“I’m proud to announce the official launch of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association. It’s gonna be big… we’re changing the sport forever starting today.”
That was Tim Kennedy this time 11 months ago, announcing the formation of the MMAAA alongside former champions Georges St Pierre, Cain Velasquez and TJ Dillashaw, perennial contender Donald Cerrone and former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. The organisation’s aims, outlined in their inaugural teleconference, were threefold: (1) to seek an “enormous settlement” on behalf of active and former UFC fighters; (2) to revise the revenue sharing model so that fighter’s received 50% of revenues; and (3) to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that would entitle fighters to ancillary conditions like pensions and health insurance.
How they were going to do that was less clear – the group expressly ruled out forming a certified labour organisation under the National Labour Relations Act, or bringing litigation against the UFC. But they had the star power and resources give the UFC a serious headache where other efforts, such as Jeff Borris’ Professional Fighters Association, appeared out of their depth. In Rebney’s words, their capacity to create change “came from the megaphone that these athletes speak from.”
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