According to reports, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor could sensationally help a campaign to restructure the way the promotion pays and treats its fighters
McGregor has agreed to address the United States Congress to assist a campaign looking to extend certain legal protections enjoyed by boxers to MMA fighters, according to Congressman Markwayne Mullin.
Mullin, a former pro-MMA fighter with a 3-0 record, is pushing for a bill to be passed which would extend the “Ali Act” to MMA.
The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, otherwise known as the “Ali Act”, is a federal law which was introduced in 1999 and enacted on May 26, 2000, by the 106th Congress to protect the rights and welfare of boxers; aid state boxing commissions with the oversight of boxing; and increase sportsmanship and integrity within the boxing industry. The Act was enacted in response to widespread abuse of boxers by means of exploitation, rigged rankings, and rigged matches.
The act came into effect when the United States Congress noted that there were a number of problems with the sport of boxing which needed to be changed to ensure the safety and protection of professional boxers:
Professional boxing is not governed by any league, association, or any form of an established organization like majority of other professional sports.
The state officials are not ensuring the protection of the boxers and are not aware or informed of contracts boxers have agreed to.
Promoters are taking advantage of the sport by conducting dishonest business affairs. Promoters are not being punished due to some states being less strict about the legal terms that are stated in contracts.
Promoters are not being punished due to some states being less strict about the legal terms that are stated in contracts.
There is no rating system provided to rank professional boxers thus ratings are subjected to manipulation by those in charge.
There has been a major interference in the sport because of open competition by restrictive and anti-competitive bodies.
There are no restrictions placed on contracts that boxers agree to with promoters and managers. It is necessary to enforce a national contract reform which will guarantee the safety of professional boxers and the public from unlawful contracts and to enhance the integrity of the sport.
There is nothing in MMA which protects mixed martial artists in the same vein.
Mullin is pushing for another hearing on the “Ali Extension Act” within the next two months. In terms of its extension to MMA, the de facto governing body and promoter, the UFC, is resisting the move. As the largest player in mixed martial arts promotion, the WME-IMG owned company would seriously be impacted by the act. McGregor, widely regarded as the face of the company, would find himself at serious risk of fracturing his relationship with the promotion should he assist Mullin in his push for the extension of the act.
The UFC’s chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein, who also spoke to Reuters, claimed that the company was “exceeding the requirements when it comes to health and safety and contracts”. This is widely disputed by many fighters who claim that, despite being treated as Independent contractors, are required to wear Reebok’s uniform apparel which restricts their ability to gain revenue from advertising.
What sets McGregor apart from other fighters is that the UFC system, one which appears to be less of a meritocracy at times when it comes to bagging title shots, worked favorably for him. “The Notorious” is far and away the most valuable fighter the UFC has today and has been afforded opportunities other fighters simply have not.
McGregor’s peerless self-promotional skills and ability to sell pay-per-views have earned him opportunities, such as an immediate title shot against former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and engaging in two welterweight bouts against Nate Diaz while being 145-pound champion. McGregor has also held up the lightweight division while he secured a money-spinning bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Epstein, who spoke out against Mullin’s push to introduce a “transparent ranking system” based upon independent rankings, could harm the UFC brand:
“We have been successful for one reason and one reason only – we put on the fights the fans want to see,” Epstein explained.
“That’s where we have a problem with what Congressman Mullin wants to do. (Former NFL quarterback) Peyton Manning could never have made it in the UFC, because he was a great athlete but he wasn’t a good self-promoter,” Mullin explained.
“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.”
Should MMA’s biggest name in Conor McGregor assist Mullin in his campaign to seek a ‘better life’ for MMA fighters via the extension of the “Ali Act”, against the will of his promoters in the UFC, this will likely be the biggest surprise in the career of a man known for pulling off the unexpected.