December 10, 2023

Retired blended martial arts fighters who’ve fought in a minimum of 12 to 14 fights in California will now have entry to a state-run pension fund.

On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a invoice from Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) that may set up the Combined Martial Arts Retirement Profit Fund. The fund will likely be managed by the California State Athletic Fee and gained’t be paid for utilizing tax payer {dollars}. As a substitute, will probably be funded from $1 on each ticket sale, in addition to sports activities merchandising and souvenirs. The fee will begin creating the fund in January 2024.

“California is the most important state within the nation for skilled blended martial arts, with extra fights, fighters, followers than another state,” Haney mentioned in a information launch. “The game brings in billions of income worldwide, and the athletes who compete on this highly-skilled, state regulated sport, ought to be protected whereas they’re within the ring and be capable to reside with safety and dignity after they retire.”

The invoice garnered help from many former and present MMA fighters — who use a wide range of martial arts kinds from jiu-jitsu to karate — earlier this yr together with San Jose native Josh Thomson.

Nicknamed “The Punk,” Thomson beforehand instructed The Mercury Information that many fighters by no means discover ways to make investments their cash.

“They don’t get it,” he mentioned throughout a March interview. “They’re used to ‘I work out for 8 to 10 weeks, I struggle within the cage and I obtain a examine and that’s it.’ The inventory market is the lengthy recreation. They’re not used to the lengthy recreation.”

Ronda Rousey, a former Bantamweight champion and the primary lady to signal with UFC, known as the brand new legislation a “monumental victory for the fighters who pour their hearts and souls into this sport.”

“With this invoice, we’re revolutionizing the best way we help and take care of our fighters, making certain that their onerous work and sacrifice are rewarded not solely within the ring but in addition of their retirement years,” she mentioned in a information launch.

The idea of pension funds for former athletes isn’t a brand new one — the NFL, MLB and NBA all present pensions for gamers as a part of their contracts. The California State Athletic Fee has additionally managed a pension fund for retired boxers since 1982. They’ve given out 171 pensions to boxers since 2012 with a median one-time payout of $19,000, in response to Government Officer Andy Foster.

The fee has regulated MMA since 2006, and Foster, a former MMA fighter himself, beforehand mentioned that since each boxing and MMA are fight sports activities, it solely is sensible that the state manages pension funds for each.

In a information launch, Foster known as it a “groundbreaking second for the game.”

“It’s a brand new period for MMA,” he mentioned. “And we’re honored to be part of it.”