MMA star-turned Hollywood actor Randy Couture has outlined what has to happen in order for Conor McGregor to potentially branch out on his own to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Couture says the Ali Act, introduced in 1999, can be the catalyst that would see McGregor broker his own deal for a Mayweather super-fight.
“Well, we expect it will probably take at least until June, especially with the transition going on, but obviously the transition is moving faster than people expected,” Couture told Submission Radio.
“Again, with the chairman, the vice chairman and the senior member not opposing the language in the bill and what we’re trying to do, that gives it an opportunity to be fast-tracked. So we’re potentially looking within the next two to three months that we’ll take this to a vote instead of waiting six months till June. Once it’s in a vote, there will be a transition – If it obviously gets approved – there will be a transition period for the sport.
“You know, it doesn’t happen overnight. You’re not just going to flip the switch and change the system overnight. It’s going to take some time to change the system and comply basically with the federal legislation. And I don’t know how much you guys know or understand what’s going on, but the flaw that’s basically being used in mixed martial arts is that the promoter and the sanctioning body in mixed martial arts are the same person. It’s a lot of power. It definitely skews the leverage and power in favour of the promoter, who is also the sanctioning body setting up the rankings and the titles that we as athletes hope and aspire to fight for.
“That leverage and power allows them to sign fighters to very exclusive, very limiting contracts, signing away their ancillary rights and many other things in perpetuity forever that normally under the Ali Act with boxing would not be allowed. So that’s the biggest thing that the Ali Act does for us as mixed martial artists, is it changes that structure, it separates those powers.”
Asked what the UFC would think about the Ali act being so close to being a reality in MMA, Couture replied: “Well it wouldn’t just change the UFC’s business practices, it would change the business practices for the entire sport. All the promotions are using the same flawed system. And I mean yeah, again, I think if it gets passed there’s gonna be a transition period where the promotions are going to have to decide whether they’re gonna remain a sanctioning body that sets rankings and titles or if they want to be a promoter that promotes fighters to fight for those rankings and titles. The change would create an open competitive market.
“Right now, it’s a very closed anti-competitive market. 90 percent of the funds that they generate in our sport right now are coming through the UFC, so obviously they don’t want to see this change. They’ve had a license to basically to print money off the backs of fighters since 2000, since the last 16 years. Certainly, the new owners maybe didn’t understand or didn’t see what was potentially coming, but I absolutely believe the Fertittas knew what was coming with the class action lawsuit and then now the fighters uniting with the fighters association and trying to get the Ali act amended to protect us like is does boxers. So I’m sure it’s gotta be concerning to them. They are lobbying, they’ve hired lobbyists and my understanding is they’ve spent over a million dollars with lobby groups trying to shut this down and tyring to spin it and convince people that it doesn’t need to be changed, that it should just stay the same – which in my opinion is a lot tougher position to sell. But it’s gonna be an interesting year, for sure.”
On McGregor either using his own brand to seal the Mayweather bout or potentially working with UFC boss Dana White, Couture said: “We’ve already seen the complete 180 from Dana. Rather than fighting Conor, where he was stripped of his 145-pound title and even dropped out of the top ten rankings in that weight class having not lost a fight, I think was backlash for his public voice about the boxing match. We’ve already seen Dana do a complete 180 and now he’s offering both Mayweather and McGregor significant amounts of money to be involved and promote that boxing match.
“So I think (John S) Nash’s estimation is exactly right, which is exactly why this is helping our movement and what we’re trying to do on the federal legislative level with the Ali act.”