Nearly a decade since their initial encounter in the octagon, Cat Zingano and Ronda Rousey have maintained a close bond, often exchanging texts about family and career matters. So, when Rousey proposed collaboration on a legislative bill to establish a pension fund for MMA fighters in California, Zingano was ready to listen.
“She’s significantly involved in the bill now, and she wanted me to be just as involved,” Zingano remarked during an appearance on The MMA Hour. “We had a discussion with her mother and decided on how we could represent the female perspective in this issue. I felt both honored and eager.”
Zingano took an active role in supporting the bill, formally known as AB 1136, by offering her testimony on Monday. The bill proposes a retirement benefit for fighters who schedule between 12 and 14 fights in the state and becomes effective when they reach 50 years of age.
Funded by a $1 per ticket tax on California-promoted MMA events and merchandise sales, the bill successfully cleared the California Senate’s Committee on Business and Professions without any opposition. The bill could soon be subjected to a general vote in the assembly, and if successful, it would move to the governor’s desk to be enacted into law. However, it’s worth noting that this bill wouldn’t retroactively benefit older fighters – it would only apply to those fighting after it becomes law.
Zingano took to her Instagram to share her testimony. She flew to California to collaborate with Rousey and her mother, AnnMaria De Mars, who is a commissioner for the California State Athletic Commission.
“We share some profound personal experiences, which has helped foster mutual respect,” Zingano spoke of her relationship with Rousey. “Our bond has always been quite unique. Despite Rousey’s usual fight strategy of intimidation, she never showed me any disrespect. We’ve always supported each other.”
Zingano was in full agreement with the bill’s objective, which was to establish a basic safety net for professional fighters. Boxers have had similar benefits since 1982 when the California legislature voted for a pension fund financed by a tax on tickets. According to the LA Times, an average payout of $17,000 per boxer is made, with significantly higher figures for California-based stars.
Zingano, who has seen the highs and lows of professional MMA, is hesitant to recommend the sport to youngsters. She believes the retirement benefit could offer some financial and physical security to the fighters amidst the challenges they face in and outside the cage.
She has observed mixed reactions from promoters about the potential changes to the way business is conducted, as the bill will tax live event gates, affecting a promotion’s profit margin. Regardless, Zingano hopes that business concerns won’t overshadow the benefits to the fighters.
“All of us fighters are eagerly waiting to see what happens. Trying to bring about progress in fighting is often intimidating because the backlash is uncertain and you never know if it will prove beneficial or harmful,” she said. “Speaking to the senate on Monday felt like a fight, filled with nerves. It was like going into a fight – you get one chance to get everything right, and if you don’t, there are clear consequences. But I believe this could be the start of great things for upcoming fighters.”
She concluded: “Our goal is to transform MMA into a fully supported sport where athletes are recognized and treated as professionals. If we can accomplish this, it could be worthwhile for people to pursue this sport.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about MMA Pension Legislation
What is the MMA Pension Legislation that Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano are involved in?
Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano are working on a legislative bill, AB 1136, to establish a pension fund for MMA fighters in California. The bill proposes a retirement benefit for fighters who schedule between 12 and 14 fights in the state, which becomes effective when they reach 50 years of age. The bill is funded by a $1 per ticket tax on California-promoted MMA events and merchandise sales.
How did Rousey and Zingano get involved in the pension bill?
Rousey initially reached out to Zingano about collaborating on the bill. Both women have a personal connection and share mutual respect for each other, which fostered their collaboration. After a discussion with Rousey’s mother, AnnMaria De Mars, they decided how they could represent the female perspective in this issue.
Why is Zingano supportive of the MMA pension bill?
Zingano supports the bill as she agrees with its objective to establish a basic safety net for professional fighters. She believes the retirement benefit could provide financial and physical security to the fighters amidst the challenges they face in and outside the cage.
How would the MMA pension legislation affect the sport?
The legislation is aimed at creating a safety net for fighters who, until now, had no retirement benefits. If passed, it would offer some security for fighters as they age. However, it may also affect a promotion’s bottom line as it will be funded by a tax on live event gates. Despite potential resistance from promoters, supporters like Zingano hope the benefits to fighters will be prioritized.
What is the next step for the MMA pension legislation in California?
The bill has passed the California Senate’s Committee on Business and Professions and could soon be subjected to a general vote in the assembly. If successful, it would move to the governor’s desk to be enacted into law.