Former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has branded the new owners of the UFC as ‘bullies’ and outlined his motivations behind helping to launch the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association.
Last week Rebney announced the formation of the group on a conference call in an attempt to promote the rights of UFC fighter and earn them a greater share of revenue from the new owners of the promotion, WME-IMG.
During an appearance on MMA Hour, Rebney said: “WME-IMG and UFC today — that conglomerate — they’re bullies.
“And it may not be with their hands, but it’s with their money and it’s with their power and it’s with their influence.”
UFC fighters Donald Cerrone, TJ Dillashaw, Cain Velasquez and Tim Kennedy, along with welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, all joined in the conference call with Rebney, who said he will act in an advisory role and will not make decisions on behalf of the group.
On the call, the group said they were looking for, among other things, a pension, retirement plan and full scale health care for both retired and current fithers.
Rebney added: “There’s nothing in place, and this is the most violent sport on the face of the Earth.
“The repercussions for a mixed martial artist far surpass those from hockey or football or, for God’s sake, even boxing. Even boxing. And boxing has got a real ugly progressive step for its athletes. And you’ve got nothing in place? No.”
Earlier in the year, WME-IMG purchased the UFC for $4 billion from Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, along with Dana White, who held onto his role as president.
Rebney continued: “That didn’t come from Dana or Lorenzo. That came on the backs of fighters, who packed the arenas, drove the pay-per-view buy rates, drove the international and domestic television, the sponsorships, the closed circuit, etc., etc.”