When the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA) was announced in November last year, the influence of its members forced the world of MMA to sit up and pay attention.
Former MMA legend Georges St. Pierre joined two other former (but both active) champions in heavyweight Cain Velasquez and bantamweight T.J Dillashaw. Additionally, the fan favorite Donald Cerrone and the popular Tim Kennedy were also part of the collective. The final face of the group was the most controversial: Bjorn Rebney.
For a start, Rebney was not (and never had been) a fighter. While many speculated on his place within the fighters’ union, UFC President Dana White referred to the Bellator Fighting Championships founder as a “gluttonous pig”. The inclusion of the man who clearly incensed the UFC president seemed inflammatory, to say the least, especially when White had already made his mind up as to Rebney’s intentions and interests. White’s opinion was simple:
“You’ve got to figure out whose hand you want in your pocket. And I guarantee you, you don’t want Bjork’s hand in your pocket. You know what I mean?”
Rebney was replaced as promoter of the world’s second largest MMA promotion in 2014 by current chief Scott Coker. To say that Bellator’s ex-CEO had an unsavory reputation among ex-fighters (for one, he was accused of allegedly “stealing millions of dollars from fighters through unscrupulous dealings) would be an understatement. Naturally, there was an element of head scratching when he was announced as part of the MMAAA.
Tim Kennedy is now a former UFC middleweight, having announced his retirement from fighting last week. Kennedy is also the president of the MMAAA, and discussed his role and responsibilities, plus the poor judgement to include Rebney in affairs on The MMA Hour on Monday:
“It was a mistake during the announcement to have him be a public presence. We obviously regretted that. But he will still be somebody that the board members will go to and ask, ‘As a promoter, did you do this?’”
“I need that information and he will be the guy that I am going to ask those questions to,” Kennedy said. “But he has no authority and he has no position within the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association and he has no vote.”
“He’s never been a part in a sense that he has any authority or ability to affect anything,” Kennedy said. “The only people that can vote are board members and the only ones people that can be board members are fighters.
“His role has not changed. But I regret that he was a distraction.”
It’s an important message to put out there for the fighters, and for the fans. UFC president Dana White was already using Bjorn Rebney’s presence to question the motives of the entire organization, saying “You’ve got to figure out whose hand you want in your pocket. And I guarantee you, you don’t want Bjork’s hand in your pocket. You know what I mean?”
With little activity publicised on the MMAAA, 2017 should elucidate the plans of the organization. Kennedy has certainly been entrusted with the role of pushing the organization forward, and who better to entrust with the mission than a former member of the Special Forces?