The Ali Expansion Act is an effort to introduce the protections the Ali Act gives to professional boxers to other pro combat sports athletes.
In 2016 then congressman Markwayne Mullin introduced the legislation. It died on the vine in the Trump administration. Mullin is now a Senator and, according to retired UFC Veteran and Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association member Nathan Quarry Mullin is prepared to reintroduce the bill in the Senate in 2023.
I previously did a detailed write up of what the Ali Expansion Act could accomplish in MMA. In short it would give pro fighters the benefits pro boxers enjoy such as
- coercive contracts being prohibited. This means contracts that over 12 months that also require rights to be given to the promoter to allow the fighter to compete against another athlete who is under contract with that promoter (very common in the MMA industry)
- In house titles would be eliminated and titles would instead be overseen by outside sanctioning organizations. These organizations are regulated under the legislation with requirements for objecting ranking criteria and other protections for the fighters
- all contracts between promoters and fighters wound need to be disclosed to athletic commissions and further promoters would be required to disclose all compensation the promoter is making. In other words it would create a far more informed negotiating landscape.
- A firewall would be in place between promoters and managers for all MMA fighters and other ‘fighters’ captured by the Bill who compete for 11 minutes or more (basically all MMA fighters who compete in 3 round fights)
- Imposing 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.
If this legislation passes it will be a game changer not just for MMA but for many other professional combat sports that operate outside the protections of the Ali Act. The Bill previously enjoyed bipartisan support and presumably will again. While there was reason to believe the Trump administration would not favor it getting over the finish line the Bill may enjoy a more favourable outcome under Biden’s administration. This development is worth keeping an eye on.