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Matt Lindland claims UFC contracts are illegal

Republican House of Representatives candidate and – of course – highly respected middleweight Matt Lindland believes there is something very wrong with the contracts from MMA’s top organization.

The UFC contracts are illegal. Based on the Muhammad Ali (Safety) Act, you cannot be the promoter and the manager at the same time,” Lindland said, “If they are telling you who and when you are going to fight, they are the manager as well as the promoter.”

I am definitely not a lawyer so it is hard to fully judge the validity of the statement, but in reading the Act, Lindland does make a few good points on how much control an organization can have over a fighter.

Lindland also said that one fighter in particular is planning to test the Act in court.

I believe that is what Randy (Couture) is saying as well.”

If you’d like to read the document, please click here.

  • Gus says:

    Im wondering how much of this whole lawsuit is Dana White’s fight. I read an interview where he said he wants randy back. Is this just the fertittas putting randy through this and Dana has to go along with it or what. Dana needs to be less vocal and just run the business. He makes me not like the UFC as a brand with his bashing of good fighters. I stopped buying UFC pay per views since they started putting Randy through this. I do plan on buying the affliction ppv not only to support them, but its a great card. Better than the one this weekend.

  • cm40 says:

    That applies to boxing.
    Since MMA is a new sport that was recently sanctioned by state athletic commissions, well…. yeah, it doesn’t apply.

  • Evan says:

    The UFC offers them fights…a fighter doesn’t have to accept it. Fighters decline fights all the time..Wanderlei just did last week.

  • woooburn says:

    exactly, this isnt thunderdome

    besides, however unfair they believe the system is, without it… mma would not exist. seems like grasping at straws.

  • Sam says:

    There’s already been one comment saying, “That’s only for boxing,” but those who hold that view are in for something of a surprise. The movement is already well underway to legitimize MMA under the same standards — and, yes, regulations — as boxing, which means that laws like the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act will likely see retroactive application. This is a good thing.

  • DPK says:

    -Matt Lindland, please shut up, this just sounds like sour grapes because UFC didn’t offer him a contract when he let it be know that he was a free agent, and wanted them to make an offer. In the last few weeks we have heard about Wandy, Vera, and Joe Stevenson all say that they had turned down fights offered to them, it happens all the time. If the fighters don’t like the contract, then don’t sign it, it is no different than anything else in life. I personally don’t feel sorry for Randy at all, I would have loved to have seen him vs Nog, and even Mir/Werdum/Arlovski would have been interesting, but he didn’t want to live up to the contract he signed so I don’t feel sorry for him at all.

  • Michael says:

    This holds no water. If this goes through for MMA the UFC will have a legitamite beef that it will proibit their ability to do business, MMA will turn into bar room fighting again where anyone will fight anyone. I for one like the continuity of the UFC. The law and Randy are really reaching here…Randy’s goign to get sued by the UFC and will prolly lose, lets just get it over with so both sides can move on…i am sick of all this crap.

  • darkmetal says:

    Upon reading up on the “Muhammed Ali Act” it seems the intent was to make all fighters tantamount to “free agents” and that the Federal Govt would regulate matches to ensure fairness of who would get a title shot.

    In other words, in the case of the “Couture vs Emelienko” fight, Zuffa couldn’t deny a fight between the two based on Fedor’s refusal to sign a contract, despite the fact that Fedor refused to sign a contract.

    It would be good in that it would provide an actual ranking of fighters from all organizations (or would there even BE organizations aside from a “world govt body regulating MMA?) and the merit of the individual fighter would be the sole reason for a title shot.

    However, it would be bad in that it would also take away the capitalistic incentive to promote events. Why would Zuffa want to promote the fight between two uncontracted “free agents” when they would not make any money doing so?

    In the end the only people making money on this would be the fighter and the organization that stages the event. Fighters would be paid depending on merit, true. But what if a fighter wins but is incredibly boring? Suppose that a “lay and pray” fighter makes his way to the top and can’t speak any Engllish at all?

    By merit he could hold the title indefinitely and the MMA world would become a boring one indeed, since he couldn’t be released from any contract and fade from the scene. This would not be good for MMA.

    Also, why would you want to even promote small fighters at all? You would relegate events to only those large enough to make big numbers and big money. You would soon move toward boxing in that you would no longer have the largely unfavored underdog such as Forrest Griffin or Matt Serra competing for the title. We would see boxing-like movement to the big PPV event with a few big names, and that’s all.

    I am a bit torn on this legal action. It does seem good for the individual fighter, but it’s long term effects might actually regulate MMA into the boring hum drum boxing PPV promotion with a few fighters making huge paydays while everyone else is fighting for spare change.

  • cheapshot says:

    One thing i will say is that the big winners from the ufc controlling fighters is the fans. How often in boxing do the best fight the best? In the UFC this is pretty much every show.

    Fighter salaries is a genuine quandry for me; over here in the UK 17 year footballers are earning $2m a year and it goes to their head, they lose their hunger and desire for the game. So in one respect fighters who are just starting out on $8,000 a fight will hopefully look to the main eventers as an inspiration to better their game and move up the ranks rather than being able to live in a comfort zone. Having said that I read a pretty crazy statistic the other day showing how low the % revenue the UFC pays to its fighters; i feel this should be imrpoved upon and hopefully other organisations will continue to grow thus forcing the UFC’s hand somewhat to pay a bit more to hold onto their fighters.

    P.S: As much as i appreciate everything Dana’s done for this sport; i’ve stopped reading interviews of his because he talks absolute nonsense; usually tactical nonsense but nonsense all the same to anyone with half a brain.

  • DPK says:

    # 5 – I agree with you, that MMA wants to be regulated like boxing, it will fall under the same rules as boxing. I’m also not a lawyer, so I’m just hoping this doesn’t hold any weight.

  • -chris says:

    # 1 – Putting Randy through this? Give me a damn break, dude! I think Randy is an awesome fighter, BUT, he is fucking over the UFC plain and simple. WAAAA..I’m not making as much as Chuck..WAAAAA. He could have been done with his UFC contract by now and as a result we, as MMA fans could have seen some great fights…leading to Fedor vs. Randy, but randy is acting like a total douche! Honor the Freaking contract you signed dude, don’t try to negotiate a new one half way through because somebody else is making more. This whole thing makes me sick!

  • Jeremy says:

    If so, then isn’t every MMA company in the same boat? Elite told Nick Diaz he could not fight in Japan because they decided to use him on the Stockton show.

    Also, most fighters have an agent/manager. So how is the UFC acting as their manager?

  • ufcfan says:

    i’m sure down the line as the popularity of MMA grows
    a similar “act” will pass. which will force UFC to change their ways

    but i’m still not making the connection how a boxing act
    could apply to MMA.

    while similar, they are not one in the same. i’m sure zuffa would argue the
    same thing in the event of a legal challenge.

    #12 makes a good point, isn’t all the other mma organizations in a similar situation???

  • mike wolfe says:

    Fans of MMA sometimes talk about “classic” stylistic match-ups–striker vs. wrestler, for example. This discussion also represents a classic match-up–free markets vs. government regulation. Some say that government needs to regulate to ensure fairness, however that’s defined. Others say that having different org.’s leads to competition, and the fighters will gravitate towards orgs. that offer them the best deals. Competitors will have to follow suit. Government regulation interferes with the market, and leads to unexpected outcomes and unintended consequences that are bad.

    I find it a little ironic that in a sport that represents the ultimate in competition between two athletes, there is a push for regulation that will make the business of the sport less competitive. Ask the automakers how government regulation and unions have helped their industry in the long run.

  • roomservicetaco says:

    Lindland is right – the UFC contracts definitely violate the Muhammad Ali Act. They are also illegal in that they require perpetual employment with the UFC for a champion – contracts are automatically extended if a fighter is deemed to a UFC “champion”. And, according to the UFC, there is no way to relinquish the title to get out of the contract. This is what Randy tried/is trying to do.

  • thomas says:

    how is the system now in place, any different from how any other pro athlete is treated? you sign a contract, and your team tells you when and where to play?

    so why should it be different for a fighter to sign a contract and be told when and where to fight?

  • Kelvin says:

    The Muhammed Ali act is horrible in terms being applied to MMA.

  • bubbafat says:

    Those fighters that turned down fights did so because it was short notice (the UFC set this show up with less than 4 weeks to go). If they had done so with 2 or 3 months to spare, they wouldn’t have a job for long. It is the law, so why are MMA practitioners criticized for wanting equal treatment alongside boxers. If you don’t like that the boxing amendment will soon be applied to MMA, you should be calling out the boxers for recieving special treatment. .

  • Dr Breaker says:

    How can you not see that MMA is headed in the exact same direction as boxing. The old boxing matches that lasted for 36 rounds until one man couldn’t stand are no different than the early MMA fights, with no weight class and fighters pretty such doing anything they wanted except for eye poking.

    5 Years from now MMA and boxing will be run the same way and promoters like Don King and Dana White will have ruined what once was a great sport.

  • Sean says:

    The way the UFC works, seems to be the same as how the promoters in boxing work…They present a fight to two different fighters and the fighters have the right to accept or decline the fight…

    Certain fighters work specifically with certain promoters in boxing, so that is similar to the UFC…

    I would have like to hear from Lindland, how the process should work legally, and show where the UFC differs from other orgs…This sounds like a fighter crying over spilled milk

  • Joshua says:

    The Wikipedia stub, credibility of source acknowledged, says that the act was mad applicable to boxing because of its lack of organized leagues. But the UFC is an organized league with clear rules.

  • mattman73 says:

    How many of you guys actually took the time to read the Muhammad Ali Act?

    It doesn’t matter if you think it’s fair it matters what the court thinks is fair based on legal precedent.

  • that guy says:

    don’t the fighters have managers? ken pavia is a manager, so is monte cox if I am wrong please correct me. But if these guys are managers and there are others out there, then the ufc is only a promoter.
    this is just my quick response without research…..

  • James says:

    And, while we’re at it, let’s go ahead and make the UFC adhere to NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL regulations as well. Because they apply to MMA as much as boxing does. Seriously, how much time, money, and energy have people in (and fans of) MMA spent trying to distance it from boxing? But now, all of the sudden, it applies when it’s financially beneficial to someone? Let’s add a standing 8-count, 12 oz gloves as well — or do we only want to apply boxing regulations when it means $$?
    And why is it people understand contracts in other sports, but the UFC is the evil empire because of theirs? In different terms, I can’t decide to hold off on my mortgage payments because I think I paid too much for my house. I signed the contract, and the contract had full disclosure. And I can disagree with it all day, I can even decide I don’t want to fulfill it – but that also means I face the consequences. In this analogy, the bank should have chosen to lower my payments. Oh, and also put in a pool because that’s the main thing I want for this house. Sounds stupid, right? Because it is.
    Matt Lindland needs to get a better grasp on the English language and grammar before he pronounces himself an expert in contract law. I can’t trust him with 2 paragraphs, how am I going to rely on his judgment when it comes to legal ramifications and the application of laws in regards to specific contracts? Stick to fighting, chief.

  • mattman73 says:

    I don’t see how any of that makes sense.

    The difference between your house contract and the UFC’s contracts is that you house contract isn’t breaking any laws. The UFC’s contracts may be breaking some laws. Which will be determined in a court of law.

  • James says:


    it’s only breaking laws if it’s being held under the Muhammad Ali Reform Act. That’s the entire point of the article, champ. And unless the UFC starts promoting boxing, I’m saying it has no application. You obviously didn’t understand the original article, it shouldn’t surprise me that you didn’t understand my comparisons.

  • mattman73 says:

    Well champ, since you so aware that isn’t the only thing in question about the contracts. Maybe that is all this article talks about but I was assuming everyone that took the time to post here was aware of the other legal questions about the contracts. Such as how they can extend the length of the contracts under certain circumstances.

    But seriously how many people can say they have seen a UFC contract?

    How can you argue for something if you have never seen it?

    Show me a UFC contract and then we should have this discussion.

    Please I’m begging for someone to find a copy of a UFC contract and post a link to it cause I can’t seem to find one.

    I would love to have an intelligent discussion about them but first don’t we have to actually see one.

  • mattman73 says:

    How about anyone here at the website with all your resources can you find us a copy of a UFC contract?

    You posted a link to the Muhammad Ali Reform Act.

    How about posting a link to a UFC contract?

    Don’t we need to see the evidence to make an informed judgement?

  • alkatraz says:

    why is it in the ufc only the fighter has to obey the contract?the ufc is always letting fighters go.shouldn’t both have to honor it?

  • godzillad says:

    He’s just pissed that they didn’t offer him anything when he went crawling back.

  • Ken says:

    a contract is really only as good as the parties that sign it

    a section of a contract that contains illegal provisions would probably be ruled invalid by a court

    just because something is in a contract, does not make it enforcable. it has to be legal.

  • mattman73 says:

    Nice point Ken.

    But here is what I was wondering if a particular section of a contract is ruled invalid does that just void the whole contract or just make that section unenforceable?

    Because that section may have been used as leverage to gain something else in another part of the contract therefore now making the contract unfair in another way.

    So can you fairly eliminate one section of a contract without voiding the whole contract?

  • matt says:

    this is the same as any sport contract the nfl teams tell their players when to play and when to practice same with the mlb, nba, nhl etc. Ufc contracts are the same as any contract in sports you sign with a organization or team, they tell you what to do and when to do it and if you dont like it you decline it and if you keep decling you get fired.

    If anybody is doing anything illegal it is monte cox and adrenaline mma where monte is the president of the company and the manger of many of its fighters. That should be illegal. Ufc fighters are under contract and they have their managers such as ken pavia who help with the business side of things such as salary and who and when they fight it is not soley the ufc decisions.

    Matt lindland is not making much sense to me and with these comments if i lived in oregon i would not want him having anything to do with politics in the place i live

  • T Money says:

    you all are halarious. this type of speculation is pointless. wait and see what the court says. not that american courts are legit whatsoever.

  • T Money says:

    ok maybe not pointless, i had a laugh reading.

  • Joshua says:

    Yes, a clause can be voided without voiding a contract, for example non-compete clauses that unreasonably prohibit right to work.

  • Al says:

    Since the UFC contract is an exclusive contract and the UFC is the private sector association and league, I don’t know if you can get past section 2.1 before Lindland’s accusation fails. If the UFC were a only a title awarding entity like the WBA or whatever other lettered boxing association then I could see his point. It’s as simple as saying only a UFC fighter can hold a UFC title. To me that defines a league.

  • Ken says:

    it all depends on the language of the contract, the case-law precendent, and the judge or jury.

    some contracts have provisions that state that if one section is unenforceable, the rest remain in effect.

    so it’s up to the judge, jury or negotiating a settlement.

  • William says:

    This statute applies only to Boxing; any lawyer would see that on its face. I’m sure the intent behind the statute may be similar to some of MMA’s situations today, but that is irrelevant. It applies only to boxing.

  • tallsforeverybody says:

    I don’t want to see any boxing regulations forced on the UFC…boxing is as near a dead sport as there is. The UFC is the only successful promotion, and the way the other companies spend money and handle their business they are likely to stay the only successful business.

    What thick skulled, visionless mouthpieces like Ortiz, Lindland, etc. don’t understand is that the UFC bled money years but built this business the right way by cultivating a solid foundation of fighters and a sound business plan.

    Good business men don’t deviate from the business plan just because the competition is incompetent.

  • Ronny Z says:

    Someone at Bloody Elbow did an article why the Ali Act does more harm than good for Mixed Martial Arts. Here’s the link for those who didn’t read it:

  • Heatwaves says:

    Lindland would be singing a different tune if the UFC offered him $500K per fight and a shot at Silva. Sounds like someone fell down and hurt their feelings.

  • Jeremy says:


    The UFC champion clause is for 12 months, not entirety.

  • ACK! says:

    I’m not going to pretend to harbor any knowledge of this law, but I can say one thing for sure: Screw these companies, I just want to see the fighters in charge of their own careers while getting paid top-dollar!

  • Ken says:

    matt “the law” lindland earned his nickname by sueing the US Olympic Committee for mis-judging a match. he lost the match, and was out of Olympic competition. He sued (all the way to the Supreme Court I think) to have the decision reversed and gain a spot on the Olympic Team. He won in court and won a Silver Medal in the Olympics.

    that’s badass IMO.

    he’s probably smarter tham most MMA fans think.

  • […] Finally, Matt “the Law” Lindland also spoke out, declaring: “The UFC contracts are illegal.  Based on teh Muhammad Ali (Safety) Act, you cannot be the promoter and the manager at the same time.  If they are telling you who and when you are going to fight, they are the manager as well as the promoter.”  […]

  • Patrick says:

    Does anyone here know how Linland got the nickname “The Law”? Because if he doesn’t get his way, he cries and then takes it to court. It worked for him and getting to the Olympics. He’s just mad because he didn’t get a contract offer from the UFC. I can’t say that I’m losing any sleep over not seeing him there.
    His argument about the Ali Act is ridiculous. Anyone who reads it will see it clearly is made for boxing, where as fighters do not belong to a league, and just fight under different sanctioning bodies. The UFC is a league, just like the NFL. And in the NFL players sign contracts to play for the NFL only. And if these choose not to fulfill their contracts, they do not get paid, face legal action, and can not play anywhere else until they fulfill there contract or are released from the contract.


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