tv Public Affairs Events CSPAN December 11, 2016 9:40pm-11:01pm EST
minister isreign working to see how the service can be improved. >> order. >> you have been watching prime minister's questions from the british house of commons. watch live on wednesdays at 7:00 a.m. eastern and 4:00 a.m. pacific on c-span 2, or anytime at www.c-span.org, where you can video of prime minister questions and under british public affairs programs. tomorrow a discussion on what progressives can do to advance their agenda during a donald trump administration. fromers include officials the center for american
progress, the center on budget and policy priorities, the center for community change and a center for hunger free communities. now, a house hearing on the safety issues related to the sport of mixed martial arts. this is about one hour and 20 minutes. >> the subcommittee on commerce manufacturing and trade will now come to order. the chair recognizes themselves for five minutes. good morning to all of our witnesses.
we appreciate you being with us this morning. before we turn to the matter at hand, i do want to make note of the fact that this is our last hearing before the 114th congress. i want to thank my vice chairman from new jersey and the ranking member of illinois for their hard work and the hard work of all of our members. energy and commerce committee itself is probably one of the most productive committees on capitol hill. the commerce manufacturing trade committee has justifiably earned the reputation as the think tank of the energy and commerce committee and i would just note to the members on the dais that we have passed over two dozen pieces of legislation from members on both sides of the dais over the last two years and one of the most productive legislative competence for this subcommittee in several years. so, thank you to the participation of all of our members. i believe, we have been punching above our weight.
i am happy to close out this with my colleague and look forward to a busy agenda next year. once more, we turn our attention to something where this is plowing new ground for congress. as broad and varied as our jurisdiction is, mixed martial arts, especially the industry of mixed martial arts is probably a new concept to some of us. in fact, it is to your chairman. as the industry continues to evolve swiftly, it seems now is the time to bring congress of to speed on mixed martial arts and understand if there is a role that congress should be playing in this multibillion dollar industry. i want to thank congressman mullen for making sure this issue was on the subcommittee's agenda. the latest major mixed martial arts event drew a little under 2 1.5ion viewers and around
million pay-per-view buys. it generated $18 million at the gate, 1.5 million o dollars of which went to the state of new york and taxes. perhaps most importantly, since about half of the mixed martial arts fan base is comprised of millennials, the event created 14 billion social media impressions, which nielsen now tracks. the winner at the top of the $40 million.de but does not match what it taught boxing fight brings, but there is no longer a doubt that mixed martial arts is ready for prime time and there is no doubt it is an economic driver. in our previous hearings we have grappled primarily with athlete safety and implications of safety rules on youth sports. the safety of mma fighters is of importance and this will figure into our broad discussion of how the industry works and how it is
regulated at the state level. the politics around combat sports are tough. to some degree, fighters assume risks. legalizedtes have next martial arts. state athletic commissions have generally propagated rules that prohibit certain maneuvers in the ring, require certain equipment, and provide for athlete drug testing. some states are stricter than others, depending upon a state's resources, how popular this day is as a venue for mixed martial arts. as with boxing, fighters must generally obtain a license to fight. states and the major promotions also require physicians to be president and make sure the fighters are healthy before, during, and after a bout. i thank the panelists who are here today. i look forward to a lively and
interesting discussion and i would like to yield to the gentleman from new jersey for his opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in my three terms serving on the energy and commerce committee this has been by far the most productive session for the commerce manufacturing and trade subcommittee. due in large part to the leadership of dr. burgess and the hard work of the committee staff. to the highly successful disruptor series, cmt has asserted itself as the principal sub subcommittee our economy needs to thrive. we have acted on information learned from these educational hearings by passing bypartisan targeted legislation and beginning the first legislative update to the federal trade commission in 20 years. we have also passed legislation to help consumers. for example, to review their experiences without businesses engaging in retribution. under dr. burgess' leadership, cmt has also provided vigorous oversight of the takata airbag
recall, the largest safety recall in automotive industry history. congratulations, dr. burgess, on an effective session and i look forward to continuing our work on these important issues and other issues in the full committee next congress. i also take a moment to recognize outgoing chairman fred upton of the full committee. today is a historic and important day as the 21st century cures act goes to the president's desk. i wish everybody a merry christmas and a peaceful millionaire and particularly, safety to our troops, our magnificent troops across the globe, who protect us and the american people in general. mr. chairman, i yield back the balance of my time. >> the chair thinks the gentleman for his remarks. he knows the gentleman went a little over, but because his remarks seemed important and you are thinking the chairman, i consented that the gentleman
should be permitted to do that. i first want to thank the ranking member of the committee for being here as well and for a very productive two years on the commerce manufacturing and trade subcommittee. and i recognize you for five minutes for the purpose of an opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you, too. it's been a very interesting and i think productive session of congress and it has been a personal pleasure to be able to serve with you as the chairman and myself as the ranking member. i also want to wish everyone a merry christmas and a happy hanukkah, which actually happened to fall at the same time. then to the business of the morning. when i first heard we would be having a hearing on mixed martial arts i was surprised. fan.fess, i am not an mma i have had to learn a little more about mma in preparation for the hearing.
i don't think it is going to be my new hobby. however, you don't have to be an needan to recognize the for greater negotiating power and a stronger protections for mma fighters. our colleague, congressman mullen, used to be an mma fighter. i chatted with him yesterday. i also met with other mma fighters in my office. the lack of leverage they have within their contract negotiations is frankly, pretty shocking. and that comes through when you look at the differences in pay and benefits between mma and other sports. congressman mullen comes to it as a fighter. i come to it as a fighter for worker rights and safety. but today that puts us on the same side. when i saw what mma is, the mother in me came out a little bit. i don't know why you would do that to yourself, but mma
fighters love their sport and they should be able to fight. i do however, want to make sure that they are not putting -- they are not put in unnecessary risk. is very intoghters a goal. fighters only get paid if they are in a match. they have to secure their own health insurance because the promoters insurance just covers injuries within a match, not the injuries that frequently happen in weeks of training before hand. that forces fighters to push themselves, sometimes at great personal risk. mma can involve blows to the head. immediately raises concerns about brain injury, which we have seen in other context boards. two months ago, a 25-year-old jordan parsons became the first mma fighter to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. this should not be surprising.
research has shown repetitive hits to the head have curative long-term affects to brain function and physiology and could increase the risk of cte. the members ofto the energy and commerce committee. last march, in response to a question i raised, the nfl representative admitted for the very first time a definite link between football and cte. dr. mckee, who we will hear from today, was at that round table. representatives and i have been pressing the national hockey league to do more to reduce risk of head injuries. mma is the latest sport where cte is an issue. we have seen some progress at the state level already. new york state included a provision in its mma legislation that recognizes the risk of brain trauma and requires mma promoters to carry insurance to cover treatment of life-threatening brain injuries. if knowing the risks, adults
that want to be part of mma, that is all right. but fighters and promotions should take some basic precautions and fighters issued have the leverage to stand up for their own safety. has written testimony and she provides some recommendations on the risk of brain injuries in mma. we also need to support further research on the connection between cte and contacts for its, so adults know the risk. is especially critical given the risk to young athletes. according to espn, an estimated 3.2 million kids 13 and under now participate in mma. kids can start classes as early as six years old. for leagues bamn head hits the younger kids.
however, dr. rebecca carl warns that kids don't need to be hit in the head to experience brain injury. the force of being thrown to the ground is enough to injure the brain. that's a quote. to continue the quote, i don't think there's enough data available to say that mma is safe for children, unquote. i want to further explore how mma can be safer and fairer for fighters of all ages. i want to thank the witnesses for being here today. i look forward to your testimony. i yield back. >> lady yields back. the chair think the gentlelady and now recognizes the gentleman from oklahoma five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. real quick, i want to correct maybe something misspoken. the top fighter received over $40 million in payouts. it was not even close, which i know is just misspoken. the top ticket on a receive combined $4 million. compared to boxing it is a big
difference. i just want to make sure everybody understands the difference. >> the chair think the gentleman and will correct the record. >> thank you, mr. terran for examining a sport i -- thank you, mr. chairman for examining a sport i am passionate about. this informational hearing is vital to educate the members of this committee and the public on the history, current status and future of mma. as we looked at issues from contract to health, to anti-doping and conflicts of interest, i hope we can keep the fighters in mind. without them there is no ufc, no sport. the promoters have done so much to grow the sport. but the fighters are what make this sport so compelling and so great to watch. the sport is much different than when i was younger. there was more media, more money and what brings -- with that brings more fans. as mma continues to grow, we need to make sure we keep it growing with everybody. before i yield back, i want to
highlight my bill, the mohammed ali expansion act. although it is a big focus in this hearing, it is relevant. i look forward to hearing the perspectives of our witnesses and the legislation on the issues that addresses with fighters contracts the ranking system and the role of managers and promoters. it's my hope that all members of this committee leave this hearing with a better understanding of mma and will continue working in the next congress on the issue that affects all parties in this room, especially the fighters. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> the chair thanks the gentlemen. we will conclude with member opening statements. seeing no other members wishing to offer an opening statement, the chair will remind members that pursuant to committee rules, all opening statements will to be made part of the committee record. we do want to thank all of our witnesses for being here today, taking time to testify before the subcommittee. today's witnesses will have an opportunity to give opening statements, followed by questions from members.
our witness panel for today's hearing includes the honorable jeff denham from california. thank you for being here this morning. representative mr. jeff novitzky. miss lydia robinson. she's the treasurer at the association of boxing commissioners and combative sports. dr. ann mckee, professor at boston university school of medicine. and mr. randy cotour. we appreciate each of you being here today and we will begin our panel with representative than him. you are recognized for five minutes for an opening statement, please. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to think the chairman and ranking member. i also want to thank representative mullen for bringing this issue to the forefront. it is an important issue to address and make sure there are
minimum mandatory requirements as we move forward with this great sport. i had the opportunity to enjoy another great sport, boxing. i smith a lot of time -- i spent a lot of time in and around the ring, but he also saw the challenges and lasting impacts that those who engage in it could have. i believe that we need to have some minimum standards because the health of a fighter is not addressed, you will have a fighter who gets back into the ring early or before they are completely healed. if that happens, that lends itself to have your inheritable, long-term damage as well. impactseen the lasting of the friends that have gotten back into the ring too early, or
before they were completely healed. i do believe the boxing industry has changed. in 1996, the professional boxing safety act made some changes and the middled health and safety standards for professional boxing with limited federal oversight by department of justice and the federal trade commission. i don't want to see congress insert itself so much that it really interferes with the great sport. but i do believe that there needs to be some minimum mandatory requirements. i also believe that as any business, you hire people. you expect them to operate on your behalf. so i hire a manager, much like i would hire a chief of staff or somebody to manage my company. i expect them to operate on my behalf. i think there needs to be some transparency between the manager and any type of payment outside of a fighter that they might be receiving. 2000, afterct in
the 1996 initial act, the ali act addressed that issue. it also addressed some consistency across the states to make sure that boxing commissions across every state had those minimum contracts as well. much like boxers, mma fighters also receive a card. but i think it's important we have a consistent health inspection for the safety of the fighter to make sure that they are prepared to go back into the ring, back into the battle, and they are fully healthy and prepared to do so. those minimum standards i think are very important across the country, making sure that our state boxing commissions or in this case, mma fighters have that same safety, health inspection, a clearance to get back into the ring so that they -- their future is safe as well. there are other experts up here
that will talk about the rankings and contract negotiations. i think those are important discussions to have right now. but i don't think that there's anything more important than the health and safety of the individual that is engaging in an incredible, great sport. i want to see mma continue to flourish. i'm a big fan. but as a former boxer, i also know that the safety that can go with that sport needs to be addressed as well. i am proud to be a co-author of this bill and look forward to working with you as we have future hearings and future amendments and go through the continued process. this is something that i think is not only exciting to address but it is something that is critically important to address. again, i want to thank mr. mullen for bringing this to the forefront. thank you for allowing me to testify. >> chair thanks the gentleman. vizky, you are now
recognized for five minutes. >> it's an honor to be here today with my fellow witnesses. my name is jeff novizky. >> is your mic on? we all agree with what enamre ntativ representative just said. in april of 2015i retired from a 22 plus year in -- in april of 2015, i retired from a 22-plus year in federal law enforcement. in 2002, i opened an investigation on a company for the illegal distribution of athletic performance enhancing drugs or peds. while the case and subsequent cases i worked focused on the illegal distribution, and not the athletes that use them, nonetheless, the laboratories
investigation ended up involving some of the biggest names in sports in the world's at the time. cash in the world of the time. -- in the world at the time. barry bonds, marion jones, dozens of olympic athletes, boxers, nfl athletes and several major league baseball players. the nature of the investigation steered many investigative leads my way and let me to subsequent investigations involving the did -- involving the distribution of ped's. i conducted an investigation on professional cycling, including the united states postal service cycling team. i estimate that throughout my career i spoke with between 150 and 200 professional athletes who chose to use peds. i always took the opportunity to ask them why they made that choice. more often than not, the answer came down to one word, trust. they didn't trust their teammates who were they were competing weren't using. they didn't trust the competitors weren't using. most importantly, they didn't trust their sports organization really cared about the issue and
that doping was allowed to fester because there was not sufficient programs in place to catch, as well as deter athletes from ultimately harming themselves and others. when i was first approached by the ufc to develop and implement their anti-doping program, i saw this as an opportunity to change and tied itide sentiment. i quickly realized the passion and commitment to athlete health and safety was paramount. they told me, we want the best anti-doping program in the world. we want to be the gold standard for not just combat sports but for all sports. i realize i could be part of a program within a sports organization that its athletes could trust and could be a positive influence for not just the ufc, buit for all professional sports. i can confidently state in the year and a half since our anti-doping program up and running, the ufc put together the most comprehensive, robust anti-doping program in professional sports in the world. a major pillar of our program is
the outsourcing of the administration to the united states anti-doping administration, the most reputable anti-doping administration in the world. earlier this year, the ufc renewed our commitment, $1 million commitment to the professional fighters brain health study being conducted through the cleveland clinic. this commitment makes ufc the largest, sports contributor to the study. we have 88 current and former ufc fighters enrolled in study. it's done over longer periods of time to develop ways to improve safety in combat sports, along with other professional athletes exposed to repetitive head trauma. another big development relating to fighter health and safety is the construction of the ufc's new athlete health and performance center. the goal of this facility will be to provide our athletes free of charge with the best training, rehabilitation, nutrition education and injury prevention practices available in the world. we will team with universities to conduct studies on our
athletes to learn best practices for training, rehabilitation, brain health, nutrition and weight management practices. we will use these studies to help all professional athletes. the center is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2017. as you can see, the ufc has taken concrete steps toward increasing safety standards and protocols, not just within our organization and within mixed martial arts, but across the board in the professional sports landscape. from our anti-doping program, which has been recognized by the media as the best anti-doping program in professional sports, continual education of athletes on topics relating to health and safety, safer weight management guidelines and practices, our participation in brain studies through the cleveland clinic, and our athlete health and performance center, we have made great strides to ensure all of our athletes compete on a level playing field, take proactive steps to protect their health and safety and enable them to lead fulfilling lives in and out
of competition. as an organization, we are not only looking to lead in this area, but take a leadership role and set an example for all of professional sports. thank you. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. miss robertson, you are recognized for five minutes for an opening statement. >> i am serving as treasurer of the association of boxing commissions. and just a little background on the organization. in the late 1980's, a group of concerned commission representatives got together in hopes that they could standardize some safety regulations for the professional boxing industry. shortly thereafter, the bill known now as the muhammad ali act came into being. and it helped unify those various states. so more and more states joined because in the muhammad ali act it specifies that if you do not
have an authorized regulatory body from within the state that you must use a different recognized organization. and every state wanted to participate. not too long after that, the law was amended. and now includes a lot of travel governments. we have 75 members that are housed within the u.s. borders. and about another 70 members from outside our borders. the association of boxing commissions is a 501c3 non-profit and maintains a website and offers continual training courses to enhance uniformity and skill among professional boxing and mma referees and judges. roughly eight years ago, the abc began working on uniform standards safety rules for mma.
just as had been done for boxing. they were updated this past summer in 2016. the abc receives no funds from the federal government, but exists on the dues collected from state and travel commissions and from registration at the annual educational and training symposium. the abc has no employees. we have no contract help, other than an occasional cpa. i'm here on my own time. and the abc president had hoped he could be here. there's a brief statement from him included in the comments. the abc's interest is always focused on fighter health and safety. how do we protect fightfighters, sometimes from themselves, and yet, let them participate in the sports of their choosing? the interest on the fighters,
the fair treatment of their fighters and their future is always uppermost. without these brave athlete souls, this meeting wouldn't even be held. and without the promoters putting on those shows, this meeting wouldn't be held. there's a delicate balance between the two. the association of boxing commissions expanded their name this past summer to association of boxing commissions and combative sports. as clearly, the abc is ready and willing to accept more responsibility of the ali act or some other bill directed at safety and to benefit the fighter. the abc, among its many members, possess unique and valuable perspective. i was a promoter for years. one of our board members was a fighter at one point. another state commissioner
trained fighters. this five member board of directors for the abc currently has 90 years experience. some regulatory, some participatory. unlike some laws with good intentions, the muhammad ali act has greatly contributed to competition standards in title finds, altered the way contracts are entered into between managers, promoters and athletes. the simple fact is that if a bill will reduce mma exploitation and enhance fighter safety, it is -- and if it is something the fighters are ready for, the abc, after seeing the final bill, will probably support the bill. the abc does not concern itself with promoters and their needs, regardless of whether they are multi-billion dollar promoter or a small one found in the state of alabama. it is the fighters with whom the abc is most concerned.
in closing, i would like to remind everyone that the small local promoter will also be required to adhere to changes in any law. the abc's goal is uniform enforcement of protections. my last comment would be, there is a balance between a business model and a sports model. i am not an expert enough to tell you what that is. but i think with all of the committee's experience and dedication, you will arrive at those decisions. and the abc is so grateful to be a part of this. thank you for allowing me to testify. >> the chair thanks the gentle lady. the chair recognizes dr. mckee. five minutes, please. >> mr. chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the invitation today to testify on mixed martial arts issues and perspectives. my name is dr. an mckee.
i am a professor of neurology and pathology at the boston school of medicine and chief of the neuropathology service for the va boston health care system and i'm director of the cte center at boston university. my testimony today reflects my professional -- my personal, professional opinion. i'm not speaking officially on behalf of the department of the veterans affairs or boston university school of medicine. cte is a major problem in contact sports. such as boxing and football and any other sport that involves a high number of head impacts such as mixed martial arts. even though there is not much research available on the long-term consequences of mma, we know it has a high concussion rate and importantly it has a -concussive impact rate. cte is a neurodegenerative
disease triggered by repetitive head trauma that causes buildup of an abnormal protein in the brain. the abnormal protein is toxic to nerve cells and causes a progressive brain deterioration over time. symptoms of cte include memory loss, confusion, impulse control problems, aggression, depression and dementia. cte was originally described in boxing and has been found in many other sports. we found evidence of cte in the only mma fighter we examined, a 27-year-old who took his own life. there's good reason to believe that a significant portion of other mma fighters are at risk for cte. this is because exposure to repetitive head impacts is the major risk factor. mma fighters experience substantial head trauma during their fight, as well as during their training and sparring sessions. there has been a primary focus on concussions in the development of cte, even the movie about cte was named "concussion." yet all of our research today
points to the fact that cte is associated with prolonged exposure to small impacts, the areconcussive htihits that asymptomatic. in sports like mma, the risk for cte is not directly related to concussions, rather to the cumulative exposure to sub-concussive htis. starting a contact sport at a young age often leads to a longer playing career and greater exposure to head trauma, but another factor that contributes to enhanced risk for young athletes is that the developing brain is more susceptible to damage from repetitive trauma. there's a lot of skepticism regarding the significance of cte. for years people have said that cte was not a real disease. they say there's confusion and debate among scientists that cte cannot be distinguished from alzheimer's or aging and epilepsy.
there is no scientific confusion about whether cte exists. exists, it is definitively diagnosed by neuropathologic examination of brain tissue. in 2015 and 2016, a panel of expert neuropathologies convened determined that cte was a unique disease that could be easily distinguished from other diseases. they went on to say there's a pathognomonic lesion for cte, a brain lesion found in cte not found in any other disorder and is specific for cte. the other misinformation about cte is that it's very rare. it's only been diagnosed in a few hundred people. millions of people have played contact sports. but cte is not rare. we would not be able to find 218 cases of cte in 291 athletes over the past eight years if it were rare. if you don't look for something, don't know how to look for something and don't find it,
that doesn't mean that something is rare. it means it's under recognized. recent brain bank studies have shown that cte is present in 5% of of the general autopsy population. if you were to ask me how to limit risk, in addition to the minimum standards previously suggested by representative dem denham, i would say don't allow them to participate with head strikes, educate fighters to limit expose exposure to not allow head strikes. limit the number of head strikes and reduce the number of full contact matches per season. cte is a big problem. what we know today is very likely the tip of the iceberg. while we recognize the importance of contact sports to an athlete's physical and psychological well-being, cte is a known and preventable consequence. there's great urgency for funding for cte research and the risks associated with sports
like mma and military service. we need to bring hope to the players and veterans in the beginning stages of cte and showing signs of memory loss, behavioral changes and depression. we need to develop effective interventions and treatments for cte so that all individuals can continue to participate in the sports that they love but also live long, healthy, productive lives. thank you. >> the chair thanks the doctor. you are recognized for five minutes for an opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to the members of the committee to have me here as a representative of mixed martial arts fighters. and i can give a mixed martial arts perspective. i've been in combative sports since the age of 10 for over 40 years. i wrestled at oklahoma state university. i was a three-time all-american there. with ad a degree
bachelor of arts and for language and literature. i started my mixed martial arts career in 1997 as a wrestler. rolling years of experience into mixed martial arts. my first title fight was that year in december of 1997. six-time world champion in the world of martial arts. as an athlete, i want to give our perspective on what's going on in the sport and the things that we're up against. i think we fill out the same paperwork and are governed by the same regulatory committees in each state, the athletic commissions. we fill out much of the same paperwork as boxers. there's one difference that's going on in mixed martial arts and a flaw in the structure. that is that the regulatory promoter and the sanctioning
body are one in the same in mixed martial arts, which isn't the case in boxing. independent sanctioning bodies are formed in boxing two great rankings and titles for boxing. in mixed martial arts, the promoter does both of those jobs. he promotes the five then creates those rankings and titles for those fighters. it gives him an unfair advantage and reduces the ability of fighter to negotiate fair value in the marketplace. an obvious example of that is for $2.25the usc sold million. if you do the simple math and the 16 years they owned the company and how much they put out to fighters during that time period, it's less than 10% of the amount. this is a significant problem. it creates a conflict of interest were they create the
titles and rankings for us as fighters. if we want to participate, we have to sign a contract signing away a lot of our rights and abilities that other athletes in the protections within the mohammed ali act give boxers. what we're trying to accomplish is to get the ali act amended simply by changing the definition of what a boxer is to a combative sports athlete. under those provisions, it will standardize the contracts across the board, create separate independent agency to determine rankings and titles and allows us a free and open market for the promoters to bid on the top fights and gives us a chance to estimate our fair value in the market and get our fair share of the revenues that are generated. right now the number one promotion in the sport is the ultimate fighting championship. they are garnering over 90% of the income that comes from the sport. there are other promotions that are using the same flawed model, creating their own titles and rankings. but obviously on a smaller scale.
it's our hope that -- we realize this is a process. but it's our hope that you will consider amending the ali act to encompass and incorporate mixed martial arts and other combative sports that fall under, just like boxing. thank you very much for giving us a voice here. >> the chair thanks the gentleman and all of the witnesses for your testimony. i was going to excuse denham, butive he has already excused himself. we will begin with the question and answer part of the hearing. i'm go going first. mr. mullen, five minutes for your question sgli nevers. >> i never get to go first. >> it's my last chance to let you go first. >> we're ending on a bang. thank you for the witnesses for all showing up. really do appreciate it. appreciate miss robertson you
coming in here on your own thelf and representing entity that we are looking forward to it may be help with the ranking system -- the entity that we are looking forward to maybe helping with the ranking system. dr. mckee, you are bringing a perspective that we all met about. we all know that the sport is violent and it is a sport that we love, though. we look forward to working with you. we understand it and that's part of what we're trying to do here. if you like we can negotiate better contracts. we don't have to fight as much. randy, i want to go back to your testimony that you just said. can you explain a little bit more about how the ranking system works? how it currently works and how it manipulates the fighters into basically saying, a take it or leave it attitude when it comes
to getting a chance to fight for the title. >> there's a take it or leave it attitude that comes from the promoters. a perfect example of that is you mentioned the new york -- the first show in madison square garden in new york. the number one fighter and probably most popular on that card was connor mcgregor. he was the 145 pound champion for the ultimate fighting championship. he was in that particular fight fighting for the 155 pound title belt. he would be first athlete to hold that two belts at the same time. he also is interested in pursuing a match with floyd mayweather in boxing. because that kind of went against the grain with the ultimate fighting championship, they stripped him of his belt at 145 pounds, even though he had not been defeated in that way class, and hadn't actually competed in the weight close under the law because he was attempting to do something historic in winning two
championship belts at the same time. he was stripped of the title and not only stripped of the title but dropped out of the top ten rankings in that weight class, even though he had not been defeat ordered or competed there. they used their rankings and titles to manipulate the fighters to toe the line. i'm living proof of a similar thing. the closed market that exists in our sport right now. i pursued in the height of my career as what most people consider the number two heavyweight in the world. i wanted to fight the number one heavyweight in the world. how do you be considered the best in your sport in? you find the best guy out there. i was able to see that i have been through the ultimate fighting champion and was prevented. tounctions were filed keep that from happening. at some point, i had to recognize that i was in my 40's in the clock was ticking and went back and continue the rest of my career, but never got the
chance to be considered the number one fighter in the world based on the outcome of that fight. there's a lot -- that conflict of interest gives the promoter a ton of power to manipulate the fighters, to manipulate the rankings. for them, it is just business. they are trying to get the most pay-per-views sold. they will do whatever they needed to do to manipulate that ranking structure and those titles to do that. doping,alk about the anti-doping program, which thank you so much. when i was fighting come it was very rare that anyone got tested. how long has the ufc implemented these rules with the dopeing? -- with the doping. >> our anti-doping policy went into effect last july. >> is your mic on? >> our anti-doping policy went into affect just 2015. >> you are being real strong on that. you are not letting anything pass?
you are making sure that people are testing? >> actually, we have the united states anti-doping agency, which is the officially recognized anti-doping agency of the united states for olympic and paralympic sports administer our program. that is one of the beauties of our program. one of the pillars of strength of our program is we do not police ourselves. we have an independent authority. >> tell me, how did brock lesner get a pass just this past july to not have to test before a fight? he was waived the four month w v aiver, when you are coming out of retirement you are supposed to test for four months and you take a fight. however, he was waived. >> that is not accurate that he got a pass in terms of testing. >> yeah, i believe it is. in theubmit the article record if you don't mind, chairman. >> i would be happy to clarify what the situation was. >> okay.
maybe we can do that. i'm running out of time. before i run out of time, mr. chairman, i have a copy of the standard mma fighting -- fighter and promotional contract from the ufc that i would like to enter into contract, just to make sure the body understands what type of contracts our fighters are currently against and how being a promoter, being the contract owner and being the person who controls the rankings is a direct conflict of interest for the fighters. >> without objection, so ordered. >> i yield back. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. the chair recognizes the gentlelady from illinois for five minutes. >> thank you. i want to follow up on head injuries. of course, they are inherent in mixed martial arts. we have heard all the dangers of concussions. but i wanted to underscore the threat posed by repetitive hits to the head known as
sub-concussive hits that do not result in concussions and often show no symptoms. my understanding is that sub-concussive hits can be quite dangerous, as has been discussed. dr. mckee, can you tell us what the evidence showed thus far in terms of the affect of the sub-concussive hits on the brain and have these even in the absence of a concussion diagnosis been linked to decreased cognitive functioning or changes in brain chemistry? >> absolutely. sub-concussions, or exposure to repetitive impacts, that's measured in years of exposure to a sport. that has been associated with long-term cognitive impairment, apathy and depression, not cte because those are living individuals. but we have seen it in our brain autopsy series, where the longer a football player plays, the
higher the risk for cte. we know in high school athletes, if you follow them for a single season in football, hockey and soccer, even in the absence of a concussion, you will see mri evidence of brain damage at the end of the season, not related to concussion, because none of the athletes had a concussion. ussives the sub-conc injuries sustained by those immature high school athletes in a single season showing up as brain damage. because thesaid players were living, that it's hard to find out if they have cte. so, you are saying -- what is the status right now of being able to diagnose cte in living people? is a tremendous interest in that. that is one of the stumbling blocks. , boston,emic centers
massachusetts general, ucla, many centers are looking at diagnosing ct using a way to image the protein in the brain just with we are looking for the next series of being able to confidently say this is cte in living individuals. tau e are also looking at to tau in the blood and biomarkers like nero filament. advances.en explosive >> i would suggest that members of congress who are really interested in these kinds of sports and especially because of ofth sports and the exposure
kids who seabees athletes as role models. that we really pushed for that kind of research so that we could make sure that we know more before someone dies. >> absolutely. i think we need long-term perspective studies of thousands of amateur athletes. follow them so we can know what the subtle symptoms are in the beginning of this disease so we know what we need to do to intervene to develop some therapies so it make it less likely that they develop cte. we are operating in the dark. we do not have any diagnosis after death. there's a huge need to understand the effects of sports trauma. we know sports are important, but we have to understand the risks. that will require funding for some of these long-term projects. >> we heard that the structure of the mma system does not get fighters significant bargaining
power in regards to their contract. i am concerned on the fact that will have. if a fighter is hurt, does yet pressure to fight again instead of waiting to heal because he needs to fight to get paid? injuries can occur in the lead up to the fight, but there is no compensation. insurance orealth anything until you actually fight. are they pressured into the fight? there is some pressure involved in that. you're not going to get paid for all the training and everything you did leading up to fight night. if you're injured in the course of that trading and you are not able to compete and you've done all that for nothing. you are not going to get paid. i do not know a single fight i did not walk into that i didn't
have some nagging injuries whether the a strange thumb from sparring or a sore ankle. something like a knockout is a rare occasion in fighting. that is what we have great teams. guys that we trust to retrain with. it is still a contact sport. pressure there. you want to get to fight night and you will do whatever you can do to show what you trained to do. we fall under the same guidelines as boxing. scans and blood tests and all the medical procedures making sure we're healthy going into that fight. we getting physicals and way in weigh-ins. if you get knockout, the first place you're going is the hospital. you will get a ct scan.
there are mandatory suspensions and those things are regular practice. if you get knocked down or knocked out you will get a 90 day suspension at the top and depending on the outcome of that c.t. scan, they will see if it needs to be longer. before you can even spar again, let alone compete again. there are procedures in place that are implemented and onulated that were competitive sports across the country. ?> but not in mma >> the same things happen in mma , but the differences, if i was floyd mayweather making the kind of money he makes as a boxer, i would only have to flight -- i would only have to fight one time a year. in mixed martial arts, you don't really have that luxury you want to make a decent living in the
sport that i love. to the gentlelady. mr. candy, five minutes for questions. >> thank you for having this hearing. i want to thank the witnesses for being here, particularly dr. mckee and work you do at boston university. and i know i recognize a couple more my colleagues here so far who wouldn't be here for the passion of my colleagues from oklahoma. i would like to thank him for his leadership on this. mma promoters have been criticized for restricting contract and not allowing fighters the ability to negotiate terms of contracts. , i knew you'ved touched on it a bit, but why don't fighters have more bargaining power when they enter
contracts? >> there's no transparency with the promoter and what is made from the match you are in. you have no way to judge what your true value is in that titular fight. they control the rankings and who gets the shot at the title. >> what value would an independent ranking system have for you and how that help fighters gain power? >> independent ranking structure would create an open market where promoters across the floor bid on making those top fights for those athletes happen regardless. it would eliminate the exclusivity of the contracts. right now every promotion is requiring athletes to sign a contract exclusive to that question. what is wimbledon forced all top tennis players to sign a exclusive contract to compete in wimbledon for that title.
that is what the usc does. the australian open, the u.s. open, they would go way because they no longer have access to those top athletes. >> focusing on the ranking system there, can you talk a little bit more about the typical payment structure for mma fighters. >> right now it is something that your manager and you negotiate with a promoter to get. the top 5% of the athletes in our sport make it pretty decent -- is itmpared compared to what floyd way is it compared to what the boxers and other athletes make, no. the lower tier fighters are making 5000 to show up and 5000 if they win. how many times do you have to fight in a year when a training process takes 10-12 weeks?
>> how many fights it is a gathered --fighter go through? me 10-12 weeks to prepare for one fight. if i thought 3-4 times, that is 48 weeks i am preparing in a 52-week year. there are some fighters who are more active than that and fight more, but that is a good indication. to me about endorsements. how does the endorsement structure work? >> the endorsement structure changes. we used to be able to go out and develop relationships. i had people who had sponsored me since i first started fighting and agree with me from the exposure they got from my success as a fighter. much of that went away with the ufc when- with the
they forced fighters who were under contract with them to where reebok. they want all athletes to wear that uniform and no longer of able to go out and garner their own sponsors in the various niche supporters. >> that was the supplemental income that you had on top of the five and five? >> many of the slower to fighters could go out and make as much from garnering sponsorship from the exposure they will get in that particular fight than they were getting in the fight for a desk in the first place. my understanding is that for what about injuries suffered during training? i would imagine, as you said, if
you are sparring for 10-12 weeks pre-fight i would imagine that is pretty fiscal. are bestsly aren't you obviously if you are injured during the course of the night, the insurance writer for the right covers whatever happens. bead several disputes would ufc. one of my complaints was what about the guys who get injured in the course of training. not only did they not get paid because they didn't make it to the fight. now they are responsible because of lack of insurance for most fighters. ufc is the only progression that does this. they have implemented an accident insurance policy. if you are sick, you have the flu, you're still on your own, but if you have an accident and training, you're covered. not a great policy. >> what accident?
like you break my wrist? >> sometimes you get cut. i don't normally has but all that often in my business here. whole, thatt on the is the only accident policy in place across the board. something a strong endorsement for obamacare, mr. chairman, thank you very much we would recognize mr. rush for five minutes for questions please. chairman and mr. want to thank all the witnesses who spoke today. questions toect mr. robinson.
the director of the association of boxing commission. tell me about the boxing commission. else, what is that? >> those are the regulatory bodies spread across the nation. almost always a state agency. housedonal state is under the arkansas department of health. some are commerce. some are under licensing and regulation. each state has created a commission so that they can have a department that enforces the mohammed ali professional boxing act. that includes trouble governments as well. not every trouble government posts mma boxing. part a push or them to be
of our training symposiums. does the government have teeth, power in terms of governance? are they really calling the shots? >> i can't speak for every state. but, yes, the ones i am familiar with. california has an excellent program and they control every item of it. arkansas, state of nothing that a licensee does is a felony, but they are very findable misdemeanors. yes they have a hammer. they can require enforcement of the standard rules. >>yes they have a hammer. i was a proponent and worked on the mohammed ali act.
in your testimony, you mentioned exploitation. think we heard the testimony attention would bring to exploitation. is that a pervasive problem in the industry? he talks the participants, the answer is most definitely. if you speak to various other components they would say not so much. -- willally a question regulations passed be promoted on a local level for a small promoter as much as it would be all the way up to chain.
exploitation in my state of arkansas, we have never had the benefit of one of the major mma shows. i've never held a contract in my hand. i would like to speak first person to that. from doters i do hear speak about exploitation. >> does anyone else on the panel have more of a direct experience with exploitation that you want to highlight? on, because my time is running out. this like a 10,000 pounds elephant. our congressional body moves slowly. what you suggest. how can we help you.
happily be of assistance to you? >> the association of boxing commissions combative sports welcomes the idea of having more or aiding in the enforcement of proper regulation. we have already passed minimum .tandard rules for mma we have training. we are there. ways todon't have any have any kind of enforcement and boxing. and boxing, when it comes down to making contracts, the abc actually recognizes the sanctioning body. the estimated application that has to be published. the fighters know what the standards are.
of we don't have those kinds industry.he mma we expanded our name so we could make sure everyone as we are --e for all contact sports combative sports. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. recognizedoes wish to a true sense of harmony in the season that i allow every other member to go first because i wasn't sure when we were going to call that. i recognize myself five minutes for questions. you are a graduate of arkansas tech, ms. robinson, is that correct? >> my wife graduated from arkansas tech. >> go wonder boys.
she provided us in her testimony for items. i like to get to this individually and have the response about whether these are things that could possibly happen with whatever regulation occurs with usc --ufc. don't allow young adults and children to participate with full contract and head directs. is that something that ufc could deal with? ofgenerally the association boxing commission has taken a stance against youth paying creation. we are worried about the cultism of weight loss which is proven to contribute to the head injuries. >> we might get into that more with the trickle-down effect.
the second item was to educate to use the greatest opportunity to limit exposure to head injury in sparring exercises. >> we're seeing more of those techniques. that is one of the things i talked about in my opening statement. athlete health and performance. the idea is we would bring in athletes free of charge to come in and learn training techniques and be educated in areas about avoiding sub concussive hits during training. and evil able to take those back educateheir gyms and and allow fighters to train in a much smarter and safer level. to the best of my knowledge, very few states in america have ray --ources to for
foray into the regulation of boxing and mma gym. >> i don't think she was asking for regulation, just educating .ighters that seems fairly straightforward. when the commissioner be in favor of that? >> yes, the abc would be in favor of that. also, on the issue of head strikes in a match. is that done now or is that hospital -- is that possible. >> we have some of the best referees in the mma. stopegularly see fights when there are multiple head hits. >> what is the magic number? >> not sure there is a magic
number. >> and the third is to reduce the number of contact hits per season. in general, ufc would be ok with that? about pitcher spoke mandatory medical suspensions and that is something that the mma has more than any other sport. if a fighter is concussed, they can have up to six months mandatory suspension. let me interrupt you for a second. dr. mckee, you said this was not necessarily related to concussion. it is repetitive, small volume injuries that occur. is that correct? >> yes, but i did not want to minimize the effect of concussion as a brain injury. i do think they should be removed from the sport if they have a concussion and not be
allowed to return if they are fully recovered. i want to eliminate the smaller, asymptomatic hit that occur over a period of time. give a qualitative number that should occur in a given year or a given match? >> no. >> i appreciate your answers on that. my understanding, and i realize , mys fairly rudimentary understanding is the specific equipment required of the athletes is very minimal. is that correct? >> the equipment required at the professional level is a cup and gloves. are toly the gloves allow grip and grappling. and i think those are the issue. >> there is no helmet involved? in training,adgear
not in competition. it is a professional sport like differencethe between amateur boxing and professional. amateurs wear headgear when they compete and professionals do not. >> dr. mckee, do you have an opinion about whether or not they'll make a difference? >> it will not eliminate the problem, but we can certainly reduces the injury with headgear. >> my time has run out. i want to be respectful. ms. robertson, i want to ask you on this whole notion of independent sanctioning. is that something that commissioners have looked at that the person who promotes the boxers should be the one he was think controlling the endorsements and the number of matches and whether or not they are on a card? >> that was set forth in the
mohammed ali act and that did not require input from me. is it something that we favor? personally, i'm not speaking for the association, i believe that the mohammed i the act did enhance exploitation but it did to greatly reduce the number of events. >> that's the thing that mr. pitcher was talking about. and the limit on your endorsements is a significant impediment to income. >> some of that goes hand-in-hand with the power and basic monopoly that the promoter has in the basic sport. they are allowed to have their own rankings and trade their own titles, which is not done in boxing, which is governed by the mohammed ali act.
that is what we are trying to get the act expanded to include mixed martial arts athletes. >> i knowledge this is not a legislative hearing. this is an informational exercise. his language is language that is favorable to it you seek? >> yes, sir. >> does anyone have a different opinion that the language in the bill will be detrimental to the sport for the athlete? >> i have a concern about the open ranking system that involves other promotions and it relates to health and safety. , who is underhter the most stringent anti-doping program in the world is forced to fight a fighter from another promotion he may not have any out of competition anti-doping program, that is a health and safety risk to your fighter. and a competitive
disadvantage, which you alluded to in one of your statement. people use performance enhancing drugs use it as a defensive posture because everyone else is doing it and if i don't, i will get hurt. panel.to thank our it is been an illuminating discussion this morning. before we conclude, i would like theonclude -- include .ocuments an article explaining the contract, a letter from the abc in pursuant to committee rules, i remind members they have 10 to submitays additional questions for the record. i asked the witnesses to submit their responses within 10 business days. without objection, subcommittee is adjourned. thank you all.
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brian gruber is down for q&a. >> this week on to a day, media entrepreneur and travel writer brian gruber. he discusses his book "war: the afterparty - a global walkabout through a half-century of u.s. military interventions." brian: brian gruber, your book. "war: the afterparty - a global walkabout through a half-century of u.s. military interventions." what is it about? mr. gruber: it is about whether we achieve the mission when we go to war.