Yesterday, April 25, the California State Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports and Tourism Committee debated a bill that would expand the California State Athletic Commission’s power to include regulating coercive contracts between promoters and fighters. Several employees of UFC parent company Zuffa Entertainment came before the committee to speak out against the bill, one of which being Strikeforce women’s 135 pound champion Ronda Rousey.
In her above testimony, Rousey argues that the institution of such a law would not help already established fighters in regards to contract negotiations and would discourage smaller promoters from working with unproven talent. The powers afforded to the athletic commission by the bill are modeled after those already established regarding boxing promotions from the Muhammad Ali Act of 2000. Though the protections within the California bill are considered standard for professional boxers, the introduction of the same process into MMA has caused a great deal of unease.
As a sport, MMA still does not have the level of money that the combined boxing promotions in the world bring to bare. Many promoters consider introducing laws that apply to boxing into mixed martial arts to be chipping away at shaky financial ground.
By the standards set in the Muammed Ali Act, the majority of contracts used by successful promotions would be considered coercive, leading to a fear that smaller promoters would rather close up shop than risk losing money trying to change their ways.
In spite of Rousey’s testimony, the bill was approved by a vote of 5-2 and now goes to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.