Members of the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association were in our nation's capital Tuesday lobbying members of congress to support the Muhammad Ali Expansion Act.
While other fighter associations, such as the PFA and MMAAA, have been quiet of late, the MMAFA has kept busy working on gaining support for the bill in Congress. Tuesday's trip by fighters Lew Polley and Pete Spratt, along with trainer Juanito Ibarra, was the third trip the group has made to Washington, DC to lobby for H.R. 44, as the bill is designated in the House of Representatives, so far this year. According to the MMAFA the trips have been self-financed by its members.
H.R. 44 would amend the 1996 Professional Boxers Safety Act to include other combat sports' athletes, including MMA fighters. Authored by Oklahoma Representative Markwayne Mullin, the bill was originally introduced last May but was reintroduced earlier this year with the new congress.
Already, 16 congressmen - 11 Republicans and 5 Democrats - have signed on as co-sponsors. It is perhaps worth noting that sixteen matches the number of cosponsors the original 2000 Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act had.
The reaction from MMA promoters has been mixed. While Bellator President Scott Coker has voiced support, Zuffa has come out against the bill. As reported by Bloody Elbow's own Tim Bissell, the UFC paid $420,000 to lobbyists to work on making sure the bill doesn't pass. The Fertittas, Station Casinos and Zuffa, LLC also gave an additional $1.5 million to the GOP's Senate Leadership Fund.
Supporters of the bill are currently hopeful it will be passed by both Houses by late summer or fall. At that point the question becomes this: Will the president who had Dana White speak at his convention sign it?