UFC Hall of Fame member, and former heavyweight champion, Randy Couture supports expanding the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act to include mixed martial arts (MMA). In December, 2016 Couture sat before a US Congressional hearing - despite the UFC’s alleged efforts - to speak in favor of the Ali Expansion Act (aka H.R. 5365) along side the bill’s author, Representative Markwayne Mullin [R-OK2].
If enacted into law H.R. 5365 would force promoters, such as the UFC and Bellator, to disclose financial information to fighters and institute an independent ranking system that would determine which fighters are awarded championship fights. Supporters of the bill believe the new law would level the playing field between promoter and fighter when it comes to contract negotiations.
Throughout 2016 the UFC has lobbied both the US Congress and the US Senate on the Ali Act, spending an estimated $290,000 to date. When he spoke to Alex Daugherty of McClatchyDC.com Couture revealed that he thought the UFC may take their lobbying efforts a step further, by petitioning President-elect Donald Trump - a known associate of both UFC President Dana White and incoming UFC owner Ari Emmanuel - to kill the bill. White spoke on Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention in 2016. White and Trump’s association with one another stretches back to the early 2000s when the UFC would often be held at Trump-brand casino venues.
Couture stated that White, “may try to play that buddy card” with Trump in an attempt to block H.R. 5365. However, despite how long their relationship has been Couture stated he thinks Trump’s possible fondness and loyalty to White will not be enough to derail the Ali Expansion Act. “[Trump] understands fighters,” said Couture to Daugherty, who then cited Trump’s close friendship with former UFC champion and The Celebrity Apprentice contestant Tito Ortiz.
Ortiz was a highly visibly Trump supporter during the 2016 US Election Campaign. Couture also supported Trump in 2016, along with many other UFC fighters, past and present.
McLatchyDC.com also spoke to former UFC fighter Pete Spratt, who has joined the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (MMAFA) and also supports H.R. 5365. He agreed with Couture’s assessment that White’s close relationship with Trump would fall short of ending the Ali Expansion Act. “Trump is a businessman and I think he’ll be fair and see the things that have been happening with MMA as a whole and he’ll sign off on the bill eventually.”