Senate May Reintroduce Ali Expansion Act For MMA Fighters

The UFC has been pushing back on the act.

A former pro MMA fighter-turned Senator-elect is reportedly reintroducing the Ali Expansion Act in 2023. 

Oklahoma Republican Senator-elect Markwayne Mullin – who went 3-0 in his pro MMA career — first introduced the act in 2017, which would expand the original Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act of 2000 to MMA fighters. Former UFC fighter Nate Quarry reported the news earlier this week. 

“BREAKING: Just got word from Senator @RepMullin that he’s looking to reintroduce the Ali Expansion Act from the senate side of things in 2023.” 

The original act has been applied to boxing and its boxers, which has enforced legal framework on contract length, structure of deals and financial disclosures that promoters must present fighters. It was designed to hit three objectives: ensure safety and promote the welfare of boxers, aid commissions in regulating events and forming rankings. 

MMA does not have this sort of protection.  

The UFC, the sport’s leading organization, has long been under fire for controversial fighter pay and contracts, to name a few.  

When Mullin first introduced the act, he explained to MMA journalist Ben Fowlkes: 

“The way it works right now, if you get a UFC contract, it’s a take-it-or-leave-it mentality,” Mullin said.  

“The UFC controls the rankings system. You control the rankings system; you control the fighters. Because the only way you’re going to fight at the top level is if you get ranked by them. 

“This language specifically says that a third party will have the jurisdiction to have a true rankings system. Then if you’re fighting for a championship belt, you’ll know it’s because you deserve it, not because the guy above you wouldn’t sign a contract slanted toward the organization and not the fighter.” 

UFC stars former middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and, most recently, Paulo Costa have been vocal about their desire to re-negotiate their contracts with the promotion. 

Costa’s reported bout with Robert Whittaker in January was officially cancelled after Costa reiterated that he had not re-signed his UFC contract.  

The UFC has the power to influence rankings, but if the act were to expand to MMA, it would minimize that authority because a third-party would step in to oversee it. 

Still, the Ali Act has had some drawbacks.  

In boxing, some athletes have complained that promoters were not providing complete financial disclosure. WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford recently took on a tune-up fight against David Avanesyan after he claimed that unified champion Errol Spence Jr and his team failed to be transparent about the expenses for their pending undisputed title fight. 

The UFC, however, has long pushed back against the Ali Expansion Act. 

Quarry also claimed, based on previous reports, that the UFC tried to get the bill rejected through use of financial power. 

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