Let’s Draft MMA’s “Muhammad Ali” Act

As was first reported by John Nash, the Mixed Martial Camiseta Flamengo Arts Fighter’s association has approached Congressman (and former fighter) Markwayne Mullin to extend the protections professional boxers have been given through the Muhammad Ali Act to professional MMA.

The Oklahoma politician is prepared to take on the cause and has recently been vocal about his belief that the legislation must undoubtedly be expanded to include professional MMA.

This week  Luke Thomas interviewed senator John McCain who also expressed support for this legislative change.  With support getting momentum the MMAFA’s goals come closer to reality.

For a balanced discussion addressing the reasons why some believe this reform is needed and additionally why the proposed reform may not be the panacea some think it will be I recommend listening to this week’s episode of John McCarthy and Sean Wheelock’s ‘Let’s get it On” Podcast which can be found here.

So what does the intended legislation look like?  Representative Mullin himself admits he has not drafted the law.   There are a few points worth noting –

Amending the “Ali Act” is just a soundbite, it is not the legislation that would be amended.  The Ali Act itself was an act amending Camiseta Paris Saint-Germain the professional Boxing safety Act. Amending the Ali Act really indicates overhauling the PBSA to apply to professional MMA.

Since the proposed bill is yet undrafted either the PBSA will be overhauled with MMA being added or maybe stand alone legislation can be created to address problems that have cropped up in MMA.  Many of the sections of the PBSA can be adopted directly to MMA, some cannot.

Since the legislation does not exist someone needs to draft it.  Perhaps the MMAFA, maybe Congressman Mullin or maybe other stakeholders in the MMA community.

Below is how the PBSA would look like if it applied to MMA.  It is somewhat cumbersome and translates with some difficulty to MMA.

Appreciating that the PBSA would not smoothly transition to MMA  and given that the guideline of professional combative sports has progressed considering that the PBSA has passed stand-alone legislation addressing problems special to the world of MMA may be a more sensible option.

For Camiseta AS Roma an example of basic legislation aimed at taking care of oppressive practices in MMA, I recommend a quick look at California’s failed attempt to overhaul oppressive contracts in the sport.

I would appreciate comments from any individual prepared to critically think about this proposed legislation identifying those sections that would not be well suited for MMA and suggesting how, if at all, they can be modified to apply to the sport.

Reviewing this here are my observations applying the Act, section by section, to MMA.  The sections crating meaningful change are detailed in bold.

Section 2 –  This simply prohibits professional MMA from being conducted in a state without an athletic Commission.  Seeing as how the sport is regulated in every state this provision is redundant but does no harm

Section 3 – This section supplies minimal medical and safety standards for the sport.  These are less restrictive than those in place in lots of jurisdictions but again, there is no harm in legislation imposing these base standards on a national level

Section 4 –  This section will require professional MMA fighters to have ID cards.  This is not currently required but is an accepted practice.  This section will not create any meaningful change.

Section 5 – This section mandates that state athletic Commissions respect each others suspensions except in limited circumstances.  This is in line with current practices.

Section 6 – This section requires bout results to be reported to a national MMA registry, something that is presently made with Kirik Jenness of MixedMartialArts.com being the ABC’s recognized official record keeper.

Section 7 – This section would require the ABC to recommend minimal protections in contracts however no state would be forced to adopt these guidelines.  This is a toothless provision at best creating a regulatory suggestion.

Section 8 – This section would create meaningful change.  It prohibits coercive contracts for MMA and defines what these are.  This section, on its face, would make lots of current MMA contracts prohibited as they often exceed 12 months and otherwise meet the definition of ‘coercive’ (ie – the UFC operates without cross promotion and it is a condition that a fighter sign with them to fight another UFC fighter.)

Section 9 and 10 – These sections would again create meaningful change.  They regulate sanctioning organizations which don’t really exist in MMA where titles are often controlled directly by promotions.  These sections would need revision to make sense in the MMA landscape.

Section 11 – This is maybe one of the most significant changes.  This would require all contracts between promoters and fighters to be disclosed to athletic commissions and additionally require promoters to disclose all compensation the promoter is making.  In other words it would create a far a lot more informed negotiating landscape.

Section 12 – This section requires judges and referees to disclose all ‘consideration’ they are receiving for officiating.  This would create little change to current practices.

Section 13 – This section allows athletic commissions to keep information they are receive from prompters by virtue of the legislation confidential.  This likely would not create any meaningful change to current practices.

Section 14 – This section requires judges and referees to be licensed by state athletic commissions.  This would create no change to current practices

Section 15 – This is another meaningful section which creates a firewall between promoters and managers.   This section would have to be redrafted with MMA in mind as it only applies to fighters in a match “of 10 rounds or more”.  An MMA certain redrafting would be called for.

Section 16 – another meaningful section which imposes criminal and civil penalties for those who breach this legislation.  More importantly it gives fighters the ideal to sue any individual who caused them ‘economic injury’ by violating the statute.  A powerful tool that MMA fighters currently do not have.

Section 17 – this section deals with bouts in jurisdictions without an athletic Commission.  It would create no meaningful change.

Section 18 – This section would require studies into the health and safety of MMA.  While maybe insightful this section would create no change in the guideline of the sport.

Section 19 – This section would prohibit “Indian Reservations” from hosting MMA events that have “health and safety standards” less strict than those of the state commission in which place the event is taking place.  This can have some impact on the sport as some tribal commissions have hosted elimination tournaments where they otherwise may not be allowed.

Section 20 -This section allows states to create standards stricter than those called for in this legislation.  This would have no impact on the present landscape of the sport.



(1) Mixed Martial Artist

The term “Mixed Martial Artist” indicates an individual who fights in a professional Mixed Martial Art match.

(2) athletic commission


[1] The term “athletic commission” indicates an entity authorized under state law to regulate professional Mixed Martial Arts matches.

(3)MMA registry

The term “MMA registry” indicates any entity certified by the association of Boxing Commissions for the purposes of maintaining records and identification of Mixed Martial Artists.


The term “licensee” indicates an individual who serves as a trainer, second, or cut man for a Mixed Martial Artist.


The term “manager” indicates a person who receives compensation for service as an agent or representative of a Mixed Martial Artist.


The term “matchmaker” indicates a person that proposes, selects, and arranges Mixed Martial artists to participate in a professional Mixed Martial Arts match.


The term “physician” indicates a doctor of medicine legally authorized to practice medicine by the state in which the physician performs such function or action.

(8)Professional Mixed Martial Arts match

The term “professional Mixed Martial Arts match” indicates a Mixed Martial Arts contest held in the united states between individuals for financial compensation. Such term does not include a Mixed Martial Arts contest that is regulated by an amateur sports organization.


The term “promoter” indicates the person mostly responsible for organizing, promoting, and producing a professional Mixed Martial Arts match. The term “promoter” does not include a hotel, casino, resort, or other commercial establishment hosting or sponsoring a professional Mixed Martial Arts match unless—


the hotel, casino, resort, or other commercial establishment is mostly responsible for organizing, promoting, and producing the match; and


there is no other person mostly responsible for organizing, promoting, and producing the match.


The term “State” indicates each of the 50 States, Puerto Rico, the district of Columbia, and any territory or possession of the United States, including the Virgin Islands.

(11)Effective date of the contract

The term “effective date of the contract” indicates the day upon which a Mixed Martial artist becomes legally bound by the contract.

(12)Mixed Martial Arts service provider

The term “Mixed Martial Arts service provider” indicates a promoter, manager, sanctioning body, licensee, or matchmaker.

(13)Contract provision

The term “contract provision” indicates any legal obligation between a Mixed Martial artist and a Mixed Martial Arts service provider.

(14)Sanctioning organization

The term “sanctioning organization” indicates an organization that sanctions professional Mixed Martial Arts matches in the United States—


between Mixed Martial artists who are residents of different States; or


that are advertised, otherwise promoted, or broadcast (including closed circuit television) in interstate commerce.


The term “suspension” includes within its indicating the revocation of a Mixed Martial Arts license.


The purposes of this chapter are—


to improve and expand the system of safety precautions that protects the welfare of professional Mixed Martial Artists; and


to assist state athletic commissions to supply proper oversight for the professional Mixed Martial Arts industry in the United States.



No person may arrange, promote, organize, produce, or fight in a professional Mixed Martial Arts match held in a state that does not have an athletic commission unless the match is supervised by an athletic commission from another state and subject to the most recent version of the recommended regulatory guidelines certified and published by the association of Boxing Commissions as well as any additional relevant professional Mixed Martial Arts guidelines and requirements of such other State.

(b)For the purpose of this chapter, if no state commission is available to supervise a Mixed Martial Arts match according to subsection (a), then—


the match may not be held unless it is supervised by an association of boxing commissions to which at least a majority of the states belong; and


any reporting or other requirement relating to a supervising commission allowed under this section shall be deemed to refer to the entity described in paragraph (1).


No person may arrange, promote, organize, produce, or fight in a professional Mixed Martial Arts match without meeting each of the following requirements or an alternative requirement in effect under guidelines of an athletic commission that supplies equivalent protection of the health and safety of Mixed Martial Artists:


A physical assessment of each Mixed Martial artist by a physician certifying whether or not the fighter is physically fit to safely compete, copies of which need to be supplied to the athletic commission.


An ambulance or medical personnel with proper resuscitation equipment continuously present on site.


A physician continuously present at ringside.


Health insurance for each Mixed Martial artist to supply medical coverage for any injuries sustained in the match.



Each Mixed Martial artist shall register with—


the athletic commission of the state in which such Mixed Martial artist resides; or


in the case of a Mixed Martial artist who is a citizen of a foreign country, or a state in which there is no athletic commission, the athletic commission of any state that has such a commission.

(b)Identification card


An athletic commission shall issue to each professional Mixed Martial artist who registers in accordance with subsection (a), an identification card that contains each of the following:


A recent photograph of the Mixed Martial Artist.


The social safety number of the Mixed Martial artist (or, in the case of a foreign Mixed Martial Artist, any similar citizen identification number or professional Mixed Martial artist number from the country of residence of the Mixed Martial Artist).


A personal identification number assigned to the Mixed Martial Artist.


Each professional Mixed Martial artist shall renew his or her identification card at least once every 4 years.


Each professional Mixed Martial artist shall present his or her identification card to the proper athletic commission not later than the time of the weigh-in for a professional Mix