It looks like the storm is finally here, and its getting ugly…
For years now former and current employees of the UFC have been complaining about poor treatment. From ‘slave’ wages to archaic contracts and everything between, it looks as though their voices are finally being heard.
Currently and for a long time the worlds largest MMA promotion, the UFC was sold earlier in the year for $4.2 Billion. Alarming questions are then raised when you learn some fighters can’t even cover the cost of training camps.
MMAFA & The Ali Act
The mixed martial arts fighters association (MMAFA) has been formed for some time now. Numerous members including Cung Le and Nate Quarry are currently tied in the anti-trust lawsuit against the UFC.
Now the MMAFA is finding success in getting the Ali Act enabled in all mixed martial arts, the UFC is being forced to pay attention. During a hearing in today’s congress, things got very real.
UFC Tries To Gag Randy Couture
Former UFC light-heavyweight and heavyweight champion Randy Couture is a legend of the sport. Sadly during the beginning and even at the end of his legendary career, ‘Captain America’ faced ill treatment by the UFC.
The promotion even threatened to withdraw from today’s hearing if Randy Couture testified. They also protested the presence of Cung Le and Nate Quarry because of their involvement in the anti-trust lawsuit.
Here’s a lowdown of exactly what happened during today’s hearing, courtesy of the Wichita Eagle:
Randy & The MMAFA’s Latest Fight
Couture said the UFC “uses rankings and titles to manipulate fighters” and railed against the multi-billion dollar company’s control of athletes during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Couture, along with representatives from the UFC, testified before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, chaired by Fort Worth-area Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas.
“Once more, we turn our attention to something Congress has not focused upon before,” Burgess said during his opening statement. “As the industry continues to evolve swiftly, now is the time to bring Congress up to speed on MMA, and understand if there is a role Congress should be playing in this multi-billion-dollar industry.”
Couture appeared on Capitol Hill to support expansion of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, a piece of legislation that became law in 2000, that currently protects boxers but not mixed martial arts athletes from oppressive promoters.
The Ali Act would Ensure Fair Treatment For Fighters
The Ali Act, sponsored by Mullin, would require promoters to report their full amount of revenue, bans oppressive contracts and institutes an independent ranking system for athletes.
The UFC opposes the effort, and attempted to prevent Couture from testifying.
“Unlike in boxing and kick-boxing, MMA promoters do not, and have not been required by the athletic commissions to utilize independent or objective rankings,” Couture testified. “In addition to the lack of independent rankings, MMA promoters also issue their own championship titles. To even be considered to compete for these promotional titles, athletes are required to sign exclusive, long-term contracts removing these athletes from the competitive marketplace.”
Mullin sparred with UFC vice president Jeff Novitzky during questioning, who argued that the UFC protects its fighters through anti-doping measures.
Don’t Try The Doping Defense
“We have the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which is the officially recognized anti-doping agency in the United States…so that’s one of the beauties of our program. We don’t police ourselves, we have an independent authority.”
Mullin shot back.
“Then How did Brock Lesnar get a pass this past July to not have to test?” Mullin asked.
“That’s not accurate that he got a pass in terms of testing” Novitzky said.
“Yeah, I believe it is, I can submit that article for the record,” Mullin shot back cynically.
Another issue that was discussed was the impact head injuries for MMA athletes, even though the Ali Act addresses rankings and concerns with promoters.
“CTE is a big problem for contact sports, and what we know today is very likely only the tip of the iceberg,” Ann McKee, a professor of neurology at Boston University said during her testimony. “We found evidence of CTE in the only [sic] MMA fighter we examined, a 27 year old who took his own life, and there is good reason to believe that a significant portion of other MMA fighters are at risk for CTE.”