Earlier this week, we were introduced to the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA), an organization created with the goal of improving the way fighters are treated by the UFC’s new owners, WME-IMG.
This organization has been helmed by a team of talented UFC stars: former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, former heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez, former bantamweight champ TJ Dillashaw, former lightweight title challenger Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, and former Strikeforce middleweight champ Tim Kennedy. The other face in the vanguard of this new initiative is estranged former Bellator president Bjorn Rebney.
Given that Rebney was known for his somewhat shady dealings as Bellator president, his involvement in this new fighter’s association resulted in quite a few head-scratches. On the latest episode of The Luke Tomas Show, Kennedy addressed this controversy, and explained why the infamous Rebney was made part of the team.
“Not to sound like a d*ck, but he’s almost a necessary evil,” Kennedy said on the show. “We can’t go into the conversations without understanding the nuances and subtleties that existed within the promotion – the things that promoters do to garner money, the types of partnerships they create, from vendors using the arenas to sponsors with the promotion to ticket sales to pay per view sales to website content to partnerships with networks. Those are things that I don’t know, Cain Velasquez doesn’t know, TJ doesn’t know, GSP doesn’t know, Cowboy [Cerrone] doesn’t know, and even the lawyers don’t know that because they’ve never been a promoter trying to work every single angle.”
Kennedy also added that he believes Rebney’s heart is firmly in the right place, and that he truly wants to take care of the fighters.
“These are the things I know about Bjorn: his heart right now is 100% in the right place to maybe right wrongs of what he’s done as a promoter and take care of fighters like he’s never been able to before. His job as a promoter is to make money and to drive sales, drive content and that’s what he did very successfully. Now, now his job is to ensure that the fighters for the first time have an opportunity to be fairly compensated. So he has the knowledge and the expertise that maybe nobody else besides Scott Coker and Dana White have. And don’t think Scott wasn’t talked to and considered but this had to be done.”
“This is an enormous undertaking that’s not gonna be done with an agent that manages baseball players. This had to be done with the best and the brightest people who knew the dirty secrets about this sport. The complexity of what this is gonna be couldn’t be done without this team that we have. It is extensive and comprehensive and we are brilliantly positioned to be an overwhelming success for the fighters.”
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