Former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney joined fighters Georges St-Pierre, Donald Cerrone, Cain Velasquez, TJ Dillashaw and Tim Kennedy on a conference call with media earlier today to announce the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association. Rebney said he is working with the group as an advisor, providing strategy and support. The five fighters on the call make up the board of the association.
The group laid out plans to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with UFC and to establish a 50/50 revenue split between UFC and the fighters. It was claimed on the call that UFC fighters receive just 8% of company revenue. Rebney clarified that this new group is an association and not a union because UFC fighters are independent contractors and unionization would slow their process down.
The group is focused on just the UFC but Rebney said they have not reached out to the UFC yet and don’t plan on doing so 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.”
Kennedy was the first to speak on the call and talked about how they’re concerned about fighters of yesterday and tomorrow, pointing to how fighters of the past have been forgotten and discarded. Cerrone said the group was something that needed to be done and while he still has a UFC contract, he’s scared to death. Cerrone confirmed he will still be fighting for UFC next weekend. Regarding possibly recruiting Conor McGregor into the association, GSP said they are looking to get as many big names as possible. GSP said, “He [Conor] knows what’s right. He’s not a coward. Everyone knows what we’re doing is right.”
A UFC official issued a response to the new association, seen below from MMAFighting.com:
“We respect all of our athletes and are always open and willing to hear their thoughts on how to improve the sport.”
The same official added that the company will not have further comments at this time because they feel not enough details were shared on the two-hour call.