The key to uniting is unity.
So you’ll excuse my pessimism in the wake of the newly-formed Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA), spearheaded by former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, and announced earlier today during a special live media conference call.
Get the full audio replay here.
MMAAA joins Professional Fighters Association (PFA) — fronted by sports agent Jeff Borris — in the fight to protect the collective interests of athletes competing for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), so if you happen to sign with Bellator or World Series of Fighting (WSOF), you're on your own.
There’s also the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (MMAFA), but nobody really cares about them.
Point being, MMAAA is going to have to do something spectacular if it hopes to succeed in the “we hate UFC so let’s do something about it” space. It’s certainly off to a good start, recruiting some of the biggest names in the industry like former UFC champions Georges St-Pierre, Cain Velasquez and T.J. Dillashaw, along with active fighters Tim Kennedy and Donald Cerrone.
Besides, lawsuits are sooooo 2014.
“I know a lot of fighters are afraid, but it’s time to step up and do the right thing,” St-Pierre said. “We should never be afraid to stand for the virtues, for what’s right.”
An alignment with Rebney — who slammed UFC for hogging its $600 million annual profit — may give some folks pause, especially when you consider the criticism he faced as a fight promoter operating under the Viacom banner. That includes accusations from two marquee names in the form of Eddie Alvarez (tortious interference) and Chris Weidman (sneaky contract clause).
Where MMAAA gets its funding was not revealed.
The goal of MMAAA is to reach a monster settlement with UFC -- payable directly to fighters — while increasing the athlete profit margin from eight percent to 50 percent. That’s great news for all those future Starbucks employees. The group also hopes to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement comparable to other major sports like National Football League and Major League Baseball.
MMAAA has no intentions of contacting UFC regarding its upcoming endeavor.
It should be noted that MMAAA is not in bed with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the talent agency that operates in competition with WME | IMG, the new owners of UFC after last July’s massive $4 billion sale (more on that here). In addition Rebney shot down any talk of a fighter’s union (as opposed to an association) simply because of the multi-year process required to make that happen (just ask these guys), though he did mention the threat of a labor strike.
Hey, whatever makes you happy.