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PR on Wednesday Sacramento AB2100 hearing

By Zach Arnold | April 24, 2012

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UFC is bringing in the big names to schmooze with the politicians about not supporting new amendments to AB2100 that would, by law, prohibit many contractual provisions that Zuffa currently uses in standard fighter contracts. Reportedly, Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes were in Sacramento to shake various hands.

I heard names like Urijah Faber & Jon Fitch bandied about as pro-UFC witnesses for tomorrow’s testimony. It takes place in Sacramento at 2 PM EST/11 AM PST and you can listen to the hearing live by clicking here. If anyone can record the audio, please send it my way. I would greatly appreciate it (for transcription purposes). The California Channel will not air the hearing live and does not plan on airing the session any time soon on the network. So, any help here from you would be greatly appreciated.

Press release on tomorrow’s Sacramento hearing on AB2100

For immediate release

Contact: Marva Diaz (916-319-2028, Marva.Diaz@asm.ca.gov)

Professional Bill of Rights for MMA Athletes
AB 2100 Reforms Contractual Practices in MMA

(SACRAMENTO)— Assembly Member Luis A. Alejo’s (D-Salinas) AB 2100 would protect professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters in California from certain exploitative business practices.

“Tragically, many athletes who compete professionally in mixed martial arts in California are subjected to pervasive exploitation by some fight promoters,” said Alejo. “These fight promoters exploit the dreams of young fighters by promising lucrative careers. But once these fighters enter the business, they are required to surrender many of their rights. As a result, these talented athletes are often unable to make enough money to support themselves and their families in the sport they love.”

The bill would protect professional fighters licensed in California from the following exploitative, oppressive and coercive practices:

The bill also would extend certain legal protections already afforded to professional boxers under the federal Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act of 2000.

The following California fighters will testify in support of the bill at an April 25th legislative hearing in the Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media: Retired four-time defending, undefeated Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion Frank Shamrock; current lightweight fighter and former Maximum Fighting Championship (MFC) champion Antonio D. McKee; and former UFC light heavyweight turned attorney Christian Wellisch.

Others expected to testify in support of the bill is a representative from the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (MMAFA) and a broad coalition of labor unions.

“As a result of coercive contractual practices, competitive market forces have been strangled, future earnings power of the athletes is stripped away by the promoter, and purses to the athlete are artificially depressed,” said Rob Maysey, founder of the MMAFA. “There is no legal, economic or other legitimate explanation as to why mixed martial artists should be afforded less protection or have fewer rights than their boxing counterparts.”

Luis Alejo represents the 28th District in the California State Assembly, which consists of San Benito County, the Salinas Valley, North Monterey County, South Santa Clara County and the city of Watsonville.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 11 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

11 Responses to “PR on Wednesday Sacramento AB2100 hearing”

  1. Body_Shots says:

    “….than their boxing counterparts.” Yuck! The thought of MMA becoming like boxing makes my skin crawl.

    I do hope there’s some type of organization to protect the fighters rights, I just hope that when it does manifest it comes from the fighters. Not a corrupt Athletic commission like California’s looking for a money-grab.

    • nottheface says:

      Every fan should be behind these four basic protections:
      “- Requiring athletes to relinquish all rights to their own identities “in perpetuity.” This deprives athletes of the opportunity to make money from video games, clothing and other merchandise made with their names or images.
      - Pressuring athletes to sign coercive contracts by banning them from lucrative events and denying them the right to compete in important contests if they do not agree to certain terms.
      -Restricting athletes’ freedom of movement and ability to negotiate for higher pay through coercive clauses that “automatically renew” promotional contracts.
      - Frustrating athletes’ freedom to benefit financially from their own success by placing unreasonable restrictions on sponsorships.”

      When they wrote the bill of rights I wish they’d stuck to those. Instead what they came up with goes way beyond these points and seems absolutely unimplementable.

      • Steve4192 says:

        I agree wholeheartedly in regards to likeness rights. That practice is abhorrent and need to go.

        I also agree in regards to automatic renewals. Even though Zuffa has never actually invoked the clause, Bellator and pre-Zuffa Strikeforce have. Bellator’s use of multiple ‘automatic renewals’ per weight division (promotion champ, tourney champ, tourney runner-up) is particularly repugnant.

        Not a big fan of “banning them from lucrative events and denying them the right to compete in important contests if they do not agree to certain terms”. It is way too vague. I’m not even sure what it is in reference to. Care to elaborate?

        Similarly, “unreasonable restrictions on sponsorships” is also vague. What is unreasonable? Is it unreasonable for a sports entity to control what products make it on to their broadcasts? Is is unreasonable for a sports entity to ask for a piece of the pie to prevent ‘ambush marketing’? To be honest, I don’t think the UFC’s sponsorship practices are out of line with what you see in other sponsor driven sports.

        • nottheface says:

          All of them are too vague, but are a better starting point than the actual bill. As for
          “banning them from lucrative events and denying them the right to compete in important contests if they do not agree to certain terms” would include such practices as holding off a title shot until a new contract or contract extension is signed. There is a reason the Ali act banned this: the importance of claiming the championship for athletes wishing to prove themselves the best is too alluring. An official ranking system could also assist in fixing this.
          Another practice it could protect against would be burying main event fighters on the prelims and/or smaller venue shows punitively or to coerce them to sign new contracts.
          As for “unreasonable restrictions on sponsorships” yes. that is way too vague. What I would like to see some protections against is blacklisting companies who sponsor fighters outside a promotion, giving fighters and sponsors reasonable notice to any change in policy (think Strikeforce when everyone got hit with a sponsor tax unprepared) and an understanding and expectation for how much exposure a sponsor can expect i.e the walkouts, corner banners, post fight etc as well as disclosure of any financial agreements between sponsors and promoters.

          And even though the UFC has never used it and as much as some will deny it’s importance, nothing outside of a lack of competition, limits a title holders (including those in the UFC) earnings more than the champions clause.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        1) The Champions Clause is important because it protects the promoters from being bent over the coals for money beyond what is market value for that fighter. Zuffa doesn’t use their championship clauses really anymore. They negotiate in GOOD FAITH before that happens. As Steve pointed out, SF & Bellator both have, which is not the right way to use those clauses. They should be a last resort sort of thing, not the general course of business. And even then, guys who do have the championship clause are still able to become free agents… Like Hector Lombard & Eddie Alvarez. So it had no adverse effect on their fighting careers.

        2) As for sponsorship…. No MMA league puts any requirements on sponsors for fighters when they are not actually competing. Georges St. Pierre can go get sponsored by a gun or condom company any second. He just can’t wear those logos at UFC sanctioned events. And this is no different then any other sports league that has much worse restrictions on what athletes can wear during their competitions.

        So already 2 of those that you listed are bogus.

        Making athletes sign their rights away forever should be banned. And in fact, it would never hold up in court once it is contested. But the funny thing is that this only applies to fighters who nobody cares about anyways. The bigger fighters always get the bigger contracts, and then have more rights. Do you think GSP signs that same contract that a TUF winner does? Nope. But this is one thing that eventually does need to be changed across the board. The promoters should have some rights to when the athlete is under contract. But not so across the board.

        “Pressuring athletes to sign coercive contracts by banning them from lucrative events and denying them the right to compete in important contests if they do not agree to certain terms.”

        I assume this means that Nick Diaz can compete in BJJ on the side if he wants to. Or King Mo can go wrestle.

        Once again, that would make no sense based on current US athletic standards. It is very common for athletes to have in their contracts that they are not allowed to compete in other sports.

        Aaron Boone was playing basketball in the offseason and hurt himself. This voided his contract. So why should combat sports athletes be able to compete in other contests if it is going to hurt their MMA careers? It is well within the promoters rights to protect their investments.

        A lot of the things sound good from the outside, but once you actually think them through, they are bogus.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          For those who don’t know, Aaron Boone was a baseball player for the New York Yankees. He had the famous game 7 home run against the Red Sox in 2003. And his injury created an opening at 3rd base which the Yankees ended up getting Alex Rodriguez.

  2. klown says:

    This can’t work in California alone, but if other states start coming around…

  3. dragomort says:

    Something VERY odd about using Fitch as a pro-UFC witness for this….

  4. J-Rock says:

    Agree. Having Jon Fitch testifying for the UFC here is like having a rape victim blushing about the good character of the person who raped them.

    Surely he has more self respect than this?

  5. Rob says:

    If CSAC is ultra concerned about compensation and benefits of pro fighters, might they consider legislating that all boxing promotional companies begin fully insuring their athletes against injuries sustained outside of competition? Zuffa currently does this but I’m not aware of any boxing industry organizations that do. Maybe they could even have these organizations pay the premiums for all the athletes. Maybe they could also mandate that these same boxing organizations regularly pay their athletes above and beyond what they are contractually obligated to. Again, that is another occurence that is unheard of in boxing but not uncommon in MMA. Maybe they can run this by Golden Boy Promotions and let us all know how that is received.

  6. [...] both major and minor league MMA in the state, but morphed after several amendments into something far more reasonable. At this point it basically tries to invalidate champion clauses and lifetime rights grabs, stuff I [...]

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