During a media conference call yesterday, former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre alongside four other UFC fighters as well as former Bellator CEO and founder Bjorn Rebney announced the launch of the MMA Athletes Association with the hopes of getting better treatment for fighters past, present and future under the UFC.
Georges St-Pierre was joined by fellow fighters Tim Kennedy, Cain Velasquez, Donald Cerrone, TJ Dillashaw who have formed the MMA Athletes Association. Bjorn Rebney is also on board in an advisory capacity only. In a media conference call yesterday Kennedy was crystal clear that this association would be run purely by the fighters for fighters.
“We’re here to make sure that no fighter in the UFC gets left behind,” Kennedy said. “The fighters are running this association. Period. End of story. I would have assumed that if the UFC had reached the level of success they have, the fighters would not be left behind.”
St-Pierre believes the fear factor some, if not the majority of the fighters under the UFC might be feeling needs to be put aside in order to enact change through this association.
“Every time we fight, we’re afraid,” St-Pierre said. “This is a different fight. I know a lot of us are afraid. It’s time to step up, do the right thing. I want the situation to be rectified and I want to be happy on both sides.”
Cerrone wasn’t sure how far the MMAAA can take things but in typical ‘Cowboy’ fashion he put some salt and pepper on the willingness of this group and their efforts to try and improve things for fighters.
“What’s going to happen, I have no f*cking idea,” Cerrone said. “But let’s run it until the goddamn wheels come off.”
The MMAAA goals include to obtain a settlement from the UFC for past and present fighters, raise the revenue share from 8% to 50% and also negotiate collective bargaining for all future deals such as the TV distribution renewal which is set for 2018.
One of the most eye raising moments of the announcement is the return of Bjorn Rebney to the sport, albeit in the fashion of an advisor to the MMAAA only.
“MMA was very good to me and it’s an opportunity, I think, to dramatically improve the sport,” Rebney said. “We’re not going to have MMA as a sport unless these things change.”
The MMAAA is now the third most prominent attempt to organise fighters following the launches of the Professional Fighters Association (PFA) and the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (MMAFA). The MMAAA promised more major announcements in the days and weeks ahead.