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Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association is announced

Matthew Wells

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016, will mark the date of a new revolution in the world of mixed martial arts.

Bjorn Rebney, founder and former CEO of Bellator, along with Georges St-Pierre, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, T.J. Dillashaw, Tim Kennedy, and Cain Velasquez were on hand today to announce the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association. The conference call lasted two hours and addressed many important questions from the media about the plans for the organization.

The idea of Rebney heading up the organization was a bit of a head scratcher for some in the MMA community. Some will point to his dealings at Bellator that left a sour taste in the mouth of certain managers and fighters. Undercard fighters were paid low wages and the lawsuit that Bellator filed against Eddie Alvarez while Rebney was in charge are just a couple of examples questioning his best interests of fighters’ well-being.  However, today’s call clarified Rebney’s role in the association.

While still very much in its infancy, the MMAAA board will currently consist of five fighters, the same five who were present for the conference call today. Tim Kennedy, Georges St-Pierre, Cain Velasquez, T.J. Dillashaw, and Donald Cerrone will make all of the major decisions of the association, while Rebney’s role will be that of an advisor. The fighters who put their health at risk will be the decision makers in this venture, which should appeal to other fighters interested in joining the association.

All of the fighters present today except Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone are represented by the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) which has a history of run-ins with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME-IMG). Many theories began flying around after the initial news of today’s call broke, mainly suggesting that this was another battle between CAA and WME-IMG. Bjorn Rebney directly addressed this question head on when asked during the call. “CAA is not backing this venture, but they’re supporting the athletes,” stated Rebney.  He would go on to shoot down the idea that this was something the CAA came up with to specifically target WME-IMG, who purchased the UFC for $4.2 billion earlier in 2016. Tim Kennedy supported Rebney’s comments by stating, “There’s nobody from CAA in this room right now. This has nothing to do with anyone else besides the fighters.”

The primary goal of the MMAAA is a collective bargaining agreement that will move the revenue share for fighters from an alleged 8% of UFC profits closer to 50%, similar to that of Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. While the exact percentage of revenue share is not currently known, it was stated as 8% during the conference call, however, it has been rumored that the actual number is closer to 15% of revenue currently being paid to the fighters in the UFC.

Health care is another major concern for the fighters, who expressed their desire for plans throughout the call. “There is no post-retirement health plan. That’s why we’re coming together now, to make our lives better now and for the future,” stated Cain Velasquez. After speaking about prior injuries and surgeries,  Velasquez who is scheduled to fight Fabricio Werdum at UFC 207 on December 30, 2016, stated he already has another surgery scheduled for a date after the bout.

Rebney was clear that the MMAAA is not a union, rather it is an association.  He stated that due to the independent contractor status of the UFC fighter a union is the incorrect avenue for the athletes to take on.  Rebney stated they are classified as a 501(c)(6) organization, which is a business league that is non-profit and no part of any earnings may benefit any private shareholder or individual.

Another key moment during the call, was the hint of a potential labor strike by UFC fighters.  Lucas Middlebrook, labor attorney well-known in MMA circles for handling Nick Diaz’ suspension case and was until recently supporting the Professional Fighters Association (PFA), suggests that not pursuing a union and threatening a strike is the wrong move:

Each of the fighters on the call expressed their desire for other fighters to reach out to them as soon as possible to discuss further details about the association, and why joining would benefit them. Over the course of two hours, many fighters engaged in conversation about the union, looking for answers to their questions.

For now, it’s unclear the immediate impact today’s announcement will have on fighters openly supporting the MMAAA, especially considering that Cerrone, Velasquez, Dillashaw, and Kennedy all have fights scheduled over the next month. Georges St-Pierre expressed he believes the UFC will view him as a villain, but it’s an acceptable tradeoff to do what is right for the fighters.

As Donald Cerrone stated during the call, “What’s going to happen, I have no f***** idea, but let’s run it until the goddamn wheels come off.”

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UFC looks for undefeated fighters for the next season of TUF

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As the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter comes to a close in a few weeks, UFC has set tryouts for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter on December 12th but there is a catch, participates must hold an undefeated record.

Titled The Ultimate Fighter 27: Battle of the Undefeated, the next installment of TUF will be looking for male fighters with an undefeated record with a minimum of 3-0 to apply for the show. The casting call asks for featherweights and welterweights but in the early stages of tryouts, a weight class will be decided later in the process.

Fighters must be aged between 21 – 34 and will grapple and light spar in front of UFC matchmakers and must be prepared to stay in Vegas until December 16th.

It is unknown what the future of TUF will be after the TV deal with FOX ends next year but the show has been a success for the company and many fighters to emerge from The Ultimate Fighter have become champion including current interim Lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and Strawweight champion Rose Namajunas coming from past seasons of the show.

This will be the third time in a row that a gimmick will be added to the show that has been on the decline in the ratings in recent years but yet to use only undefeated fighters. An undefeated streak can be one of the most prestigious records to keep in mixed martial arts with the wins and losses being so vital in a fighters career.

Who will keep their zero? Who will be the next Ultimate Fighter? Who will be the coaches?

These questions will be answered when the new season of TUF begins shooting in January and the show premiering later in the year.

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Tom Gallicchio on UFC Release “It’s Been a Dream of Mine to Fight in KSW”

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest spoke to TUF 22 and 25 season competitor Tom Gallicchio about being cut from the UFC, and potential promotions that he could sign for in the future.

Gallicchio (19-10) signed for the UFC after reaching the semi-finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Season 25. Losing to James Krause in his debut, “Da Tank” was informed earlier this month that the UFC had parted ways with him.


Q: Before we jump into the whole free agency stuff, talk me through how the UFC broke the news that they were going to release you?

I thought I was going to have another fight, this time at lightweight. I got a letter dated July 7th, saying they were going to keep me, I received it in September. I was getting emails to update my USADA, I never got a cut letter and I got tested by USADA on October 24th. I was hoping to fight sometime in January or February, then they broke the news to me that they need to make a room for new talent.

Q: You made your UFC debut against James Krause in July, then 4 months down the line, they cut you. How surprised were you at this somewhat out of the blue decision?

I’m thankful for my opportunity in the UFC and the fact that they gave me another shot, but it was definitely surprising how it happened.  They released a newsletter in September welcoming Jesse (Taylor) Dhiego (Lima) and myself into the UFC, all signs pointed towards another fight. Hearing that I was cut was just heartbreaking.

Q: Have any talks started with a new promotion. I saw you name a few on Twitter, the likes of  Bellator, BAMMA, KSW and ACB. Who do you see yourself signing for?

I would love to compete in any of those! A couple of them hit me up, one of which I am very happy to talk with. Since they came out, It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW. They’re taking care of their fighters, I would love to fight for them. I want to travel, I want to see the world, I want to fight. I’ve got a lot of fans overseas and I want to give them a show.

It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW.

Q: Your long time friend Jesse Taylor was victorious in the TUF 25 Finale, but he has since accepted a 1-year ban for failing a USADA test. What is your take on this given how close you two are?

I know Jesse is not a juicer, I’ve known him ever since I came down to (Team) Quest. It’s probably come from some supplement that he’s taking, it sucks for him. I think he went into a little bit of panic mode, he could have done a better job of handling it.

I don’t take supplements, if there was a way, I’d still keep myself in the USADA pool just because I believe in a clean sport. I think it’s important we keep the sport clean and if we’re cleaning up the supplement companies then good, because no one else is.

Where would you look to see Tom fight next? Let us know below!

 

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Darren Till vs Stephen Thompson set for February 24th in England

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Stephen Thompson

Wow! Nobody could have expected this news this morning. Dana White has stated he is moving the UFC Fight Night card in Orlando, Florida to the UK so rising star Darren Till (16-0-1) can face Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson (14-2-1) in his backyard.

According to Lance Pugmire of the LA Times, Dana White revealed the news during a Q&A in Santa Monica, California.

Logistically this fight has its problems. White didn’t state that the fight was scheduled to take place in Liverpool, I assume that is plan A for the UFC though. However, on the 24th the Echo Arena in Liverpool is booked by the UK MMA promotion, Cage Warriors.

Although White may be able to throw some money at the promotion, it is unlikely they’ll budge. Another possibility is to co-promote an event with Cage Warriors, but that’s even more unlikely, even though the concept is a great one.

The fight would not make sense in another UK city like Glasgow, Birmingham or Newcastle. Making the fight is strange if it’s unable to be in Liverpool, or at the top of the UFC London card.

🦍 #UFCLiverpool

A post shared by Till (@darrentill2) on

The event would be three weeks before UFC London, which is unheard of for events over in Europe. Normally England would be lucky to get two events in a year, let alone a month. Which makes you think it will either be one or the other. European cards are never typically stacked and having two in the space of three weeks in one country would eat into the quality on show in each card.

Could this be another case of Dana White talking too soon, or are we set for two mega UFC fights in the space of three weeks in the UK. We’ll find out soon enough.

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