In a report that came out on F4WOnline, they recapped a conference call that took place to announce the formation of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association. Former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney joined Georges St. Pierre, Donald Cerrone, TJ Dillashaw, Tim Kennedy, and Cain Velasquez took part in the call. Rebney noted he is working with the group as an advisor, and the five fighters make up the association’s board.
In the call the group laid out their plan to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with UFC, with the goal of establishing a 50/50 revenue split between the promotion and fighters. During the call it was claimed that fighters only receive 8 percent of company revenue. Rebney was clear to note that this group is an association and not a labor union due to the fact that UFC fighters are independent contractors. If they were to unionize, this would slow the association’s efforts.
Rebney noted that at this time they are only focused on UFC. He said they have not reached out to the company and don’t plan to any time soon. He said:
“There’s no reason (for us) to (reach out). Our structure and what we’re doing, and our plan of attack, does not include us reaching out to the UFC. It includes the implementation of strategies that are designed, and have been designed over the last two years, to achieve a very specific set of goals. And those strategies, I think, will be very effective in achieving those goals. And at some point, I’m quite comfortable our phone will ring.”
Tim Kennedy spoke first to make the formal announcement, saying that they are concerned both for past fighters and tomorrow’s fighters. He noted how those who no longer fight have been forgotten or discarded. Cerrone confirmed he will fight at next weekend’s event yet admitted he was scared to death. He said that this association was something that needed to be done.
Georges St. Pierre addressed the possibility of recruiting Conor McGregor into the association, saying that they hope to land as many big names in the group as possible. “He (Conor) knows what’s right. He’s not a coward. Everyone knows what we’re doing is right,” St. Pierre said.
A UFC official released a one-sentence statement regarding the association (taken from MMAFighting.com) as shown below:
“We respect all of our athletes and are always open and willing to hear their thoughts on how to improve the sport.”
That same official declined further comment at this time. The company said they do not feel that enough details were shared during the call, which lasted nearly two hours, to make any additional comments.
Bill Says: This is interesting news. There were previous overtures of a union or association forming for UFC fighters, but it never really seemed to garner much traction or further news. The fighters involved here are all fairly big names in the MMA circle, which should carry some weight. It will be very interesting to see if UFC is willing to discuss this concept, or if it too falls by the wayside. More as this unfolds.