Subcommittee Members Discussed Health and Safety of Fighters and the Role of Congress in this Multi-Billion Dollar Industry
WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), today held a hearing to examine the economic potential and issues at play within the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) industry. The hearing provided an opportunity to learn more about this popular and quickly-growing sport. During the hearing, members discussed the health and safety of fighters, the economic potential of this industry, and reviewed the current rules and regulations guiding the sport.
Providing members with a brief overview of the athleticism and training required of fighters, Randy Couture, President of Xtreme Couture, testified, “(I)t is a sport that involves world-class and Olympic athletes involved in all disciplines of martial arts, including wrestling, judo, jiu-jitsu, muay-thai, karate and boxing.” Drawing distinct differences between boxing and MMA, Mr. Couture outlined some of the challenges fighters face with regard to promotional titles, long-term contracts, and merchandising.
A reoccurring theme echoed by witnesses and members alike throughout the hearing is the broad success and popularity of MMA across the country. While each state has legalized MMA, regulations vary from state to state. Chairman Burgess noted “State athletic commissions have generally promulgated rules that prohibit certain maneuvers in the ring, require certain equipment, and provide for athlete drug testing.” He goes on, commenting that “[s]ome states are stricter than others, depending on the state’s resources and how popular the state is as a venue for MMA.”
Chairman Burgess speaks with Randy Couture at the conclusion of the #SubCMT hearing.
Jeff Novitzky, the Vice President of Athlete and Health Performance at the UFC, relayed that much emphasis is placed on educating athletes and coaches on “relevant health and safety issues” so they can train and fight in a safer manner. He continues, “Our goal is to make them [fighters] more informed, and thus practice safer weight management to mitigate any health consequences and help maximize their performance.”
Offering similar sentiments on the importance of fighter safety was Lydia Robertson, the Treasurer of the Association of Boxing Commissions. Recalling the important theme of training to ensure safety she said, “The ABC’s interest is [always] focused on fighter health and safety. How do we protect fighters, sometimes from themselves, and yet still allow the mixed martial arts to be a competition? What medical minimum standards should be in place? Our interest is [always] on the fighter, fair treatment of the athletes, and their future.”
For more information on today’s hearing, including a background memo, witness testimony, and archived webcast, click HERE.