationship with the incoming administration in January I do not know how successful passage will be. At this point, there seems to be a lot more work to do before it comes to a vote in the House.
16 for 16
5. UFC 200
14. Bellator 149
15. CM Punk debuts