Archive for April, 2016

Although the Amateur International Boxing Association’s recent ban of headgear in competition has been somewhat controversial, a recent study has found the ban has resulted in fewer head injuries for competitors.

The recent study, published in this month’s Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, the authors reviewed “stoppages due to blows to the head by comparing World Series Boxing (WSB), without head guards, to other AIBA competitions with head guards” and further examined “the last 3 world championships: 2009 and 2011 (with head guards) and 2013 (without head guards).“.

The results showed “the number of stoppages due to head blows was significantly decreased without head guards. The studies also showed that there was a notable increase in cuts.

The study is titled “Use of Head Guards in AIBA Tournaments – A Cross Sectional Observational Study” and can be purchased here.

The full abstract reads as follows –

Objective: This study looks at the changes in injuries after the implementation of a new rule by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) to remove head guards from its competitions.

Design: A cross-sectional observational study performed prospectively. This brief report examines the removal of head guards in 2 different ways. The first was to examine the stoppages due to blows to the head by comparing World Series Boxing (WSB), without head guards, to other AIBA competitions with head guards. Secondly, we examined the last 3 world championships: 2009 and 2011 (with head guards) and 2013 (without head guards).

Setting: World Series Boxing and AIBA world championship boxing.

Participants: Boxers from WSB and AIBA world championships.

Interventions: The information was recorded by ringside medical physicians.

Main Outcome Measures: Stoppages per 10 000 rounds; stoppages per 1000 hours.

Results: Both studies show that the number of stoppages due to head blows was significantly decreased without head guards. The studies also showed that there was a notable increase in cuts.

Conclusions: Removing head guards may reduce the already small risk of acute brain injury in amateur boxing.

Copyright (C) 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

In an interesting development recently released UFC fighter Fabio Maldanado reportedly admitted to using DHEA, a substance banned by the UFC/USADA Anti Doping Policy, during his last UFC fight in November 2015.  Maldanado is quoted as follows –

I was in my final UFC stretch and they had random tests, I was using DHEA, because the doctor told me it’s good for men past 32, it’s good for your skin and your hormones.

Given this admission can Maldanado be penalized by USADA for the apparent anti-doping violation?  The answer is yes and the only remaining question is whether USADA will pull the trigger given the fighter’s release from the promotion.

As the Mirko Filipovic saga demonstrated, an admission of an anti-doping violation can be enough, in and of itself, to trigger sanctions under the policy.

The next question is does USADA’s jurisdiction end once a fighter is no longer under contract with the UFC?  The answer is no when it comes to violations that took place while under contract.

Secton 7.9 of the Anti-Doping Policy states that “If an Athlete…ceases to be uder contract with the UFC before any results management authority over the Athlete at the time the Athlete committed an Anti-Doping Policy Violation, USADA as authority to conduct results management in respect of that Anti-Doping Policy Violation.”

Maldanado is scheduled to fight Fedor Emelianenko in St. Petersburg, Russia, in a heavyweight match, on June 17.  The promoters of the bout apparently have not bothered with any anti-doping measures.  While the Russian promotion is under no obligation to honour a USADA suspension Maldanado may be exposed to fines under the Anti-Doping Policy over and above any potential USADA imposed suspension.

This will be the first test case to see if USADA is prepared to use their powers to go after released fighters.  They can do so at any time up to 10 years following an asserted violation with Article 17 of the Policy reading as follows –

No Anti-Doping Policy Violation proceeding may be commeneced against an Athlete…unless he or she has been notified of the Anti-Doping Policy Violation as provided in Article 7, or notification has been reasonably attempted, within 10 years from the date the violation is asserted to have occurred“.

 

Update April 29, 2016 – Today the NSAC provided me with the following details about the policy –

            Protecting the health and safety of all contestants is the most important goal of the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC).  To effectuate that goal, across the last four years the NAC has been encouraging various fighters licensed by the NAC to participate in the Professional Fighter Brain Health Study being conducted by the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health at the Cleveland Clinic.  The researchers conducting that study have recommended, and the NAC has adopted as its policy, the development of a database containing neurological function assessment results on all fighters licensed in Nevada.  The information in that database will be gathered through implementation of a test called a C-3 Test, which makes various neurological assessments.

            In addition to the specific requirements described in NAC 467.027 which sets forth the minimum requirements for determining an applicants’ physical and mental fitness to engage in unarmed combat in the State of Nevada, the applicant must also take a C-3 Test to be administered by a representative of the Cleveland Clinic and submit the results of that test to the NAC.  The results of the C-3 Test must be submitted along with an unarmed combatant’s application for license similar to the presently required physician’s report, ophthalmologic eye examination, MRI/MRA, CBC, HIV and hepatitis test results.  This new testing is required every time that a fighter submits an application for a license.

            The C-3 Test is a neurological function assessment designed to gather information about a fighter’s balance, reaction times, hand-eye coordination and dynamic visual acuity.  The total time to take the C-3 Test is between 15-30 minutes.  Each applicant must present themselves to the Cleveland Clinic for testing prior to submitting their application for a license.  This test will be implemented officially in the upcoming months.

______________________________________

Athletic Commissions’ statutory reason for existing is the protection of the fighters they regulate.  To this end Athletic Commissions must stay current with issues involving brain trauma and evolve regulatory policies to keep pace with the science.  This is necessary not only to stave off potential litigation but more importantly to fulfill their mission statements of looking after the welfare of fighters.

Combative sports and permanent brain trauma are often a question of mileage.  This is a reality that at least one regulator, the Nevada State Athletic Commission, is acknowledging with evolving policies.

The NSAC has cooperated for years with the Cleveland Clinic’s Ruvo Center’s Professional Fighters Brain Health Study.  The study emphasizes early identification of neurocognitive decline and prediction of long-term neurological consequences for professional fighters.

This week the Nevada State Athletic Commission, influenced with information generated from the study, took steps in a positive direction announcing further diagnostic steps for fighters wishing to be licenced in the State.

In addition to current medical requirements, the NSAC will now require all fighters to undergo assessments using the Cleveland Clinic C3 application.  This tool, a mobile application used for assessing concussion symptoms, gives a baseline assessment of motor and cognitive function.  Repeat testing can then be done to measure functional decline following concussive or repeated sub-concussive trauma.  Regulators such as the NSAC can then use this data to help determine if a fighter is fit for ongoing licencing or if its time for the fighters to hang up the gloves.

The NSAC deserves credit for this proactive measure.  I have written the commission requesting a copy of the new policy.  I will update this article  with the wording of the policy once they respond.

 

As was first reported by John Nash, the Mixed Martial 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 should indeed be expanded to include professional MMA.

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

For a balanced discussion addressing the reasons why some believe this reform is necessary and further 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 –

  1. 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 the Professional Boxing Safety Act. Amending the Ali Act really means overhauling the PBSA to apply to professional MMA.
  2. Since the proposed Bill is yet undrafted either the PBSA will be overhauled with MMA being added or perhaps 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.
  3. Since the legislation does not exist someone needs to draft it.  Perhaps the MMAFA, perhaps Congressman Mullin or perhaps other stakeholders in the MMA community.
  4. Below is how the PBSA would look like if it applied to MMA.  It is somewhat cumbersome and translates with some difficulty to MMA.
  5. Appreciating that the PBSA would not smoothly transition to MMA  and given that the regulation of professional combative sports has evolved since the PBSA has passed stand-alone legislation addressing problems unique to the world of MMA may be a more sensible option.
  6. For an example of simple legislation aimed at fixing oppressive practices in MMA, I recommend a quick look at California’s failed attempt to overhaul oppressive contracts in the sport.
  7. I would appreciate comments from anyone 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 outlined 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 provides minimal medical and safety standards for the sport.  These are less restrictive than those in place in many 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 done 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 many current MMA contracts prohibited as they often exceed 12 months and otherwise meet the definition of ‘coercive’ (ie – the UFC operates very much a league 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 perhaps one of the most significant changes.  This would require all contracts between promoters and fighters to be disclosed to athletic commissions and further require promoters to disclose all compensation the promoter is making.  In other words it would create a far 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 specific redrafting would be called for.
  • Section 16 – Another meaningful section which imposes criminal and civil penalties for those who violate this legislation.  More importantly it gives fighters the right to sue anyone 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 perhaps insightful this section would create no change in the regulation 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.

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DEFINITIONS

(1) Mixed Martial Artist

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

(2) athletic commission

(A)

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

(3)MMA registry

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

(4)Licensee

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

(5)Manager

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

(6)Matchmaker

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

(7)Physician

The term “physician” means 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” means 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.

(9)Promoter 

The term “promoter” means the person primarily 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—

(A)

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

(B)

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

(10)State

The term “State” means 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” means 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” means a promoter, manager, sanctioning body, licensee, or matchmaker.

(13)Contract provision

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

(14)Sanctioning organization

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

(A)

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

(B)

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

(15)Suspension

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

 

SECTION 1 – PURPOSE

The purposes of this chapter are—

(1)

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

(2)

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

 

SECTION 2 –  MIXED MARTIAL ARTS MATCHES IN STATES WITHOUT ATHLETIC COMMISSIONS

 

(a)

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 regulations 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—

(1)

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

(2)

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).

 

SECTION 3 –  SAFETY STANDARDS

 

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 regulations of an athletic commission that provides equivalent protection of the health and safety of Mixed Martial Artists:

(1)

A physical examination of each Mixed Martial Artist by a physician certifying whether or not the fighter is physically fit to safely compete, copies of which must be provided to the athletic commission.

(2)

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

(3)

A physician continuously present at ringside.

(4)

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

 

SECTION 4 – REGISTRATION

 

(a)Requirements

Each Mixed Martial Artist shall register with—

(1)

the athletic commission of the State in which such Mixed Martial Artist resides; or

(2)

in the case of a Mixed Martial Artist who is a resident 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

(1)Issuance

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)

A recent photograph of the Mixed Martial Artist.

(B)

The social security 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).

(C)

A personal identification number assigned to the Mixed Martial Artist.

(2)Renewal

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

(3)Presentation

Each professional Mixed Martial Artist shall present his or her identification card to the appropriate athletic commission not later than the time of the weigh-in for a professional Mixed Martial Arts match.

(c)Health and safety disclosures

It is the sense of the Congress that an athletic commission should, upon issuing an identification card to a Mixed Martial Artist under subsection (b)(1), make a health and safety disclosure to that Mixed Martial Artist as that commission considers appropriate. The health and safety disclosure should include the health and safety risks associated with fighting, and, in particular, the risk and frequency of brain injury and the advisability that a Mixed Martial Artist periodically undergo medical procedures designed to detect brain injury.

 

SECTION 5- REVIEW

(a)Procedures

Each athletic commission shall establish each of the following procedures:

(1)

Procedures to evaluate the professional records and physician’s certification of each Mixed Martial Artist participating in a professional Mixed Martial Arts match in the State, and to deny authorization for a Mixed Martial Artist to fight where appropriate.

(2)Procedures to ensure that, except as provided in subsection (b), no Mixed Martial Artist is permitted to fight while under suspension from any athletic commission due to—

(A)

a recent knockout or series of consecutive losses;

(B)

an injury, requirement for a medical procedure, or physician denial of certification;

(C)

failure of a drug test;

(D)

the use of false aliases, or falsifying, or attempting to falsify, official identification cards or documents; or

(E)

unsportsmanlike conduct or other inappropriate behavior inconsistent with generally accepted methods of competition in a professional Mixed Martial Arts match.

(3)

Procedures to review a suspension where appealed by a Mixed Martial Artist, licensee, manager, matchmaker, promoter, or other Mixed Martial Arts service provider, including an opportunity for a Mixed Martial Artist to present contradictory evidence.

(4)Procedures to revoke a suspension where a Mixed Martial Artist—

(A)

was suspended under subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (2) of this subsection, and has furnished further proof of a sufficiently improved medical or physical condition; or

(B)

furnishes proof under subparagraph (C) or (D) of paragraph (2) that a suspension was not, or is no longer, merited by the facts.

(b)Suspension in another State

An athletic commission may allow a Mixed Martial Artist who is under suspension in any State to participate in a professional Mixed Martial Arts match—

(1)

for any reason other than those listed in subsection (a) if such commission notifies in writing and consults with the designated official of the suspending State’s athletic commission prior to the grant of approval for such individual to participate in that professional Mixed Martial Arts match; or

(2)

if the Mixed Martial Artist appeals to the Association of Boxing Commissions, and the Association of Boxing Commissions determines that the suspension of such Mixed Martial Artist was without sufficient grounds, for an improper purpose, or not related to the health and safety of the Mixed Martial Artist or the purposes of this chapter.

 

SECTION 6 –  REPORTING

 

Not later than 48 business hours after the conclusion of a professional Mixed Martial Arts match, the supervising athletic commission shall report the results of such Mixed Martial Arts match and any related suspensions to each MMA registry.

 

SECTION 7 – CONTRACT REQUIREMENTS

 

Within 2 years after this legislation comes into force, the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) shall develop and shall approve by a vote of no less than a majority of its member State athletic commissioners, guidelines for minimum contractual provisions that should be included in bout agreements and Mixed Martial Arts contracts. It is the sense of the Congress that State athletic commissions should follow these ABC guidelines.

 

SECTION 8 – PROTECTION FROM COERCIVE CONTRACTS

 

(a)General rule

(1)

(A)

A contract provision shall be considered to be in restraint of trade, contrary to public policy, and unenforceable against any Mixed Martial Artist to the extent that it—

(i)

is a coercive provision described in subparagraph (B) and is for a period greater than 12 months; or

(ii)

is a coercive provision described in subparagraph (B) and the other Mixed Martial Artist under contract to the promoter came under that contract pursuant to a coercive provision described in subparagraph (B).

(B)

A coercive provision described in this subparagraph is a contract provision that grants any rights between a Mixed Martial Artist and a promoter, or between promoters with respect to a Mixed Martial Artist, if the Mixed Martial Artist is required to grant such rights, or a Mixed Martial Artist’s promoter is required to grant such rights with respect to a Mixed Martial Artist to another promoter, as a condition precedent to the Mixed Martial Artist’s participation in a professional Mixed Martial Arts match against another Mixed Martial Artist who is under contract to the promoter.

(2)

This subsection shall only apply to contracts entered into after this legislation comes into force.

(3)

No subsequent contract provision extending any rights or compensation covered in paragraph (1) shall be enforceable against a Mixed Martial Artist if the effective date of the contract containing such provision is earlier than 3 months before the expiration of the relevant time period set forth in paragraph (1).

(b)Promotional rights under mandatory bout contracts

No Mixed Martial Arts service provider may require a Mixed Martial Artist to grant any future promotional rights as a requirement of competing in a professional Mixed Martial Arts match that is a mandatory bout under the rules of a sanctioning organization.

(c)Protection from coercive contracts with broadcasters

Subsection (a) of this section applies to any contract between a commercial broadcaster and a Mixed Martial Artist, or granting any rights with respect to that Mixed Martial Artist, involving a broadcast in or affecting interstate commerce, regardless of the broadcast medium. For the purpose of this subsection, any reference in subsection (a)(1)(B) to “promoter” shall be considered a reference to “commercial broadcaster”.

SECTION 9 – SANCTIONING ORGANIZATIONS

 

(a)Objective criteria

Within 2 years of this legislation coming into force, the Association of Boxing Commissions shall develop and shall approve by a vote of no less than a majority of its member State athletic commissioners, guidelines for objective and consistent written criteria for the ratings of professional Mixed Martial Artists. It is the sense of the Congress that sanctioning bodies and State athletic commissions should follow these ABC guidelines.

 

(b)Appeals process

A sanctioning organization shall not be entitled to receive any compensation, directly or indirectly, in connection with a Mixed Martial Arts match, until it provides the Mixed Martial Artists with notice that the sanctioning organization shall, within 7 days after receiving a request from a Mixed Martial Artist questioning that organization’s rating of the Mixed Martial Artist—

(1)

provide to the Mixed Martial Artist a written explanation of the organization’s criteria, its rating of the Mixed Martial Artist, and the rationale or basis for its rating (including a response to any specific questions submitted by the Mixed Martial Artist); and

(2)

submit a copy of its explanation to the Association of Boxing Commissions.

(c)Notification of change in rating

A sanctioning organization shall not be entitled to receive any compensation, directly or indirectly, in connection with a Mixed Martial Arts match, until, with respect to a change in the rating of a Mixed Martial Artist previously rated by such organization in the top 10 Mixed Martial Artists, the organization—

1)

posts a copy, within 7 days of such change, on its Internet website or home page, if any, including an explanation of such change, for a period of not less than 30 days; and

(2)

provides a copy of the rating change and explanation to an association to which at least a majority of the State athletic commissions belong.

(d)Public disclosure

(1)Federal Trade Commission filing

A sanctioning organization shall not be entitled to receive any compensation directly or indirectly in connection with a Mixed Martial Arts match unless, not later than January 31 of each year, it submits to the Federal Trade Commission and to the ABC—

(A)

a complete description of the organization’s ratings criteria, policies, and general sanctioning fee schedule;

(B)

the bylaws of the organization;

(C)

the appeals procedure of the organization for a Mixed Martial Artist’s rating; and

(D)

a list and business address of the organization’s officials who vote on the ratings of Mixed Martial Artists.

(2)Format; updates

A sanctioning organization shall—

(A)

provide the information required under paragraph (1) in writing, and, for any document greater than 2 pages in length, also in electronic form; and

(B)

promptly notify the Federal Trade Commission of any material change in the information submitted.

(3)Federal Trade Commission to make information available to public

The Federal Trade Commission shall make information received under this subsection available to the public. The Commission may assess sanctioning organizations a fee to offset the costs it incurs in processing the information and making it available to the public.

(4)Internet alternative

In lieu of submitting the information required by paragraph (1) to the Federal Trade Commission, a sanctioning organization may provide the information to the public by maintaining a website on the Internet that—

(A)

is readily accessible by the general public using generally available search engines and does not require a password or payment of a fee for full access to all the information;

(B)

contains all the information required to be submitted to the Federal Trade Commission by paragraph (1) in an easy to search and use format; and

(C)

is updated whenever there is a material change in the information.

 

SECTION 10 –  REQUIRED DISCLOSURES TO STATE ATHLETIC COMMISSIONS BY SANCTIONING ORGANIZATIONS

 

A sanctioning organization shall not be entitled to receive any compensation directly or indirectly in connection with a Mixed Martial Arts match until it provides to the athletic commission responsible for regulating the match in a State a statement of—

(1)

all charges, fees, and costs the organization will assess any Mixed Martial Artist participating in that match;

(2)

all payments, benefits, complimentary benefits, and fees the organization will receive for its affiliation with the event, from the promoter, host of the event, and all other sources; and

(3)

such additional information as the commission may require.

 

SECTION 11 – REQUIRED DISCLOSURES FOR PROMOTERS

 

(a)Disclosures to the athletic commissions

A promoter shall not be entitled to receive any compensation directly or indirectly in connection with a Mixed Martial Arts match until it provides to the athletic commission responsible for regulating the match in a State a statement of—

(1)

a copy of any agreement in writing to which the promoter is a party with any Mixed Martial Artist participating in the match;

(2)

a statement made under penalty of perjury that there are no other agreements, written or oral, between the promoter and the Mixed Martial Artist with respect to that match; and

(3)

(A)

all fees, charges, and expenses that will be assessed by or through the promoter on the Mixed Martial Artist pertaining to the event, including any portion of the Mixed Martial Artist’s purse that the promoter will receive, and training expenses;

(B)

all payments, gifts, or benefits the promoter is providing to any sanctioning organization affiliated with the event; and

(C)

any reduction in a Mixed Martial Artist’s purse contrary to a previous agreement between the promoter and the Mixed Martial Artist or a purse bid held for the event.

(b)Disclosures to the Mixed Martial Artist

A promoter shall not be entitled to receive any compensation directly or indirectly in connection with a Mixed Martial Arts match until it provides to the Mixed Martial Artist it promotes—

(1)

the amounts of any compensation or consideration that a promoter has contracted to receive from such match;

(2)

all fees, charges, and expenses that will be assessed by or through the promoter on the Mixed Martial Artist pertaining to the event, including any portion of the Mixed Martial Artist’s purse that the promoter will receive, and training expenses; and

(3)

any reduction in a Mixed Martial Artist’s purse contrary to a previous agreement between the promoter and the Mixed Martial Artist or a purse bid held for the event.

(c)Information to be available to State Attorney General

A promoter shall make information required to be disclosed under this section available to the chief law enforcement officer of the State in which the match is to be held upon request of such officer.

 

SECTION 12 – REQUIRED DISCLOSURES FOR JUDGES AND REFEREES

 

A judge or referee shall not be entitled to receive any compensation, directly or indirectly, in connection with a Mixed Martial Arts match until it provides to the athletic commission responsible for regulating the match in a State a statement of all consideration, including reimbursement for expenses, that will be received from any source for participation in the match.

SECTION 13 –  CONFIDENTIALITY

(a)In general

Neither an athletic commission or an Attorney General may disclose to the public any matter furnished by a promoter under section 6307e of this title except to the extent required in a legal, administrative, or judicial proceeding.

(b)Effect of contrary State law

If a State law governing an athletic commission requires that information that would be furnished by a promoter under section 6307e of this title shall be made public, then a promoter is not required to file such information with such State if the promoter files such information with the ABC.

 

SECTION 14 –  JUDGES AND REFEREES

 

No person may arrange, promote, organize, produce, or fight in a professional Mixed Martial Arts match unless all referees and judges participating in the match have been certified and approved by the athletic commission responsible for regulating the match in the State where the match is held.

SECTION 15 – CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

(a)Regulatory personnel

No member or employee of an athletic commission, no person who administers or enforces State Mixed Martial Arts laws, and no member of the Association of Boxing Commissions may belong to, contract with, or receive any compensation from, any person who sanctions, arranges, or promotes professional Mixed Martial Arts matches or who otherwise has a financial interest in an active Mixed Martial Artist currently registered with an MMA registry. For purposes of this section, the term “compensation” does not include funds held in escrow for payment to another person in connection with a professional Mixed Martial Arts match. The prohibition set forth in this section shall not apply to any contract entered into, or any reasonable compensation received, by an atthletic commission to supervise a professional Mixed Martial Arts match in another State.

(b)Firewall between promoters and managers

(1)In general it is unlawful for—

(A)

a promoter to have a direct or indirect financial interest in the management of a Mixed Martial Artist; or

(B)a manager—

(i)

to have a direct or indirect financial interest in the promotion of a Mixed Martial Artist; or

(ii)

to be employed by or receive compensation or other benefits from a promoter, except for amounts received as consideration under the manager’s contract with the Mixed Martial Artist.

(2)Exceptions

Paragraph (1)—

(A)

does not prohibit a Mixed Martial Artist from acting as his own promoter or manager; and

(B)

only applies to Mixed Martial Artists participating in a Mixed Martial Arts match of 10 rounds or more.

(c)Sanctioning organizations

(1)Prohibition on receipts

Except as provided in paragraph (2), no officer or employee of a sanctioning organization may receive any compensation, gift, or benefit, directly or indirectly, from a promoter, Mixed Martial Artist, or manager.

(2)Exceptions

Paragraph (1) does not apply to—

(A)

the receipt of payment by a promoter, Mixed Martial Artist, or manager of a sanctioning organization’s published fee for sanctioning a professional Mixed Martial Arts match or reasonable expenses in connection therewith if the payment is reported to the responsible athletic commission; or

(B)

the receipt of a gift or benefit of de minimis value.

 

SECTION 16 – ENFORCEMENT

(a)Injunctions

Whenever the Attorney General of the United States has reasonable cause to believe that a person is engaged in a violation of this chapter, the Attorney General may bring a civil action in the appropriate district court of the United States requesting such relief, including a permanent or temporary injunction, restraining order, or other order, against the person, as the Attorney General determines to be necessary to restrain the person from continuing to engage in, sanction, promote, or otherwise participate in a professional Mixed Martial Arts match in violation of this chapter.

(b)Criminal penalties

(1)Managers, promoters, matchmakers, and licensees

Any manager, promoter, matchmaker, and licensee who knowingly violates, or coerces or causes any other person to violate, any provision of this chapter, other than section 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 or 14 of this title, shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned for not more than 1 year or fined not more than $20,000, or both.

(2)Violation of antiexploitation, sanctioning organization, or disclosure provisions

Any person who knowingly violates any provision of section 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 or 14 of this title shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned for not more than 1 year or fined not more than—

(A)

$100,000; and

(B)

if a violation occurs in connection with a professional Mixed Martial Arts match the gross revenues for which exceed $2,000,000, an additional amount which bears the same ratio to $100,000 as the amount of such revenues compared to $2,000,000, or both.

(3)Conflict of interest

Any member or employee of an athletic commission, any person who administers or enforces State Mixed Martial Arts laws, and any member of the Association of Boxing Commissions who knowingly violates Section 15(a) of this title shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned for not more than 1 year or fined not more than $20,000, or both.

(4)Mixed Martial Artists

Any Mixed Martial Artist who knowingly violates any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $1,000.

(c)Actions by States

Whenever the chief law enforcement officer of any State has reason to believe that a person or organization is engaging in practices which violate any requirement of this chapter, the State, as parens patriae, may bring a civil action on behalf of its residents in an appropriate district court of the United States—

(1)

to enjoin the holding of any professional Mixed Martial Arts match which the practice involves;

(2)

to enforce compliance with this chapter;

(3)

to obtain the fines provided under subsection (b) or appropriate restitution; or

(4)

to obtain such other relief as the court may deem appropriate.

(d)Private right of action

Any Mixed Martial Artist who suffers economic injury as a result of a violation of any provision of this chapter may bring an action in the appropriate Federal or State court and recover the damages suffered, court costs, and reasonable attorneys fees and expenses.

(e)Enforcement against Federal Trade Commission, State Attorneys General, etc.

Nothing in this chapter authorizes the enforcement of—

(1)

any provision of this chapter against the Federal Trade Commission, the United States Attorney General, or the chief legal officer of any State for acting or failing to act in an official capacity;

(2)

subsection (d) of this section against a State or political subdivision of a State, or any agency or instrumentality thereof; or

(3)

Section 8 of this title against a Mixed Martial Artist acting in his capacity as a Mixed Martial Artist.

 

SECTION 17 – NOTIFICATION OF SUPERVISING ATHLETIC COMMISSION

 

Each promoter who intends to hold a professional Mixed Martial Arts match in a State that does not have an athletic commission shall, not later than 14 days before the intended date of that match, provide written notification to the supervising boxing commission designated under section 2 of this title. Such notification shall contain each of the following:

(1)

Assurances that, with respect to that professional Mixed Martial Arts match, all applicable requirements of this chapter will be met.

(2)The name of any person who, at the time of the submission of the notification—

(A)

is under suspension from an athletic commission; and

(B)

will be involved in organizing or participating in the event.

(3)

For any individual listed under paragraph (2), the identity of the athletic commission that issued the suspension described in paragraph (2)(A).

 

SECTION 18 – STUDIES

 

(a)Pension

The Secretary of Labor shall conduct a study on the feasibility and cost of a national pension system for Mixed Martial Artists, including potential funding sources.

(b)Health, safety, and equipment

The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall conduct a study to develop recommendations for health, safety, and equipment standards for Mixed Martial Artists and for professional Mixed Martial Arts matches.

(c)Reports

Not later than one year after this legislation comes into force, the Secretary of Labor shall submit a report to the Congress on the findings of the study conducted pursuant to subsection (a). Not later than 180 days after this legislation comes into force, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall submit a report to the Congress on the findings of the study conducted pursuant to subsection (b).

SECTION 19 – PROFESSIONAL MIXED MARTIAL ARTS MATCHES CONDUCTED ON INDIAN RESERVATIONS

(a)Definitions

For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1)Indian tribe

The term “Indian tribe” has the same meaning as in section 450b(e) of title 25.

(2)Reservation

The term “reservation” means the geographically defined area over which a tribal organization exercises governmental jurisdiction.

(3)Tribal organization

The term “tribal organization” has the same meaning as in section 450b(l) of title 25.

(b)Requirements

(1)In general

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a tribal organization of an Indian tribe may, upon the initiative of the tribal organization—

(A)

regulate professional Mixed Martial Arts matches held within the reservation under the jurisdiction of that tribal organization; and

(B)

carry out that regulation or enter into a contract with a Mixed Martial Arts commission to carry out that regulation.

(2)Standards and licensing

If a tribal organization regulates professional Mixed Martial Arts matches pursuant to paragraph (1), the tribal organization shall, by tribal ordinance or resolution, establish and provide for the implementation of health and safety standards, licensing requirements, and other requirements relating to the conduct of professional Mixed Martial Arts matches that are at least as restrictive as—

(A)

the otherwise applicable standards and requirements of a State in which the reservation is located; or

(B)

the most recently published version of the recommended regulatory guidelines certified and published by the Association of Boxing Commissions.

 

 

SECTION 20 – RELATIONSHIP WITH STATE LAW

 

Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit a State from adopting or enforcing supplemental or more stringent laws or regulations not inconsistent with this chapter, or criminal, civil, or administrative fines for violations of such laws or regulations.

In the aftermath of an April  12, 2016 knockout loss by Mexican fighter Guillermo Herrera, who remains in a Canadian hospital dealing with the aftermath of a ruptured blood vessel in his brain, the World Boxing Counsel has issued a press release indicating they will no longer sanction bouts in Ontario, Canada citing safety concerns with the Ontario Athletic Commission’s practices.

The Commission came under fire  following Herrara’s injury for not requiring promoters to insure boxers leaving the Mexican fighter on the hook for presumably steep hospital services.  The WBC has gone further implying poorly drafted regulations and practices may have contributed to Herrera’s brain injury citing concerns with weigh ins and timelines for rehydration.  The WBC issued the following press release:

wbc       

The World Boxing Council has been communicating with the boxing authorities of the Province of Ontario, Canada, for several years. The WBC considers the Ontario Athletic Commission’s boxing regulations to be dangerous for the participants. Accordingly, the WBC has pleaded with the OAC to comply with the established world safety standards applicable to professional boxing.

The OAC conducts its official weigh-in ceremony the very day of the fight. There is ample medical evidence that the OAC’s weigh-in practice is dangerous and can be detrimental to the health and safety of the fighters.
Ontario also limits the amount and length of material that can be used to wrap the hands of the boxers. Again, that practice goes against the widely accepted standards around the world.
On April 12, 2016, Guillermo Herrera lost a fight in Toronto by knockout in 8 rounds and today is bedridden at St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto.
Besides the OAC’s dangerous pre-fight practices, it appears that there were several irregularities in connection with the fight. The Mexican fighter was allowed to travel from Mexico to Toronto without the required permit from the competent Mexican authorities. While Mr. Herrera fights as a cruiserweight, the OAC licensed him to fight in the lower light heavyweight division. Therefore, he was forced to lose a substantial amount of weight the day of the fight. At this point, it is uncertain whether the event’s promoter had medical insurance. That is one of several facts that are being investigated.
In the meantime, the WBC considers the OAC’s practices dangerous for the boxers. Therefore, the WBC will not sanction any WBC event in which the OAC regulations apply until such time that those dangerous regulations are changed, thus affording standard safety and protection measures to boxers in that jurisdiction.

 

Adding to this site’s summary of safety studies regarding combat sports, a recent literature review was published in this month’s Canadian Journal of Psychiatry addressing the link between adverse psychiatric consequences and adults who suffer concussions in sport.

In the article, titled “Knowing What We Don’t Know: Long-Term Psychiatric Outcomes following Adult Concussions in Sports” the authors reviewed 21 studies pertaining to depression, anxiety, substance use, and behavioural changes, including those highlighting chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) searching for a link between sport concussion and these mental health outcomes.  The authors concluded that “There appears to be a growing body of evidence supporting the presence of long-term psychiatric and psychological sequelae following sport concussion in adults.”.

In an associated article the author notes “Specifically, in most studies, depressive symptoms were linked to concussion. The studies with regard to anxiety and also substance abuse were few, and findings were mixed with regard to a connection with concussion. Studies that focused on behavioural changes typically identified behaviour and/or cognitive changes after sports concussion, and a link was suggested in 2 studies. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative neurological disease that occurs years after concussion or repetitive head trauma, was included in this review. This broad syndrome is associated with mood, behavior, cognitive, and substance use problems. Clear subtypes and aetiologies have not yet emerged, but there is some evidence of symptom patterns of initial onset of cognitive problems followed by psychiatric complications or early psychiatric problems followed by cognitive decline“.

The full abstract is reproduced below –

Objective: Amidst a growing concern regarding concussion in sports, there is an emerging link between sport concussion and mental health outcomes. This review summarizes the current literature addressing long-term psychiatric sequelae associated with sport concussion in adults.

Method: Several databases were searched using a broad list of keywords for each ofconcussion, sports, and mental health, with a resultant 311 studies for initial review. After limiting studies based on duplication, appropriateness of data, and relevance, 21 studies remained pertaining to depression, anxiety, substance use, and behavioural changes, including those highlighting chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Results: Most studies identified suggested an increased prevalence of depressive symptoms related to concussion history. A conference abstract and qualitative study suggested increasing anxiety related to concussion history; however, a PhD dissertation found no relationship. In reviewing substance use, several studies mentioned use in athletes suspected of having concussion histories, although no link was established, while another noted undiagnosed concussion as leading to current substance misuse. Regarding behavioural changes, all studies identified occurrences of behaviour and/or cognitive changes in participants, with 2 studies suggesting a link with concussion history. With respect to CTE, concerns with mood, behaviour, cognition, and substance use were consistently highlighted, suggesting relations to previous sport concussion; however, the notion of different CTE subtypes and clear aetiology behind concussion severity or frequency was not consistently elucidated.

Conclusion: There appears to be a growing body of evidence supporting the presence of long-term psychiatric and psychological sequelae following sport concussion in adults.

In the latest voice calling for reform of rapid extreme weight cut practices in combative sports, the Journal of Sports Medicine published an argument suggesting that the World Anti Doping Agency ban include Rapid Extreme Weight Cutting as a ‘prohibited method’.

The article, titled “It is Time to Ban Rapid Weight Loss from Combat Sports suggests that these practices as a whole meet the WADA test for prohibited methods and therefore should be added to WADA’s prohibited list.  The abstract is reproduced below:

Most competitions in combat sports are divided into weight classes, theoretically allowing for fairer and more evenly contested disputes between athletes of similar body size, strength and agility. It has been well documented that most athletes, regardless of the combat sports discipline, reduce significant amounts of body weight in the days prior to competition to qualify for lighter weight classes. Rapid weight loss is characterised by the reduction of a significant amount of body weight (typically 2–10 %, although larger reductions are often seen) in a few days prior to weigh-in (mostly in the last 2–3 days) achieved by a combination of methods that include starvation, severe restriction of fluid intake and intentional sweating. In doing so, athletes try to gain a competitive advantage against lighter, smaller and weaker opponents. Such a drastic and rapid weight reduction is only achievable via a combination of aggressive strategies that lead to hypohydration and starvation. The negative impact of these procedures on health is well described in the literature. Although the impact of rapid weight loss on performance is debated, there remains robust evidence showing that rapid weight loss may not impair performance, and translates into an actual competitive advantage. In addition to the health and performance implications, rapid weight loss clearly breaches fair play and stands against the spirit of the sport because an athlete unwilling to compete having rapidly reduced weight would face unfair contests against opponents who are ‘artificially’ bigger and stronger. The World Anti-Doping Agency Code states that a prohibited method must meet at least two of the following criteria: (1) enhances performance; (2) endangers an athlete’s health; and (3) violates the spirit of the sport. We herein argue that rapid weight loss clearly meets all three criteria and, therefore, should be banned from the sport. To quote the World Anti-Doping Agency Code, this would “protect the athletes’ fundamental right to participate in a doping-free sport and thus promote health, fairness and equality”.

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the United States District Court, W.D Kentucky, Lousiville with critical remarks about repeated requests for “enormous damage” requests in prosecutions involving UFC pay per view piracy.

In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc v. Hernandez) the Plaintiff sued the Defendant for displaying UFC 143 in a pub without paying the commercial sub licencing fees. Damages of $110,000 were sought but the court instead only awarded $1,000 in damages siting “weak” evidence.

The Plaintiff brought a motion to alter or amend the judgement arguing that such a low award would not properly deter others.  In dismissing the motion and criticizing the Plaintiff for seeking maximum statutory damages Senior District Judge Charles Simpson III provided the following reasons:

Simply, Joe Hand argues that a $1,000 award with no enhancement fails to provide a sufficient deterrent effect to meet the policy considerations behind the statute. Joe Hand has made repeated requests for enormous damages against offenders in this district (in this case, $10,000 plus $100,000 enhanced damages sought in its original motion and urged by Joe Hand Jr. in his affidavit). The court recognizes that the statutes authorize sizeable damage awards in appropriate cases. However, there is a complete lack of information offered to the court concerning the entities which Joe Hand hopes to “deter” from future acts of piracy. Such motions recite select cases, many from other jurisdictions, including the case of Kingston Pay-Per-View, Ltd. v. Lake Alice Bar, 168 F.3d 347, 350 (9th Cir. 1999) which, notably, states that “The range in the statutory award might allow for a sanction that deters but does not destroy.” The problem in this case is that the information brought before this court could not possibly justify such a large award. Here, Joe Hand indicated that the restaurant capacity was 120. However, the investigator performed a “head count” three times while on the premises on the night of the violation and noted the presence of 9 to no more than 14 patrons on each count. In the front of the store, he observed one 27″ television, with a satellite box connected to it, displaying the broadcast. Yet Joe Hand seeks a $110,000 award. Its motion to alter or amend does not seek a specific amount, but, citing Lake Alice Bar, suggests that a “low five figure judgment” would be appropriate. Joe Hand Jr., however, continues to demand in his affidavit lately submitted the maximum statutory damages and enhanced damages. DN 37-2, pp. 5, 7.

Generalities and selective cases which have not been shown to have any realistic relationship to the particular defendants against whom the legal attack has been mounted are unhelpful to the court in fashioning an appropriate award that “deters but does not destroy.” Id. The absence of an opponent swinging back against Joe Hand in the legal ring offers no justification for the imposition of an arbitrary and exorbitant damage award in the name of “deterrence.”

In truth, a number of the entities which have been brought before this court are out of business, Habana Blues Tapas Restaurant 2 LLC included, leaving Joe Hand to pursue, where it can, any remaining assets and/or the individual former owners to pay the damage award. In this case, individual liability has been imposed, and two of the Members are jointly and severally liable with Habana Blues for any damages. The defunct entity clearly will not be offending again. In most cases, Joe Hand stands unopposed on liability and damages. That is all the more reason for the court to carefully review the filings and ensure that justice is done in these cases.

Joe Hand’s argument is based wholly in generalities about the pervasive problem of commercial piracy. It urges that this court’s awards in this and prior cases are “too insignificant to address the pervasive problem of commercial piracy.” Not one case which has come before this judge involved advertising to promote a pirated broadcast, a cover charge, food sales in connection with a broadcast, or a significant number of patrons in a given venue — all indicia that the entity is “clearly profiting” from the unlicensed broadcast, as was found in Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Young,No. 5:09CV-157-R. Joe Hand Jr. urges in his affidavit that such actions are often avoided as they tend to draw attention to the piracy. This may be true. However, an award of statutory damages addresses the employment of “signals which do not descramble spontaneously.” Enhancing damages for willfulness requires a showing that the pirate took action for commercial advantage or private financial gain. No facts or argument to this effect have been offered to support of a demand for enhanced damages in this case. Whatever the merit of the “deterrent effect” argument generally, this court is tasked with imposing an appropriate damage awardin the particular case before it. This court carefully reviewed the matter, reviewed other awards and the grounds therefore, and rendered an award that it found appropriate under the facts of the case. Upon reconsideration, the court again concludes that an award of $1,000 is sufficient under the circumstances of this case. The motion to alter or amend the judgment will therefore be denied.

More details are coming to light about the recent turn of events between Conor McGregor and the UFC with the featherweight champion first announcing retirement, the UFC responding that he has been removed from UFC 200 for failing to cooperate with press obligations and that announced “retirement” has contractual implications.

Today McGregor announced he is not retired hoping to avoid any contractual repercussions and noting that he remains ready, willing and able to compete at UFC 200.  He acknowledged that the dispute indeed revolves around the amount of promotional work the UFC wants him to engage in while he would rather focus his time and effort on training for his rematch with Nate Diaz.

McGregor noted he is willing to attend a press conference in New York but little more with his statement concluding as follows:

I am still ready to go for UFC 200.
I will offer, like I already did, to fly to New York for the big press conference that was scheduled, and then I will go back into training. With no distractions.
If this is not enough or they feel I have not deserved to sit this promotion run out this one time, well then I don’t know what to say.
For the record also –
For USADA and for the UFC and my contract stipulations –
I AM NOT RETIRED.

The UFC apparently wants more promotional appearances from McGregor with at least once press conference in Las Vegas.

From a legal perspective can the UFC force McGregor’s hand? Is McGregor within his rights to put his foot down?  It depends on the language of the latest contract between McGregor and Zuffa.  If that contract contains standard language that Zuffa insists on then the answer will depend on the interpretation of the word “reasonable“.

Standard UFC contracts require the following (key words emphasized in bold)

Fighter shall cooperate and assist in the advertising, publicity, and promotion of (i) the Bouts, (ii) any and all rebroadcast of the Bouts in any media whatsoever, (iii) other UFC bouts, (iv) other UFC events and broadcasts, and (v) the sale of UFC merchandise, including making appearances at a reasonable number of press conferences, interviews and other sponsorship and promotional activities (any of which may be telecast, broadcast, recorded or filmed) at times and places reasonably designated by ZUFFA, without additional compensation therefore.  For such promotional activities, ZUFFA will arrange and pay for Fighter’s reasonable travel, hotel and meal accommodations“.

This language is broad and places at lot of power and discretion in the hands of the UFC.  The plain language of this clause lets the UFC dictate the time place and number of press conferences.  So long as the demands do not become unreasonable, a term that is open to interpretation in any given situation, they are in the right to force their fighters to attend their press conferences.

As in any business dealing where both sides have a lot to gain and a lot to lose, hopefully cooler heads can prevail and compromise can be reached.  It is not in anyone’s interest to let this escalate to the stage where a court will tell them exactly how much promotion is “reasonable“.

 

Update  April 21, 2016 – Today Conor published a statement stating he is not retired and went on record noting this clarity was being made “for USADA and for the UFC and my contract stipulations

______________________________________

In what can only be described as a crazy day in the world of MMA, UFC’s featherweight champion Conor McGregor tweeted that he is retired from the sport.  Shortly after UFC president Dana White made a television appearance noting McGregor was actually pulled from UFC 200, where he was scheduled to compete in a much anticipated rematch with Nate Diaz, for failing to co-operate with his promotional obligations.

Whatever the truth, the one thing that is clear is the main event for UFC 200 which has been heavily promoted is apparently no longer to be.

UFC 200 Promo

If McGregor is genuinely retired, a turn of events many in the MMA media don’t believe, then there are likely no legal consequences that stem from this unexpected but fairly routine announcement in the world of professional sports.  He will move on, the UFC will move on, fans will move on.

If, on the other hand, this is a ploy in a story which has yet to publicly surface, there is a chance McGregor can face disciplinary action from the Nevada State Athletic Commission for failing to appear in this event if he is not truly retired.

Nevada legislation has a rarely utilized provision dealing with fighters who do not attend a bout after signing a bout agreement.  Specifically NAC 467.132 holds that

An unarmed combatant who fails to appear in a contest or exhibition in which he or she signed a bout agreement to appear, without a written excuse determined to be valid by the Commission or a certificate from a physician designated by the Commission in advance in case of physical disability, is subject to disciplinary action

It is not clear if a bout agreement was signed but presumably the UFC would not be promoting the bout without the security of McGregor’s signature.

If that is the case the above section can, as it states, trigger “disciplinary action” from the Commission unless McGregor provides the Commission with a written excuse that they must determine to be valid.

Another interesting twist is announced retirement from the UFC now comes with further consequences thanks to the UFC/USADA Anti Doping Policy.  Under the Policy USADA can test athletes for banned performance enhancing drugs until “such time as they give notice to UFC in writing of their retirement from competition“.

If the retirement is not permanent, there are consequences for athletes when they seek to return with Section 5.7.1 of the policy stating that “An Athlete who gives notice of retirement to UFC, or has otherwise ceased to have a contractual relationship with UFC, may not resume competing in UFC bouts until he/she has given UFC written notice of his.her intent to resume competing and has made him/herself available for Testing for a period of four months before returning to competition

The UFC can waive this period in “exceptional circumstances” or where “strict application of the rule would be manifestly unfair” to the athlete but at the very least this provision puts some power in the UFC’s hands if McGregor is playing games.

It is a safe bet that this story between McGregor and the UFC is far from over and new developments will surface in the coming days.  Depending on what comes to light regulatory and other contractual consequences cannot be ruled out in the upcoming twists and turns of this unfolding saga.