I've touched on this a bit in the past and I don't think anything has happened recently that changed my mind. But here is what I said back in April:
A lot of people clamor for an "Ali Act" in MMA. But the point of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act was to provide guidelines for boxing as it had no league or central rule-making body. MMA has several leagues, each providing their own rules (within the guidelines of state athletic commissions). An "Ali Act," at least the exact point of the act, doesn't work for MMA. I don't disagree with the need for slightly more oversight into the contracts fighters sign, but generally I think the current landscape of MMA is a lot better than people credit it as being. This is especially true when compared to boxing. When a fighter is a free agent he is able to seek out the best deal from a large group of organizations. He is not forced to pay fees to compete in these organizations should his ultimate goal be to be champion. A fighter in MMA has options galore in a sport where promotions want to put on the best and most compelling matches possible.
There are 5 exploitative business practices that the Act is supposed to address which Rob Maysey claims all apply to the current MMA landscape:
1. long-term promotional contracts and options hurt the boxer and the sport;
Long term promotional contracts in boxing are with individual promoters not with sports franchises such as the UFC. The freedom to seek another promotional contract is much more important in a sport that is headless than it is with the organized franchise structure of MMA. If anything, shorter contracts with promotions would damage the landscape of MMA as you'd likely have no stability. You can not force organizations to allow for cross-promotional fights, so instead you're going to have fighters basically "Fedoring" their way through their career. One fight here, one fight there and the lack of being tied to a promotion doesn't push for a fighter to fight the best competition. Look at the way Fedor's career was when he was tied to PRIDE and then compare it to once he became a "free agent" doing single fight deals here and there. Tell me which you think is better for the landscape of MMA.
2. Organizations do not have credible ratings procedures;
The ranking procedures are pretty minor in MMA compared to boxing. Each individual franchise is able to make the match-ups that will make themselves (and in turn the fighters) the most money. In boxing there is a level of corruption with the ranking organizations where promoters routinely get their (unworthy) fighters ranked through underhanded means to get a title fight. Why? Because title fights mean more money in boxing. Plus you get into the sanctioning fee aspect of things with the boxing organizations. Has the act done anything to address these ranking procedures? Not a single thing honestly. In MMA the belts are organizationally dependent. It does no good for the UFC to put someone unworthy in a title fight. Has it happened? Sure, but usually as the result of an injury or lack of better options. The UFC (or EXC or anyone else) is not going to take money to put someone undeserving in a title fight because that belt represents their company as a whole. If the status of the belt is diminished then the value of the company is also diminished.
3. Organizations have inconsistent procedures, and state regulations do not adequately regulate promoter contracts;
These are sports franchises, not ranking or sanctioning bodies. There don't need to be consistent procedures for how they are doing business as long as they are doing so legally. Pepsi doesn't run its business the same as Coca-Cola...and that is fine. These franchises should be allowed to operate in any (legal) way that they see fit to make a profit. Profit made by sports franchises trickles down into the amount of money that fighters make. So fighters are benefited by organizations putting on cards that they feel will attract the most viewers (read: money). I don't see any way that MMA contracts need to be regulated in the same manner as boxing contracts simply because these franchises operate daily business differently from each other.
4. Difficulty for state commisssions to individually monitor promoter-boxer contracts, and necessity of a federal mechanism to prevent hidden agreements
I will never argue against a bit more oversight on the contracts fighters are signing. And the "hidden agreements" thing could easily be applied to the "under the table bonuses" that fighters are getting. However, I have a feeling if you were to ask the fighters if they'd like to get rid of those bonuses they'd probably say no. A bit more transparency would be a good thing...But again, you have to remember the difference in how MMA and boxing work.
5. Promoters forcing boxers to give options in return for getting a title fight.
I don't think this really applies in the current MMA landscape in any real way. I suppose the rumored (I have never heard this actually confirmed) "auto-renewing contracts" if a fighter is a champion in the UFC could fit to a degree. Even if the contracts which automatically renew if you are champion do exist I can't say that it is a bad thing. If champions were leaving organizations with regularity you'd have an even more confusing and less stable environment for the sport. Again, I don't think any major organization is intentionally screwing with the championship situation for any corrupt means. I guess Forrest Griffin may not be the true number 1 contender for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. But it is a fight that should make a good deal of money, and he did beat who was generally considered the #1 light heavyweight in the world in Shogun. So that is hardly a "corrupt" move. I just don't see where things are that bad when it comes to the MMA title scene.
I can not stress enough that the Ali Act was created for a sport with a completely different organizational structure than MMA. To simply say "what is good for one has to be good for the other" shows an ignorance in understanding the differences and a willingness to play with fire in regards to changing the make-up of the sport's landscape. If you want to push for an act specifically catered to MMA, with a focus on ensuring that fighters are being compensated fairly, are provided with health insurance and have a pension plan set up (ironically all focal points of WAMMA, an organization which I am not a fan of) I am all for that. But if you're familiar with boxing you'll notice that the Ali Act has done nothing to address any of those things for the very sport it was created for...do we really think it would do so for our sport?
As the Korean proverb says "Carve the peg by looking at the hole"