Georges St. Pierre, Four Other UFC Stars Join Forces to Launch MMA Athletes Association

By Tristen Critchfield Nov 30, 2016
Former welterweight king Georges St. Pierre is joining forces with four other UFC stars to launch the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA) in hopes of securing better treatment for both past and present UFC fighters.

The formation of the MMAAA was announced during a conference call on Wednesday. St. Pierre, Donald Cerrone, Tim Kennedy, Cain Velasquez and T.J. Dillashaw will serve as the five-man board for the association. Meanwhile, ex-Bellator MMA CEO Bjorn Rebney will fill the role of advisor.



“Every time we go fight, we’re afraid. This is a different kind of fight. Even though I know a lot of fighters are afraid, because of my situation I’m in a much better place than I was a few years ago. I know fighters are afraid, but it’s time to step up and do the right thing,” St. Pierre said. “It’s like a fight in the Octagon, but it’s a fight against what is right and what is wrong. We should never be afraid to stand for what is right.”

According to Rebney, the MMAAA is focused on three main goals: to collect a “substantial” settlement to compensate past and present UFC fighters; to increase fighter revenue sharing from eight percent to 50 percent; and to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement similar to what athletes in other major sports receive. The association will strictly focus on athletes in the UFC will not include fighters in other promotions such as Bellator or World Series of Fighting.

“This is my focus,” Rebney said when asked if he had any plans to return to the fight promotion business. “We’ve been working on this for over two years...MMA has been pretty good to me. It’s not often you get an opportunity to step up and do something that’s right. I’m gonna be in this as long as these guys that sit on this sport want me to be in this.”

Rebney made it clear that the MMAAA is an association, not a union, because the latter wouldn’t hold up in court against the UFC because of the fighters’ status as independent contractors. Beyond that, the ex-Bellator head played it close to the vest regarding the future plans of the MMAAA, although he did say that there are no plans to contact the UFC directly.

“There’s no substantial benefit to the fighters sitting here with me or the hundreds of fighters in the UFC to lay out our strategy,” Rebney said. “We have a well-developed plan to win.”

The five-man board features three former champions (St. Pierre, Velasquez, Dillashaw) and two other well-known figures in Cerrone and Kennedy. More fighters are expected to join the association in the coming weeks. Cerrone and Kennedy are scheduled to fight at UFC 206 on Dec. 10, while Velasquez and Dillashaw are booked for UFC 207 on Dec. 30.

“Years ago if you asked me to speak I wouldn’t have out of fear that the UFC would’ve benched me or fired me,” Cerrone said.

“There’s still fear. But it needs to be done. Standing with the five guys here, we’re big names, man. We just need to get the rest of the guys to step up with us.”

The UFC was sold for a reported $4 billion to William Morris Endeavor and International Management Group earlier this year, a massive increase from the $2 million Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta spent on the promotion in 2000. Since then, the sport has grown exponentially, with rising pay-per-view figures, television contracts and significant more mainstream exposure.

“If you would’ve told me that this level of success would have happened, I would have thought that it would have been shaped a little bit differently. We’re the ones that pack the stadiums. We’re the ones that drive pay per view buy rates. We’re responsible for the hundreds of millions of dollars of sponsorships worldwide,” Kennedy said.

“No man left behind resonates with me permanently. I would’ve assumed that if the UFC reached the level of success that it has, that the fighters wouldn’t have been left behind. You wouldn’t have guys that can barely walk and there’s nothing that can be done for them,” he continued. “That’s why we’re here today. We’re here to never leave somebody behind. We’re here to take every step necessary to make sure no athlete, no fighter in the UFC gets left behind. That one-sided system that the UFC has in place and has had for many years, and is now under new ownership and plans to keep in place, it will be changed and changed immediately.”

Added St. Pierre: “UFC without fighters is only three letters of the alphabet. It’s time to make our voice heard, to make change happen.”

That change must be promoted by taking a risk, namely going against the most powerful entity in mixed martial arts. St. Pierre and the rest of the board recognizes that their cohorts might be hesitant to take such a step.

“We’re not going to let any fighters down. We’re here to stay,” St. Pierre said. “This same thing that is happening now has happened in every other sport. It’s going to happen whether they like it or not. I know a lot of fighters want to remain anonymous. I’m telling you, come and see us and we’ll fight this thing together.”

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