Reed Smith Client Alerts

Key takeaways

  • On September 14, 2023, the California State Assembly passed the landmark Assembly Bill 1136 (the Act) to establish a Mixed Martial Arts Retirement Benefit Fund (the MMA Fund) for participating martial artists to receive retirement benefits and death benefits for their beneficiaries.
  • California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Act into law on October 8, 2023, and the MMA Fund will apply to participating martial artists beginning January 1, 2024.
  • The MMA Fund has similar attributes to other California public pension funds. This post summarizes the purpose, eligibility requirements, benefits afforded, and administrative attributes specified under law for the MMA Fund.
Concept karate, martial arts. Construction of students in the hall before training. Kimono, different belts, different levels of training.

The Act requires the State Athletic Commission (the Commission) within the California Department of Consumer Affairs to establish a new state-run retirement benefit plan administered for the exclusive benefit of qualifying mixed martial artists and their beneficiaries. The Commission currently administers the Boxers’ Pension Fund for all professional and amateur boxing and kickboxing. This Act expands the role of the Commission to provide a similar retirement system for mixed martial artists called the Mixed Martial Arts Retirement Benefit Fund (the MMA Fund).

Effective January 1, 2024, the Act would add Sections 1888 et seq. to the California Business and Professions Code, which will govern the creation, funding, and administration of the MMA Fund.


The Act and the creation of the MMA Fund are part of California’s health and safety regulatory scheme, designed to protect professional athletes. Bus. Prof. Code § 18888(d). Many athletes in the mixed martial arts trade suffer health-related hazards associated with their trade, and the purpose of the MMA Fund is to provide financial security to these individuals in retirement. Id., subd. (b)-(c).