Retired mixed martial arts fighters may now be able to body slam their financial worries if a new bill recently introduced by a California lawmaker becomes law.
Last month, Assembly Member Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill in the California state Assembly calling for the creation of a pension fund to help alleviate the financial woes of MMA fighters, some of whom suffer significant injuries from the violent sport.
Retired MMA fighters who are at least 50 years of age and who have fought at least 13 times in California would be eligible for the pension fund, said Nate Allbee, legislative aide and communication director for Mr. Haney.
Mr. Allbee added that if the bill passes it would be the first pension fund for MMA fighters in the country, and Mr. Haney hopes other states eventually replicate California's efforts in assisting MMA fighters.
"A pension fund has already existed for retired boxers in California since the early 1980s," Mr. Allbee said.
The California Professional Boxer's Pension Fund is currently run by the California State Athletic Commission, a body that regulates boxing, kickboxing and MMA throughout the state. Mr. Allbee noted that, upon passage, the CSAC would also run the MMA pension fund.
Bill text indicated that the MMA fighters' pension fund would be funded in a similar fashion to the boxers' pension fund, which is "funded by an assessment on tickets that is transferred to the (California State Athletic) commission following a contest of wrestling exhibition ... and by contributions by boxers, managers and promoters."
Mr. Allbee, Mr. Haney's spokesman, added in an email that if the plan passes, the ticket assessment would not be retroactive to cover past fights and would only apply to fights going forward.
"(CSAC) believes (MMA) fighters should have the same eligibility as boxers for a post-career state pension," said a spokesman for the California State Athletic Commission by email.
According to CSAC's website, the boxers' fund currently totals more than $5.3 million.