It appears Zuffa is launching federal lobbying efforts in addition to those already in play at the state level. To wit:
UFC, owned by Zuffa LLC, officially became a special interest when it retained Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to lobby on Capitol Hill.
McCain, who is now the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, sought to get the sport banned, and he succeeded in a number of states.
Brownstein lobbyists don’t face any big fights on Capitol Hill. They say their mission is to let lawmakers know how far the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), which combines karate, jiu-jitsu, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling and other forms of martial arts, has come.
“UFC is at the point where they are one of the fastest-growing sports leagues, and we want to make sure members of Congress are aware of the changes MMA has undergone,” said Makan Delrahim, a former top Justice Department official who is now a lobbyist at Brownstein Hyatt.
The work is mostly educational, but Brownstein is also keeping an eye on the Professional Boxing Amendments Act of 2007, introduced by McCain last year.
The boxing bill would establish a U.S. Boxing Commission with the Commerce Department to oversee the sport. Boxing is currently regulated by state and tribal boxing commissions.
The U.S. commission would be charged with protecting the safety and interests of boxers and would regulate boxing contracts, according to a Congressional Budget Office summary.
Critics argue the governmental boxing authority would add unnecessary regulations.
Delrahim said UFC is concerned it could be added to the bill.
“Sometimes those types of laws can become vehicles for other things, affecting other sports,” Delrahim said.
“Boxing has a whole different story and certain laws may have been appropriate, but it is a whole different operation for MMA; it wouldn’t make sense to apply the same rules.”
While this would seem to benefit MMA as a whole, one wonders if Zuffa could be interested in lobbying to favor the UFC/WEC specifically. Stay tuned.