U.S. Congress Will Hold Hearing on MMA

There will be a U.S. Congressional hearing in regards to MMA, as the Energy and Commerce Committee has announced “Mixed Martial Arts: Issues and Perspectives” will take place on Dec. 8.

The hearing will be hosted by the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, and it will give more information before a vote on the Muhammad Ali Expansion Act, or H.R. 5365.

If the bill were to pass, it would require MMA organizations to disclose earnings to fighters, something that isn’t seen in the sport currently, especially not in the UFC. Other effects of the bill’s passing would include: outlawing coercive contracts lasting more than a year, requiring promoters give fighters back promotional rights after a year, banning promoters from having a financial stake in the management of fighters and the creation of an independent sanctioning body to establish rankings and titles. It’d also give fighters a private right of action to sue promoters for violations, and a federal cause of action that carries penalties up to $100,000 and up to a year in jail.

The bill’s main sponsor, Markwayne Mullin, a Republican who represents the 2nd district of Oklahoma, told Bloody Elbow in a statement that this hearing will just be to inform his fellow committee members on the sport. In fact, Mullin has experience competing in MMA.

"While the purpose of the hearing is to teach the committee and the general public about MMA, I am looking forward to informing them about a sport that I want to see succeed and grow, but first and foremost we have to take care of the fighters," Mullin said. "This base knowledge for everyone will be instrumental in taking a closer look at the issues that MMA fighters are currently experiencing."

Supporters of the bill, including the newly-formed Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association, say this bill would help level the playing field between the MMA organizations and its fighters. Opponents say, however, that it would change the feel of the sport so much, create a confusing rankings system and too many title belts, giving MMA similar problems that boxing has.

If the bill passes before the Committee, it will go to the House for a vote. If successful there, it will need to be passed by the Senate before it lands on the president’s desk for signing into law.

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