How the Ali Act Could Reshape MMA in 2018

The United States Congress’ Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection held a hearing on mixed martial arts just two short months ago. Therein, former two-division Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder and UFC hall of famer Randy Couture joined Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin to make the case for extending the economic protections that cover boxers to their counterparts in MMA.

If introduced, H.R. 44, better known as the Ali Expansion Act, would decouple promotions like the UFC and Bellator MMA from their titles and rankings system, placing those responsibilities within the domain of independent sanctioning bodies licensed by state athletic commissions. Champions would be required to fight the No. 1 contender of their division at least once annually, and firewalls would be erected to prevent promoters from also acting as managers.

You can read the rest of this article at Sherdog.com

The UFC Screwed Robert Whittaker

So there you have it. After one solitary month, Ultimate Fighting middleweight titleholder Georges St. Pierre is no more, relinquishing the belt he won at UFC 217 and elevating interim titlist Robert Whittaker to the position of undisputed champion. GSP now holds records for the second longest title reign ever (2,064 days), which he achieved at welterweight from 2008 to 2013, and the shortest ever title reign, with 33 days at middleweight.

Surprised? UFC President Dana White isn’t. For all the BS White spewed about Whittaker being “next in line” for GSP should he emerge with the title, he admitted last week that he “expected” St. Pierre to vacate rather than defend his belt against the murderer’s row of contenders at 185 pounds.

You can read the rest of this article at Sherdog.com

 

Six Burning Questions for MMA in 2018

2017 was an interesting year to be an MMA fan. From the hotly anticipated return of Georges St-Pierre to the madness that was Mayweather-McGregor, to Bellator’s continued expansion under Scott Coker, there was plenty of water-cooler fodder for dedicated face-punching fans.

As we head into 2018 however, a specter of uncertainty hovers around the sport. Doubt surrounds the competence of the UFC’s new(ish) owners, William Morris Endeavours, legislation that would fundamentally disrupt the MMA industry is advancing through the US Congress, and Conor McGregor is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. With these issues and more in mind, these are the six burning MMA questions MMASucka has heading into 2018.

You can read the rest of this article at MMASucka.com

Travel Journal (#3): Iowa & The Full Monte

This post is about the second leg of my U.S. trip doing research for my book, “The Political Economy of Ultimate Fighting”. It covers events from 9 October 2017 to 14 October 2017. You can read my past journal entries here:

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“In boxing, you will never get a 5-0 fighter [five wins, zero losses] to fight another 5-0 fighter… that’s what I loved about MMA; everyone was willing to fight everyone.”

“I’m godfather to [former UFC heavyweight champion] Tim Sylvia’s son. [former UFC lightweight champion] Jens Pulver was over here this evening watching The Voice. I could hit [former welterweight champion] Pat Miletich’s house with a rock. We’re all still here, we’re still friends. The thing with MMA is that we’ve made lifetime relationships… you can’t have a better time than I’ve had in MMA.”

“I used to say to my fighters, ‘nothing is ridiculous, tell me what you want?’, and then I’d go out there and do my best to get it… Sometimes I would be in a standoff [with UFC matchmaker Joe Silva] for a month before we got the right deal.”

“The upper fighters, headliners and champions, would benefit from the Ali Act. The lower end guys [would] benefit from a union. For me, I can handle the lower end guys myself. I don’t need a union to negotiate good deals.”

That’s just a  few of the many anecdotes and insights long-time MMA manager and promoter Monte Cox shared with me during a phone-interview I conducted with him in September. A former newspaper editor and professional boxer, Monte began promoting MMA shows in 1996 in Iowa and soon after tried his hands at management.  He would go on to be the in-house manager for the Miletich Fighting Systems gym – MMA’s first super camp –  and would represent nine UFC champions and three Bellator champions over the next two decades. Continue reading “Travel Journal (#3): Iowa & The Full Monte”

The MMAAA One Year On

“I’m proud to announce the official launch of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association. It’s gonna be big… we’re changing the sport forever starting today.”

That was Tim Kennedy this time 11 months ago, announcing the formation of the MMAAA alongside former champions Georges St Pierre, Cain Velasquez and TJ Dillashaw, perennial contender Donald Cerrone and former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. The organisation’s aims, outlined in their inaugural teleconference, were threefold: (1) to seek an “enormous settlement” on behalf of active and former UFC fighters; (2) to revise the revenue sharing model so that fighter’s received 50% of revenues; and (3) to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that would entitle fighters to ancillary conditions like pensions and health insurance.

How they were going to do that was less clear – the group expressly ruled out forming a certified labour organisation under the National Labour Relations Act, or bringing litigation against the UFC. But they had the star power and resources give the UFC a serious headache where other efforts, such as Jeff Borris’ Professional Fighters Association, appeared out of their depth. In Rebney’s words, their capacity to create change “came from the megaphone that these athletes speak from.”

You can read the rest of this article at Fight News Australia.

Travel Journal (#2): Viva Las Vegas

This post is about the first leg of my U.S. trip doing research for my book, “The Political Economy of Ultimate Fighting”. It covers events from 3 October 2017 to 9 October 2017.

You can read my first journal entry explaining the project here.

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My first destination on this trip, not including Shanghai where I had a 20-hour layover, was Las Vegas. It was a last minute addition to my itinerary. Originally I was supposed to start in New York, but when I saw there were still tickets available to UFC 216, I figured: why not start the journey with a live event in the fight capital of the world?

Continue reading “Travel Journal (#2): Viva Las Vegas”

Scrutinising the UFC’s Response to Mark Hunt

For MMA fans that haven’t been living under a rock over the last few days, it’s no secret that Mark Hunt has, once again, gone on a public tirade against the UFC. This time, it is to protest the its decision to withdraw him from his upcoming bout against Marcin Tybura, which would otherwise have headlined the UFC’s return to Sydney next month. It’s an issue that warrants scrutiny, not just because it shines further light on the volatile relationship between the UFC and one of its biggest Australian stars, but also for the promotion’s inconsistent approach to fighter health and safety.

You can read the rest of this article at MMASucka.com