In a recent interview with the Baltimore Sun, when asked if Mark Cuban saw any holes in UFC contracts, Cuban responded: “The biggest is that their contracts don’t adhere to the Ali Reform Act. There will come a time in the not distant future when they will be required to.”
The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, sponsored by Ohio Representative Michael Oxley is a federal law that was implemented in the year 2000 in response to the practices of several boxing promoters and sanctioning bodies which contributed to the decrease in the sport’s popularity.
The stated purpose of the Act is “to reform unfair and anticompetitive practices in the professional boxing industry.” According to the Act, Congress found that the “common practices of promoters and sanctioning organizations represent restraints of interstate trade in the United States” and harm fighters through their anti-competitive practices.
In response, the Act provides that a boxer cannot be forced to relinquish future promotional rights if the boxer is required to fight in a mandatory bout with the sanctioning organization. Presumably, this part of the Act may apply to championship bouts, among other things. Other portions of the Act discuss the disclosure of the fees charged by sanctioning bodies to boxers and require the promoter to disclose financial information about bouts to the state athletic commissions.
A legal analysis of the Act reveals that Mark Cuban’s threats are unfounded. The Act is wholly inapplicable to Mixed Martial Arts. The Act is limited to boxing and addresses boxing’s unique framework of promoters and sanctioning bodies, which is not present within the UFC or other MMA promotions. For example, the UFC is both the promoter and the fighting organization responsible for presenting a fight with oversight from the applicable state athletic commission.
After reviewing his statements, it is clear that Cuban is firing a shot across the UFC’s bow. Cuban’s point is not that the Act itself might apply to the UFC and their exclusive contracts, but that at some point in the future, the UFC may have to address what Cuban implies are anti-competitive practices.
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