Former UFC Champion and legendary fighter Randy Couture reacted to the new Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association by praising Donald Cerrone, Cain Velasquez, Tim Kennedy, T.J. Dillashaw, and Georges St-Pierre Wednesday night, while questioning the motives of their advisor, former Bellator owner Bjorn Rebney.
“We have a great respect for those five athletes, and we are happy and we are excited that they are standing up,” Couture said. “I think everybody has a question about what Bjorn’s motives are and what exactly is going on there and I think that’ll come out in time. His reputation as a promoter precedes him a little bit and so it’s interesting now that all the sudden he’s for fighter rights and all these things that obviously as the CEO of a major fight organization he didn’t demonstrate that same feeling.”
Audio: GSP, Rebney, others announce MMA Athletes Association
Listen to the audio from today’s special conference call, which announced the formation of the MMA Athletes Association.
On a nearly two-hour long conference call announcing the new association, Rebney called for Couture to join them, saying they are not working with another fighters association. Couture said he is firmly with the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association and has no intention of leaving. However, he is open to learning about the MMAAA’s long-term goals.
“Am I open to discuss what their goal is and where they are headed and how they see me fitting into that? I’d be silly not to have that conversation,” Couture said.
“I wanna see the structure in the sport corrected so that all of us as fighters across the board, regardless of promotion can benefit and get our fair value in an open marketplace and I don’t see those same goals with the athletes association, at least not at this point” – Randy Couture
However, Couture says while the MMAAA has similar goals, their narrow focus will not serve the sport in the same way as the MMAFA’s efforts.
“They are only concerned with those athletes that are independent contractors with the UFC. To get all of what we need to get accomplished, we need to unite as fighters, all of us,” he said. “I’ve been working with MMAFA for a while and I wanna see the sport change. I wanna see the structure in the sport corrected so that all of us as fighters across the board, regardless of promotion can benefit and get our fair value in an open marketplace and I don’t see those same goals with the athletes association, at least not at this point.”
Couture has long been considered a leader in the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association, which lists support and participation from more than three hundred fighters across all promotions. The MMAFA has been in operation for close to a decade. Among its major accomplishments, it lists pending legislation to expand the Muhammad Ali Act to MMA and a class action lawsuit against the UFC.
On Wednesday’s conference call, Rebney criticized the class-action suit, incorrectly stating that Couture was a part of the suit, which he is not. Couture says his efforts are focused on federally regulating MMA, under the Ali Act, to eliminate unfair contracts and create an independent ranking system.