The Ali Act Gave Me A Headache

I’m not the smartest guy when it comes to bills and laws. So I started asking smarter people questions about the Ali Act. You’ve probably read the articles written by MMA journalists, sort of explaining what the Ali Act says and what it will do for fighters. But in my opinion, the media are being pretty lazy about this. For something that could drastically change our sport, they’re just translating a bill and not dissecting each part of the bill and asking if it’s a good fit for MMA.

I won’t go into microscopic detail because I don’t have the resources to do that. I have a laptop, some lawyer friends and a cold Corona. But I really do hope someone who considers covering MMA their “job”, looks into this for us smaller people.

So the bill will basically do several things:

  1. Protects fighters from “coercive contracts”, fighters can’t be signed to a contract that is longer than 12 months.
  2. All belts and rankings will be eliminated. They will now be overseen by a separate 3rd party.
  3. Promoters will need to release their earnings and the earnings of the fighter. Cool.
  4. Managers can’t be promoters.
  5. If anyone breaks the law by violating this bill a fighter can sue them for “economic injury”. That’s probably the best thing out of this bill.

Well, that’s where most MMA articles end. But I had more questions so I decided to talk to 2 lawyer friends, a case worker and a few boxing fans. This is where shit starts to get very confusing and questionable.

Let’s take the first bullet, for example, fighters can’t be signed to a contract that is longer than 12 months by the UFC. So my question is, does this mean that every contract will need to be re-done? Which, as a company and a business, leaves me with the option to not sign a huge number of fighters. If the UFC is going to take a hit like this and end up being a simple promoter, they very well likely might just sign the top talent and get rid of the fat… a lot of fat.

Of course fighters can sign with other promotions and this would make the “monopoly” issue less of an issue. But it brings up bullet number 2.

All current belts will be eliminated and new rankings will be implemented, overseen by a third party. So if this takes effect, who would be the third party? The Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC).

Probably the worst thing this bill has to offer.

Let’s think about this for a second, fighters keep arguing that they love that the rankings won’t be manipulated by the UFC. Okay. But you’re going to leave the rankings up to the ABC? The boxing community is going to rank MIXED MARTIAL ARTS fighters? Boxing judges can’t even score an MMA fight correctly.

Currently we have a panel of MMA media who make our current rankings and even those are terrible most of the time. I asked a few boxing fans how their rankings work… and let me tell you. If you want to research it, get a bottle of aspirin.

Let’s skip the 3rd bullet and just agree that the 4th and the 5th bullet make a lot of sense. There’s really not much to debate with those bullets. A fighter will have the right to sue if they feel they have been financially hurt.

Now you probably also read that the UFC hired a firm to lobby against the Ali Act. Some people jump the gun and say the UFC did this with evil intentions to keep their fighters under their thumb. Well… one of the lawyers I talked to brought up a good point. Have you heard about the UFC being up for sale recently? This makes us believe that the UFC isn’t against the Ali Act to keep control of their fighters, that’s not the entire reason at least.

But I think bullet 3 is the actual reason. Disclose all of their earnings and fighter earnings. Basically, open up your books to chapter 1 kids.

This is just a conspiracy, but the timing is interesting. I believe ZUFFA wants to sell the UFC before they have to open up their books, because it might lower the value of the company. Just a thought, you work out the details.

So, pretty much my opinion on the Ali Act is, I like the direction Markwayne Mullin is trying to go. But I think expanding a bill that’s intended for Boxing isn’t a great idea. Unless, of course, some of my questions can be answered, which I have emailed him about. I’m still pending his response.

On a final note, this bill can be passed. But there’s nothing that stops a promotion from going overseas and completely being out of the reach of the Ali Act. Of course, the likelihood of that occurring is small. But not that small. There are huge loopholes that the act does not address, and I know promoters will push the envelope to see what they can and can’t get away with.

Maybe after Mullin responds to my email or an expert starts to dissect this in more detail, some of my questions will be answered. Right now I think you should do your own research and not count on the lazy MMA media to do the work for you.


Update: 6/26/2016

Mullin has not responded to my email and has also ignored me on twitter. I should try updating my profile, maybe that’ll work.

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