McGregor could address Congress on Ali Act extension

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Markwayne Mullin, retired MMA fighter, successful entrepreneur, and congressman (R) representing the 2nd District of Oklahoma has introduced H.R.5365, Federal legislation amending the Ali Act, so that it expands to cover professional MMA, and even kickboxing.

The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, widely known as the Ali Act, is a federal law enacted in 2000 in response to widespread abuse of boxers by means of exploitation, rigged rankings, and rigged matches. Sen. John McCain offers a one-page summary of the Ali Act here. 

The way boxing works now, a sanctioning body has a title, and a list of the top contenders. Then promoters essentially bid against each other to promote that title fight. Unfortunately, boxing sanctioning bodies only get paid for title fights, so they make up a lot of titles. Where once boxing had eight weight divisions, with one champion in each, there are now likely over 100 world champions, maybe more – no one knows for sure.

In Mullin’s vision, the UFC would still have its champion, and Bellator would have its champion, and sometimes, if the rankings dictated it, they would have to fight each other.

“Let’s say the Bellator champion and UFC champion are one and two in the rankings, they can have a title fight between each other,” he explained. “Maybe it’s for both belts, or for one belt or for a super belt.”

Mullin suggests that the rankings might come from the commissions. Other changes the bill would lead to include limiting contracts to one year, promoters disclosing earning to fighters, and prohibiting promoters from managing fighters.

McCain suggested in an interview in April of last year that he is favor of the extension.

The Ali Act expansion is one of the central elements that Robert Maysey’s MMAFA has been working on diligently since 2009. Another is the anti-trust lawsuit underway against the UFC.

If the bill comes out of the committee, it will be voted on in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. If it passes the house, it will be voted on in the Republican-controlled Senate. If it passes in the Senate, it will be sent to President Trump, who reportedly speaks regularly with UFC president Dana White and asked him to speak at the Republican National Convention. The President can veto the bill, sending it back, where it will need a 2/3 majority vote in the House and Senate to become law.

Further, the UFC has hired a lobbying firm to fight the Ali Act expansion.

In short, the bill faces a fight.

However, Mullin spoke recently with Philip O’Connor for Reuters, and said the most famous man in mixed martial arts history may speak to Congress about the bill.

“We have been told by his team that he was going to come to the Hill to talk about this,” said Mullin.

“Peyton Manning could never have made it in the UFC, because he was a great athlete but he wasn’t a good self-promoter. … 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.”

As noted, the UFC opposes the Ali Extension Act.

“We have been successful for one reason and one reason only – we put on the fights the fans want to see,” said UFC chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein. “That’s where we have a problem with what Congressman Mullin wants to do.”