In an effort to help protect the interest of mixed martial arts promoters, fighters, and fans alike, Gregory Sirb, Executive Director, Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, has authorized the use of an optional amateur fighter contract to bind agreements made between amateur competitors and promoters.
While amateur fighters still will not receive compensation for competing, they will be held to standards similar to those of professionals. The new agreement put forth is geared towards MMA and as of press time it is uncertain if a similar plan will be implemented for amateur boxing, kickboxing or Muay Thai competitors in the state.
After multiple incidents where amateur competitors have left promoters in what could potentially spell financial loss and or event cancellation, promoters will now be afforded some piece of mind knowing that some sort of punishment could take place. Promoters, matchmakers, fans, fighters, and media have all lobbied for a procedure to be put into place after entire events have been cancelled due to competitors falling off the card without notice, loss in ticket sales, returned ticket fees, and even fines handed down to the promoters by the commission as a result of the actions of several amateur competitors.
“I absolutely love the concept,” said Mike Bickings, promoter of Art of War Cage Fighting, a Pennsylvania based promotion. “Accountability is a major component to fighting. Currently an amateur fighter simply gives his word on a fight. However, if he backs out, what about the promotion, the fans and their opponent? Someone’s cutting weight, someone’s buying tickets, someone’s putting together a budget for the show, etc. Hopefully an amateur contract is a reminder that you are part of a partnership. We help you and you help us. Especially because we don’t just put guys in a cage and ring a bell. We actually promote our guys. So we want the hard work to pay off.”
While it looks and sounds as if the commission is looking to help advance the sport and progress integrity, it seems the idea is not new. According to Pinnacle FC matchmaker Nichole Castillo, the organization which operates under the auspices of the PA State Athletic Commission has been using amateur contracts independently for years.
“I’ve been working in PA since 2015 and have always done contracts for amateurs,” Castillo said. “You can’t hold anyone accountable without them and are not a ‘professional matchmaker’or show if you don’t expect your amateurs to do the steps to prepare them for pro. You act professional,they’ll act professional,” she said.
“I am a middle man, as a matchmaker so it keeps the promotions and fighters honest. Everyone gets what is promised to them. It safeguards the fighters as well as promoters so they get their gas money or hotel paid and not screwed. Win-win, in my honest opinion.”
Fight promoters are not required to use the contracts, however, they are unable to be backed by the commission if they fail to present a signed agreement between both promoter and competitor should an incident occur.
Maverick MMA promoter Willy Sisca is in favor of the option.
“This is a move in the right direction for everyone,” Sisca said. “There have been many cases to support having a document like this in place. I’m happy commissioner Sirb made this move and it should help everyone moving forward.”
The agreement between promoter and competitor will list the names of the agreeing parties, event date, location, and bout weight and states:
“If the amateur MMA fighter shall fail to appear or make weight or is not in physical condition to fight as determined by a duly licensed physician, the State Athletic Commission may fine, suspend or take any reasonable action against such fighter.
IT IS UNDERSTOOD AND AGREED that if the fighter enters into another contest prior to the one contracted for and is defeated or suspended for any reason, the PROMOTER shall have the option to rescind and cancel this contract, provided such cancellation is approved by the Commission. The Commission reserves the right to find, suspend or take any other reasonable action against such fighter.”
The document is then signed by both the promoter and competitor and returned to the commission.
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