California is planning an MMA pension fund

With the state of California on track to create a brand new MMA fighter pension, a major source of contention is not only financing the pension but trying to calculate a formula on which fighters deserve a pension and how much it should be worth.

If it’s anything like the four-decade old California boxing pension, this will be a very large nightmare.

The MMA scene today in California, compared to the first ten years of legalization, is far different now in terms of activity and revenue generated. Things were a lot hotter for activity back then, especially in the Sacramento market. The UFC is largely absent from the California scene under Endeavor ownership versus their frequent activity under Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta.

Which means it’s going to be very interesting to see how this new MMA pension fund works. Will older fighters who are currently retired quality? Or will this pension only apply for future generations?

State’s boxing fund maligned for poor planning and implementation

As The Times recently noted, the calculation for boxers to earn a pension distribution is certainly worthy of debate:

California offers pensions to any professional boxer who fought at least 75 rounds in the state with no more than a three-year break. Boxers are not required to live in California, but only their fights in the state count toward their pension.

If a boxer has met the minimum requirements, they can apply for their pension when they turn 50. If a boxer dies prior to turning 50, their benefits are eligible to be paid early to a beneficiary.

Retired boxers who are 36 or older can apply for all or a portion of their benefits early if they plan to use the money for vocational education. Boxers can also request to withdraw their pension early due to demonstrated medical reasons.

Los Angeles Times

There will be local voices involved in the process of determining who is eligible for a state MMA pension fund. The primary voices will be Big John McCarthy, Athletic Commission Executive Officer Andy Foster, and Commission board member AnnMaria DeMars.

If the new calculation is anything like the boxing pension fund calculation, expect some concerns to be raised about a take-it-or-leave-it disparity in bargaining.

In our upcoming long-form Bloody Elbow article about this new California MMA pension fund, we take a microscopic look at what exactly has happened to the boxing pension fund and why millions of dollars that should be in the trust account aren’t there. Plus, a very surprising political discovery we made in the investigatory process that nobody else in the state media corp knew about.

Bloody Elbow’s special investigation into California’s plans for an MMA pension fund, and how it might be adapted to MMA, can be read on the Bloody Elbow Substack page starting Monday, June 12.

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About the author
Zach Arnold
Zach Arnold

Zach Arnold first started writing about combat sports in 1996. He is a veteran professional wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts writer who frequently covered both the California and Nevada athletic commissions starting in 2010. His archived writings can be found at Fight Opinion.

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