On Wednesday an “industry-defining announcement was made by former Bellator promoter; Bjorn Rebney, and top UFC fighters Tim Kennedy, Georges St. Pierre, Donald Cerrone, TJ Dillashaw, and Cain Velasquez.
A lot was said, so check out some quotes below!
BJORN REBNEY – Former Bellator MMA Promoter:
- – “After the acquisition, WME-IMG should have sat down with all the athletes and had a meeting with them. They didn’t. And now guy are being denied meetings when they take the initiative and ask for one. They should have flown them all out, told them they’d pay them, told them they’d get benefits. But they didn’t.”
- – “The UFC’s structure is just outrageous and unfair. That is what we’re going to change.”
- – “These athletes are risking more for less than any professional athletes on the planet.Those are facts.”
- – “Just pure, human decency says the fighters should be fairly paid, and be taken care of long-term.
- – “MMA is an incredibly dangerous sport. The short-term and long-term of being a mixed martial artist are often terrifying.”
- – “The numbers confirms the outrageous, one-sided way the UFC has treated it’s athletes.”
- – “The most successful year I had as a promoter, I paid the athletes 53% of our revenues. Compare that to the UFC’s 8%.”
- – “Promoting is no longer my focus. This is my focus. We’ve been working on this for two years.”
- – “We’re going to get a settlement from the UFC for current and former fighters and get a CBA comparable to that of the MLB & NFL.”
- – “We plan on bringing the UFC’s revenue split way up. 50%.”
- – “We’re going to travel the globe. We’re going to meet with fighters everywhere.”
- – “The MMAAA’s focus will strictly be on the UFC for now because that’s where it NEEDS to be. They’re the undisputed leader in this space.”
- – “This settlement we are seeking, it covers everyone. Current fighters, past fighters.”
- – “The valuation of WME-IMG is over $6 billion. I don’t want to get overly aggressive, but come on. It’s time to step up.”
- – “My role is strategy. My role is support. I’m simply an advisor.”
TIM KENNEDY – #10 Ranked UFC Middleweight Contender, Fights December 10 in Toronto:
- – “I am proud to announce the official launch of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association.”
- – “The only thing that the fighters can be of is a lifetime of having to deal with injuries from fighting in the Octagon.”
- – “The UFC is a one-sided system.”
- – “I’d assume that if the UFC was going to reach the incredible levels of success that it has, that the fighters wouldn’t be left starving..”
- – “We are going to change the face of the industry today.”
- – “You’re going to get nothing but straight, honest truths from everyone at this table. We’re going to reach out, but also; come and find us. Come and find me. Reach out.” < to Ian McCall, who called in.
- – “I don’t need to convince fighters that this is the right thing. Come to us. You’re now empowered.”
- – “The fighters are who’s running this association. Period. Bjorn is not on the board. The five board members that exist initially are the five men up here today with Bjorn.”
- – “We’re not just in this to make a quick buck. We’re in this to change this sport forever.”
GEORGES ST. PIERRE – Former UFC Welterweight Champion, All-Time Great:
- “We are all here today to talk about a problem.”
- “Maybe after today, I will be seen as a ‘villain’ by the UFC. Just like I was when I spoke out about the PED problem.”
- “I’m one of the rare fighters who came out of this sport healthy and wealthy. I can’t say that about most of the guys.”
- “For most sports, it’s a 50/50 split. For us, right now, it’s more like 8/92.”
- “Fighters have been bullied and intimidated. To me, this is unacceptable.”
- “Of all the people who have approached me about this situation, this team is the most solid.”
- “The UFC without it’s fighters is just three letters of the alphabet.”
- “It is time to make out voices heard. It is time to make change happen.”
- “I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to be associated with this. It’s to make the quality of life better for fighters.”
- “Everytime we fight, we’re afraid. This is a different fight. We’re all afraid. But it’s time to join together. It’s time to do the right thing.”
- “I know a lot of the agents & fighters will be threatened by UFC. I make that my personal fight. We’re not going to be bought to shut up. We’re not going to let any fighter down.”
- “I know a lot of fighters want to remain anonymous. But I’m telling you guys, come stand with us. It’s time to stand together. We have a strong team. Now is the time.”
DONALD CERRONE – #5 Ranked UFC Welterweight Contender:
- “Cowboy here. I didn’t write a speech. Fuck. Now I wish I had.”
- “Health care needs to be addressed for the fighters. There are so many things I want answers to.”
- “I’m supposed to have insurance, but they deduct $10k from my checks to cover medical bills.”
- “If you asked me this a while ago, I would have been scared to speak up. But I feel good about speaking up today.”
- “I don’t know what the fuck I’m getting into here. But I’m here to stand with those 500+ fighters in the UFC.”
- “Absolutely, there’s still fear. But something has to be done, right? We’re big names.”
- “What’s going to happen? I have no fucking idea. But fuck it, I’m here. Let’s drive it until the wheels all off.”
TJ DILLASHAW – #1 Ranked Bantamweight Contender, Former Bantamweight Champion:
- “Today we’re here to stand up for what is right and what needs to be done.”
- “We’re looking to come up with better health insurance and retirement plans. I want to be able to take care of my family.”
- “The lowest low is not losing. It’s seeing these past UFC fighters who have nothing to show for it.”
- “It would be nice to have a plan for health insurance. I have to pay for health insurance on my own right now. Training is the toughest part of this sport. When I get injured, I have to pay for that.”
- “I’m not sitting behind a desk. I’m here putting my life on the line. It would be nice to reap some reward from that.”
- “To hear that we get paid about 8% of what the UFC brings in, that’s just crazy to me.”
- “I am nervous to be a part of this. I had those pre-fight butterflies just coming here today.”
CAIN VELASQUEZ – #2 Ranked UFC Heavyweight Contender, Former Heavyweight Champion:
- “Since 2008, I’ve had seven surgeries. After my next fight, I’ve already scheduled another surgery.”
- “There is no post-fight retirement plan. That’s why we’re coming together now. To make our lives better right now, and to make our lives better in the future.”
So. There it is. A lot was said, and this could get very interesting. They have some big names on board with this right out of the gate. Former champions, and top ten fighters. You have Tim Kennedy and Georges St. Pierre who exude passion when discussing this, and you have Donald Cerrone, TJ Dillashaw, and Cain Velasquez, all of whom are very clearly unsure of what will happen with this, or what will happen to them for being a part of this, but all have come together for the sport of MMA and the fighters in it, in particular; the UFC. Making sense of the involvement of Bjorn Rebney in this? Well… that’s a whole other story.
The MMAAA will target the UFC and it’s owners WME-IMG currently, as they are the leader in the field. Just today during the announcement alone, multiple fighters were expressing interest in this publically on social media. Expect more announcements from the MMAAA team over the coming days, weeks, and months.
Something worth noting, Tim Kennedy, Donald Cerrone, TJ Dillashaw, and Cain Velasquez all have big UFC fights coming up over the course of the next month.
Check the conference call out for yourself.