UFC stars announce launch of MMA Athletes Association

A group of five UFC stars, including three former champions, has launched an association for MMA fighters.

The launch of the initiative, called the MMA Athlete’s Association (MMAAA), was announced today in a conference call by Georges St. Pierre, Tim Kennedy, Cain Velasquez, TJ Dillashaw, and Donald Cerrone. The board of the association will consist of the five fighters supported by Bellator founder and former promoter Bjorn Rebney, who will take on an advisory position.

The goal of the association is to improve the conditions of employment of fighters by the UFC. The board will first attempt to initiate a collective bargaining agreement with the promotion in order to better regulate the terms of fighters’ contracts, mainly from a perspective of pay and health insurance. In addition, the association will seek a settlement from the UFC for past and current fighters.

“Every time we fight, we're afraid,” St-Pierre said during the call. “This is a different fight. I know a lot of us are afraid. It's time to step up, do the right thing.

“I know a lot of fighters want to remain anonymous. I'm telling you guys, come see us. It's time to stand together.”

Another one of the aims of the MMAAA is to raise the percentage of the UFC’s revenues that go towards fighter pay from just 8 percent to 50.            

“I would have assumed that if the UFC had reached the level of success they have, the fighters would not be left behind,” Kennedy said.

Rebney, who has not spoken publicly since being fired from his promotional role at Bellator in 2014, said that this was a project he had been working on for the past two years. He specified that the association was not a union and that a fighter’s union would significantly slow down the process of improving the well-being of fighters.

“MMA was very good to me and it's an opportunity, I think, to dramatically improve the sport,” he said. “We're not going to have MMA as a sport unless these things change.”

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Jamal Khayat is a writer for RoughCopy MMA. He began his training in combat sports in 2009 and has competed as an amateur in both MMA and boxing. He is currently pursuing a B.S. degree in Physics at the University of Central Florida.

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