Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association Fighters Union Announced

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 30, 2016

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 05:  UFC welterweight Georges St-Pierre in attenance during the UFC 196 event inside MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre helped announce the launch of the Mixed Martial Arts Athlete Association on Wednesday, per Bloody Elbow

Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting passed along comments from GSP, who stated the fighters' union will aim to give those who participate in the combat sport more protection.

"We are here to take a stand and fight for the fighters who are afraid to get fired, afraid to get left broken with no insurance or care," St-Pierre said.

Other marquee MMA names who took part in the announcement included Cain Velasquez, TJ Dillashaw, Donald Cerrone, Tim Kennedy and Bjorn Rebney.

Velasquez, a two-time UFC heavyweight champion, stated a disconnect has emerged because the money fighters make is often offset by the medical costs that follow, per Dave Doyle of Yahoo Sports.

"My first fight in the UFC was in 2008," he said. "Since then I've had seven surgeries."

Cerrone admitted similar concerns during the conference call. Jeremy Botter of the Houston Chronicle also provided the welterweight contender's explanation about deciding to come forward now.

"If you'd asked me this awhile back ago, I would've been scared to speak up," the 33-year-old veteran said. "But I feel good to speak up today."

One question raised was the connection to the Creative Artists Agency. Marc Raimondi of MMA Fighting noted before the announcement that CAA, which is a rival to new UFC owner WME-IMG, represents St-Pierre, Velasquez, Dillashaw and Kennedy.

Rebney, who's been out of the spotlight since exiting as Bellator CEO in 2014, provided clarification about CAA's role in the new association, as noted by Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com.

"CAA is not backing this venture, but they are supporting these athletes," he said.

Meanwhile, GSP urged fellow fighters to join the group despite lingering concerns about the impact that speaking out could have on their careers, according to Helwani.

"Even though I know a lot of fighters are afraid, it's time to step up and do the right thing," St-Pierre said. "It's time to join in and do the right thing."

Heidi Fang of the Las Vegas Review-Journal noted Dillashaw expressed hope the MMAAA could eventually lead to fighters getting a larger piece of the pie after the UFC sold for a reported $4 billion in August.

"The fact that we get just 8 percent of what the UFC brings in is crazy to me," he said.

For now, the group is focused on adding more members to its initial coalition. Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden pointed out Rebney stated they will be "traveling the world" to find more fighters interested in the cause.

                                               

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