UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor sounds supportive about a possible union in mixed martial arts, but don’t expect him to throw his weight behind the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA).
Last November, several high-profile fighters, including Georges St-Pierre, Cain Velasquez and T.J. Dillashaw banded together to announce the formation of a new fighters association aimed at getting collective bargaining rights for UFC athletes among a laundry list of demands.
During the initial announcement to introduce the MMAAA, McGregor’s name came up as a targeted fighter to enlist because his name and drawing power would certainly go a long way towards validating any union or association gaining power in dealing with the UFC.
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McGregor heard all about the MMAAA as well as his name being dropped during the conversation, but he’s definitely not on board with that particular association after what he witnessed.
“Did you see that union thing? What happened with that union thing? I’m watching this union thing, it’s like a press conference, and I’m like what the (expletive) is going on here,” McGregor said during his recent Q&A in England. “They’re standing up and they’re all wearing the same t-shirt and they’re saying ‘Conor, please? Conor please, you know what’s right. Help us out, Conor!’
“Georges (St-Pierre) is saying ‘Conor’s a good person, I know he gets paid well but he doesn’t get paid enough’. I’m like what the (expletive) are you talking about? The only reason you’re standing in the middle of that union is because you couldn’t get the deal that you want. You’re the fakest of everyone up there. That’s another situation maybe down the line.”
Clearly, McGregor didn’t take kindly to St-Pierre mentioning his name or evaluating what he’s being paid by the UFC.
McGregor contends that St-Pierre’s anger with the UFC stems more from his own dealings with the promotion rather than standing up for fighters’ rights at large.
“There needs to be something, but that wasn’t it,” McGregor said about the MMAAA. “I don’t know what that was. That was like a failed promoter (Bjorn Rebney), Georges was up there angry because he couldn’t get the deal he wanted. It was just the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
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While McGregor may not agree with the MMAAA, he does believe there are changes that could be made for fighters across the board and it appears that he’s willing to stand up for that if the right situation comes along.
Currently, there are several unions or associations all battling for the same piece of the pie to represent athletes in the UFC and other fight promotions, but no one group has stood head and shoulders above the rest.
“As fighters, as a person that’s dedicated everything, as a person that can retire now comfortably, and I look at situations that my peers are in and people that are assigned to the promotion, there needs to be something. I’m not sure what it is,” McGregor said. “There needs to be something but I don’t know what it is. I’m focusing on me. I’m focusing on my family’s security, my family’s financial security so that’s all I can do.
“When I saw that I just thought it was the biggest, fakest load of (expletive) I’d ever seen in my life.”
As much as McGregor would like to support his fellow fighters with an association or some kind of union, he also believes that more athletes need to be willing to work for what they are receiving.
When McGregor arrived in the UFC he spoke openly about being on social welfare in his native Ireland before winning his first fight and receiving a post-fight bonus from the promotion. Since that time, McGregor has transformed into the biggest star in UFC history while earning multi-millions over the course of his career.
McGregor says he didn’t get that spot by accident and more fighters need to be willing to fight for the same because no one should expect to be handed anything.
“I wish everyone well but you need to focus on yourself,” McGregor said. “You need to stop putting your hand out. Everyone wants hand outs. Everyone wants things for free. You’ve got to put in the work. You’ve got to grind. You’ve got go through the struggle and you’ve got to get it.
“If you deserve it, go get it. Don’t complain, don’t cry, get to (expletive) work and go get it. A lot of people don’t do that. A lot of people cry and complain and put their hand out and beg. It never goes well. There needs to be something, I just don’t know what that is.”