Congressional hearing on Ali Act Expansion set for December 8th
December 3, 2016
The Congressional subcommittee on energy and commerce will have a hearing this Tuesday on the Expansion of the Muhammad Ali Act. According to the notice, the hearing is entitled, “Mixed Martial Arts: Issues and Perspectives.”
No witnesses have been announced and are by invitation only. A webcast will be available for public viewing.
Republican Oklahoma congressional representative Markwayne Mullin was the primary sponsor of the bill introduced last May. Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors to the bill which seeks to expand the current Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act to combat sports. Specifically, the bill is addressed to help mixed martial artists.
Zuffa has employed lobbyists to combat the passage of this bill. The bill will likely meet stiff opposition despite the bill coming from a Republican. Current UFC exec, Ari Emmanuel, met with President-elect Donald Trump last month. While no specifics of the meeting were revealed, Emmanuel and the President-elect have a past business relationship. One might suspect that Emmanuel’s relationship may influence support to quash the expansion of the Ali Act.
Since the sale of the UFC to WME-IMG, more and more fighters have come forward to discuss their need for better pay and benefits. Two organizations, the Professional Fighters Association and the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association have come forward seeking support to organize in hopes of negotiating with the UFC on behalf of the contracted fighters. The two join the MMAFA as organizations that continue to seek better conditions for fighters. The MMAFA is an active advocate for the expansion of the Ali Act.
The hearing should be interesting as to who will testify and what will be said about the expansion of the Ali Act. The sale of the UFC will likely come up as well as the current antitrust lawsuit. The question is whether the expansion of the Ali Act would truly help MMA fighters. What will interest me is how educated the legislators will be on the sport of MMA and how the application of the bill to MMA will have on the sport.