Welcome to the Fightful Live Viewing Party for the Industry Redefining MMA Announcement Conference Call.
The personalities participating in the conference call are Bellator MMA founder Bjorn Rebney, former UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, former UFC Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw, UFC veteran Donald Cerrone and UFC veteran Tim Kennedy.
* Kennedy kicks things off by thanking everybody for joining the call and he talks about his personal life, then talks about the history of MMA and the UFC in general. Kennedy talks about the level of success that MMA has seen and how much the fighters sacrifice for the sport in both training and/or fighting. Kennedy says that it is the fighters that have made the sport what it is and they are responsible for the money they make the sport, but it is a sad thing that there is no safety net for the fighters after all the money they helped promotions make. Kennedy says that it is a sad thing that the UFC has left the fighters behind while making so much money, he says they are here today to make sure that no more fighters get behind and that the new ownership is doing what the old ownership has done when it comes to preserving money for themselves, not the fighters, who are left behind and disregarded. Kennedy says that they are not just doing it for the current fighters, but the past and future fighters as well, with past fighters telling the public their stories in the future. Kennedy says that they have a team behind them, both made of fighters and legal representatives, plus a great public relations team and support staff as well. Kennedy announces the MMA Athletes Assocation (MMAAA), which he says will be changing the sport forever.
* GSP is up next and says that we are all here today to talk about a problem and they are here to make the situation better for everyone involved in the sport, GSP then talks about his personal history in the sport and all the different places that he trained at, plus the folks he has trained with. GSP says what they are doing now will make them villains in the UFC's eyes, but now they are trying to rectify the problems so that everybody on both sides of the MMA bubble can benefit, GSP says that fighters only have about 8% of the fair share of what they should have, says that it is 50/50 in a lot of the other professional sports out there. GSP says that they are here today to take a stand for the fighters who have gone through lots of problems like physical trauma, mental trauma, personal problems and other things that the UFC has ignored over the years. GSP says that he knows that he isn't the only one who has seen others or gone through these problems, which is why the MMAAA is operating now. GSP says that without the fighters, the UFC is only a three letter word.
* Cerrone says that he had a fear of speaking up a while back because he feared retaliation from the UFC, but that has changed now. Cerrone brings up that after fighter, he would lose $10,000 from his paycheck due to medical testing and he never knows why. Cerrone says that he wants to learn more about what can be done for the fighters, which is why he has joined the MMAAA.
* Dillashaw up is next and he talks about how the fighters who have competed in the past need to be helped by the UFC, Dillashaw talks about having to pay for health insurance and how the UFC doesn't offer any help when fighters get injured during training camps. Dillashaw says that it is insane that fighters only get 8% of the revenue that the UFC makes, he talks about getting more medical help for fighters as well.
* Velasquez is next and he talks about how he has had seven surgeries from injuries suffered while training/fighting for the UFC and he has another one scheduled for early January 2017, Velasquez says that the UFC needs to help out medically with past, present and future fighters.
* Rebney is up next and he says that the numbers he will provide, as well as the conduct the company has shown towards it fighters, will show just how unfairly the UFC has treated past and present fighters. Rebney calls MMA a dangerous sport and a lot of the stuff the fighters can go through is harrowing. Rebney says he will always defend the fighters rights to compete in the sport, even with the dangerous consequences involved, Rebney talks about how much money the UFC makes and how little the fighters are getting in return. Rebney says the athletes need to be paid fairly as they are making money for a promotion while having no protection, pension or safety net of any kind. Rebney says that the MMAAA is here to change everything for the athletes of the past, present and future.
- Q&A Next -
* Rebney is asked about the CAA, Rebney says that while the CAA is not backing the MMAAA, but they are supporting the cause and the fighters. Rebney says that when the WME-IMG bought the UFC, they should have brought all the fighters in the UFC for a big meeting, then make amends with the fighters for past treatment and they should have offered solutions to help the fighters in the future. Rebney talks about how the UFC's new owners have gotten rid of a lot of the UFC staff, Rebney says that Ari Emmanuel told investors that they will achieve a 50% margin revenue by cutting costs in every area possible, Rebney claims claims the WME-IMG are paying themselves $25 Million a year for management duties.
* Rebney is asked about the way he treated fighters while running Bellator MMA, Rebney said that he paid the fighters 53% of the margins in his most successful year as an MMA promoter.
* Kennedy comes to the defense of Rebney, Kennedy says that there is nobody from CAA even in the room with them right now, Kennedy says that something has to "f*cking" change and it has to do with nothing but the fighters.
* Rebney is asked about his future as a promoter, Rebney says that the MMAAA is his focus right now and he has been building the MMAAA for over two years now, Rebney says that MMA has been good to him and he has a chance to step up to do something right for the fighters and the sport, says he will leave if the fighters ask him to leave.
* The fighters are asked about the potential fear of coming together now, Cerrone says that he is still afraid and this does need to be done for the fighters out there. GSP steps in and says that a a lot of fighters are afraid right now, but it is time to step up and do the right thing right now, compares this situation to a fight in the octagon. Dillashaw says that he was nervous coming here for this conference call, but says he feels good for doing it.
* Rebney is asked about whether or not this is all a temporary money grab or if a class action lawsuit is coming in the future, Rebney says that a lawsuit makes no sense right now because this can be one without any litigation, but a litigation can come if nothing gets settled down the line. Rebney says that they are looking for a big financial settlement for past and present fighters, they are going to get from 8% to 50% of the revenue and they want a compensation package that is equal or similar to what other professional sports athletes get. Rebney says he feels that everything will get taken care of before this turns into a legal matter.
* UFC veteran Ian Mcall calls in and asked about how the MMAAA is planning to get other fighters aboard, Kennedy says that they plan on contacting fighters and gyms to give them all the information they need for joining, he says that the MMAAA wants to make sure all the fighters have a better future, while past fighters will be getting taken care of as well. Kennedy says people need to approach the people in the MMAAA and they will be actively recruiting as well. Rebney jumps in and says that they will be traveling everywhere to meet with everybody they can, there is also a bunch of people not at the call today who are going to be working with the fighters and others as well.
* Rebney is asked if the union will focus on other promotions (Bellator MMA/WSOF), Rebney says that right now, they are focused primarily on the UFC and WME-IMG. Rebney goes over the three tiers again, making note that past fighters of the UFC will be taken care of as well. Rebney also compares the sale of the UFC to other sports franchises, then talks about the money that WME-IMG is worth as well because they all need to step up.
* Rebney is asked if any other fighters are on board right now, Rebney says that they have talked to a lot of other fighters and announcements will be coming down the line.
* Rebney is also asked if the MMAAA has reached out to the UFC at this point, Rebney says that the plan at the moment is to attain a certain set of goals and they haven't contacted the UFC, because the UFC will be contacting them first.
* The MMAAA is asked about what the next steps are, they says that they have a well developed plan to ensure victory, but they are not revealing everything publicly because they do not want the UFC to know everything beforehand.
* Rebney is asked is the MMAAA is a union, Rebney says that a union is the worst thing for the fighters, Rebney talks about how a union cannot be formed against the UFC due to the fighters being "independent contractors." Then a court battle about the "independent contractor" status would take to long to battle and they will not be forming a union, as they are a trade association.
* Rebney is asked about what power the MMAAA has, Rebney says their power comes from the voices of the fighters on the call, plus the voices of the fighters who will be joining them in the future.
* Rebney is about how much of a settlement amount they are looking, Rebney says that they do not have an exact number at the moment, but then says that what WME-IMG has done since purchasing the UFC has been to the detriment of fighters, plus they are looking to right the wrong that has been done to the fighters.
* Rebney is asked about the structure of the MMAAA, Kennedy chimes in and says that while Rebney is going to run the day to day operations, but the organization will be run by the fighters and the board members (all 5 fighters who are on this call) will be voting on all matters, Rebney has no vote at all. Kennedy says that the fighters know just how bad things are, Rebney chimes back in and says his role will be that of an advisor, but all the things that will have to be voted on will be handled by the fighters.
* Rebney is asked about the lawsuits and legal issues the UFC is currently, GSP steps up and says that they will not be bought or told to shut up, GSP says that this type of thing has happened in other sports as well and it is happening now in MMA, GSP then says that all the fighters need to stand together. GSP then says that the team at MMAAA is a solid team and can be trusted.
* Rebney is asked if the MMAAA would turn into an actual fight promotion, Rebney says that it will never be turned into an MMA promotion.
* Kennedy is asked if the MMAAA is going to work with the Pro Fighters Association (PFA), he says that the MMAAA is not looking for a quick handout and the MMAAA will be backing the right horse, the MMAAA is here to change the sport forever, for the future fighters, as well as the past and present fighters.
* Rebney is asked about how this will affect fighter negotiations down the line, Rebney says that the goal in the end is to make sure that every fighter in the UFC will be compensated and properly taken care of for what they have sacrificed for the sport.
* GSP is asked if the rise of Bellator MMA has impacted the MMAAA at all, GSP says that the fighters should have the freedom to choose where they fight, but Bellator MMA has no direct influence on the MMAAA at all. GSP says that no matter where he has been or where he has trained at, he always hears about the problems the fighters have gone through with the UFC. GSP emphasizes once again that it is the right thing to do for the fighters to join the MMAAA.
* Cerrone is asked if the fighters will be retaliated against for joining the MMAAA, Cerrone says that he does not know about retaliation and he is still scared about being a public face of the group.
* Dillashaw is asked if the MMAAA can be used for fighters to get title shots, Dillashaw says the UFC can do whatever they want in that regard, but that the MMAAA is bigger than that.
* Rebney is asked about the UFC retaliating against the fighters who are going to be a part of the MMAAA, Rebney says that there are laws against a company retaliation and that added protection would be given to the fighters who speak up, plus they have a great legal team of over 40 lawyers to help out with any legal matters. Rebney says that the days of the UFC doing whatever they want are in the past now, Kennedy chimes in and says that the UFC's subjective opinions when offering fights and title shots is insane, he says the sport ha sgrown up and the fighters need to be taken care of.
* GSP is asked about bringing Conor McGregor into the group, GSP says that he cannot speak for McGregor, but he feels that he is aware of what is going on right now.GSP again urges fighters to come on board and the MMAAA will protect whomever comes aboard.
* Rebney is asked about Randy Couture coming abroad to the group, Rebney says he is a big fan of Couture and would welcome him to the association.
* GSP is asked if he has given up on fighting in the UFC, GSP says that being a part of the group hasn't changed anything and that he feels the UFC's offer was unfair. GSP says that just about every fighter he has spoken with agrees with him that they have not gotten their fair share from the UFC.
* GSP is asked if he feels he is still a free agent, GSP says that his lawyer told him that he is a free agent, but the UFC doesn't feel the same way.
* Rebney is asked about the CAA involvement in the matter, Rebney dismisses the CAA as a part of the group and the group is together simply to make sure that the fighters get what should be coming their way.
* Rebney is asked if he benefits from this in any way, Rebney says he has been involved in this for over two years and he hasn't gotten paid a penny since joining up. Rebney also says that MMA will be dead in a few years if they do not come together with the MMAAA to take care of the fighters.
* Rebney and Kennedy are asked about the funding behind the MMAAA, Rebney says that there has been people who have stepped up financially to help the group, Rebney says that the MMAAA has all the pieces in place to implement their gameplan in the future, they have offices and a website (MMAAA.com) as well, the headquarters are located in Anaheim Hills, California.
* Velasquez is asked if the fighters could go on strike, Velasquez says that the group wants to work with the UFC and not go on strike, they want to ensure that all the fighters who have competed in the promotion get what they deserve. Kennedy says that they do not want to go on strike, but want to work with the UFC to help build it to the biggest sport ever, but they want to make sure that the fighters are treated properly. Kennedy says that nobody should talk about a strike, but he wants to make sure that the fighters are taken care of because a lot of them are too damaged to even walk, he says that they are here to work together with the UFC.
* Rebney is asked if the fighters from Bellator MMA deserve the same protection as well, Rebney agrees that they do, but they have to make the changes to the UFC first.
* Rebney is asked about the short term goals for the MMAAA, Rebney says that is doesn't make sense to release their plans publicly at this time, but he feels that fighters need to reach out to the five fighters on this board right now to get all the information they need. Rebney says they have a great team and they will be traveling across the country to get fighters to join the MMAAA.
* Rebney revealed the Zach Light, who is a former Bellator MMA Matchmaker, is a part of the MMAAA team.
* Rebney is asked if the MMAAA has gotten input from other unions or associations in pro sports, Rebney says that have and that a lawyer by the name of Jim Quinn has been a great part of the team as well.
* GSP is asked about whether or not his contractual status with the UFC was a part of him joining the MMAAA, GSP says he would have been a part of the group in either way, but says if the UFC had done a better job in the past, this group wouldn;t be needed right now. GSP says this group needed to start somewhere and that day is today, he wants the UFC to be elevated and he knows that they are not going to like this at first.
* GSP is asked about how his free agent status affects him being a part of the group, GSP says that since the UFC considers him a part of the promotion, he is a part of the group. Kennedy steps in and he says that all the fighters who have fought in the UFC in the past can be a part of the group, then stating that since GSP is a past UFC fighter, he is a part of the group.
* Rebney again asked about the financial backers of the MMAAA, says the backers are not in it for the money, but to change the sport as a whole. Kennedy chimes in to assure that this is not a money grab and all the fighters state that they are not being paid to be a part of the group, Kennedy says they are not in it for the money, but to make changes for the fighters who are in the UFC.
* Rebney is asked about how the group will affect past UFC fighters, Rebney says one of the goals of the MMAAA is to create some kind of safety net for the past fighters who need help of just about any kind.
* Kennedy is asked if any female fighters will be a part of the MMAAA, he says that he has spoken with female fighters to be a part of the board down the line and claims that there are hundred of fighters of all genders who are interested in joining the MMAAA.
* Rebney is asked about why he didn't do something like this while being a part of Bellator MMA, Rebney says that his role as a promoter would have not allowed him to fully integrate himself into it, but his time as a promoter will help the group as a whole in the long run.
* Rebney is asked if the MMAAA has filed a charter, Rebney says no and the state of California has yet to fully approve their status as a tax free organization.
* Rebney is asked about negotiating with the UFC without some kind of government assistance, Rebney says the UFC would have to change the "independent contractor" status of their fighters down the line, which will help with the whole negotiation process.
* Rebney is asked about the ruling the the UFC isn't a monopoly, Rebney says that it isn't true and they are a monolpoly, which is something that will be changing down the line.
* Kennedy is asked if there is one head of the MMAAA, Kennedy says no and everything will be determined by the fighters, Kennedy says that the MMAAA will talk to the fighters to make sure that they are all getting taken care of in the best ways possible.