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UFC hires lobbying firm to combat extension of Ali Act to MMA

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC is making its feelings regarding the possible extension of the Ali Act to MMA very clear.

This week, the world's leading mixed martial arts promotion hired Washington, D.C. firm Farragut Partners to lobby against the new proposed bill that would bring the Ali Act to the sport, according to a release by O'Dwyers PR.

The Muhammad Ali Expansion Act was recently introduced to Congress by Con. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma. Mullin, a former MMA fighter himself, believes the balance of power in the sport leans much more toward promoters than the fighters and it's his desire to even the playing field.

The Ali Act, passed in boxing 16 years ago, is designed to protect fighters from unfair practices by promoters. Under the federal law, promoters can't bind fighters with contract provisions that last more than a year; no manager of fighters can act as a promoter; rankings and championship belts are regulated by third-party sanctioning bodies; and promoters must divulge full revenues to fighters.

There are some who believe the Ali Act would not translate in a logical way to MMA, a wholly different sport than boxing. Those in the UFC surely feel that way.

"We continue to believe the federal government would have no productive role in regulating MMA promotions or competitions," UFC COO Lawrence Epstein told ESPN.com. "Already, states regulate each bout and MMA athletes are well compensated and treated fairly, which is one of the reasons the sport is the fastest growing in the world."

The UFC hired the firm Brownstein Hyatt Earber Schreck to lobby against Sen. John McCain's Professional Boxing Amendments Act, which would have expanded and strengthened the Ali Act even further. That proposed legislation ended up being unsuccessful.