Talk of a fighter union has long buzzed on the fringes of mixed martial arts in general, and around the UFC specifically. So when five fighters and a former promoter announced the formation of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association last week, an organization formed explicitly for UFC fighters, it didn’t exactly surprise UFC president Dana White.
What did surprise the MMA juggernaut’s head honcho, however, was the inclusion of one specific fighter: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. That Cerrone was one of the five fighters that announced the MMAAA wasn’t the surprising factor, so much as his participation came out of left field.
“Listen, at the end of the day, here’s the reality, the fighters can go out and do whatever they wanna do. They’re all grown men,” White said during a recent edition of UFC Unfiltered.
“I’m a little shocked, I’ll tell you this, that Cowboy Cerrone didn’t give me a call.”
White has had an on-again, off-again relationship with Georges St-Pierre, and contract negotiations with the former UFC welterweight champion have taken a nose dive since WME-IMG took control of the promotion. St-Pierre is obviously the biggest name to be associated with the MMAAA, and not really that much of a surprise. White wouldn’t expect St-Pierre to discuss the such a move with him.
Cain Velasquez, TJ Dillashaw, and Tim Kennedy are the others involved as the controlling board members of the association, as is Cerrone. All have publicly commented about the need for some sort of fighter union or association, and none of them talked to White prior to the association’s announcement. The one that really seemed to bother White was Cerrone, whom he has perhaps had deeper dealings with than some of the others.
“(Cerrone has) only main evented, headlined like three fights, Fight Nights. Never held the title in the WEC; never held the title in the UFC. And a couple years ago, he was on his boat. He gets into a beef with a guy on another boat. He’s in big trouble. Who does he call? He calls me,” White recounted.
“What do I do? I go out and find him the best criminal defense lawyer. And I spent over $100,000 of my own money. So when I see Cowboy standing up there, really?”
White didn’t say that Cerrone shouldn’t participate in a fighter association, but indicated that he might have appreciated a call from Cerrone saying, “Hey, this is what we’re doing and this is why.”
That call never came.
“Never heard a word from Cowboy, but whatever, it’s all good. He’s a big boy, he can do what he wants to do.”