Back in the day, Monte Cox used to run a regional midwest promotion called Extreme Challenge. He also managed fighters – invariably the best of the Extreme Challenge crop – and some of them went on to see some success in the UFC (um, Matt Hughes anyone?). Back then, that was cool. After all, MMA was young, under-regulated, and still trying to find its footing in the mainstream world.
But the passage of time has brought evolution, and some of that evolution has involved the notions of what’s right and what’s wrong – especially in regards to conflicts of interest.
Scott Harris of Bleacher Report has dug deep on the topic, and he knocks it out of the park with an article that touches upon everything from the World Series of Fighting to the Ali Act. Below is a sample, but definitely follow the link and read the rest.
There’s a reason sports agents aren’t allowed to hold executive positions in the teams and leagues that employ their clients. It’s hard to imagine a more fertile piece of ground for cultivating conflicts of interest. Agents could sign their own athletes to big contracts while spurning those outside their stables. The possibilities are almost endless.
Such arrangements would never fly in mainstream stick-and-ball sports. Not so in mixed martial arts.
It’s not uncommon for an MMA fighter’s agent or manager to serve as an executive for the organization in which that fighter competes. Beginning with the inception of the young sport in the mid-1990s—and, in boxing, well before that—such dual roles have ingrained themselves in the sport’s culture.
That, however, is changing. New insights from lawmakers and promoters, provided here, seem to indicate that this era may be coming to an end in its current form. Gradually, the country’s top MMA promotions are extricating themselves from these compromising positions and the conflicts they can create. But it’s not altogether altruistic. As the sport grows, so does the scrutiny, and lawmakers, regulators and fighters are taking more notice of these dual-role situations.