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MMA fighters form group in bid to address revenue balance

A group of mixed martial artists have formed an association that will seek to secure top fighters a more equitable split of the revenue generated from lucrative promotions such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association has been formed by Georges St. Pierre, Cain Velasquez and TJ Dillashaw, and has received the backing of Donald Cerrone and Tim Kennedy. Bjorn Rebney, former chief executive of the Bellator series, is also advising the fighters on the venture.

The association has been set up with aim of striking a deal with the UFC that would grant fighters a greater proportion of the money generated by the promotion, which was bought by the WME-IMG agency earlier this year for around $4bn (€3.8bn).

St. Pierre (pictured), a former UFC welterweight champion, believes fighters should join the new association to stand up for what is “right”.

“This is a different kind of fight,” he said, according to the Associated Press news agency. “Even though you're afraid, it's time to step up and do the right thing. It's a fight (between) what is right and what is wrong, and we should never be afraid to stand for the virtues, to stand for what is right."

St. Pierre served as the UFC welterweight champion and one of its leading stars between 2007 and 2013, while Velasquez has won the UFC heavyweight belt twice in the past. St. Pierre’s last fight was three years ago but he has admitted that he is considering a comeback.

St. Pierre added: “I know agents will be threatened by UFC, and they'll try to convince their fighters that it's a bad idea to join us. I know, because I've been there before. I don't have to work another day in my life, but I want to change things for the right.”

The union is the latest body formed with the intention of addressing the balance of power in UFC. In August, the Professional Fighters Association launched, with the main aim of securing a more even distribution revenue for fighters. The PFA will seek to replicate the success of similar unions formed in other sports.

"These athletes are risking more for less than any professional athletes on earth," Rebney said. "They are paid pennies on the dollar."

Rebney also described the UFC as "an egregious, predatory monopoly" and said he will seek to secure an unspecified set of benefits for former UFC fighters as part of a settlement for the promotion's past revenue-sharing practices, in addition to improved conditions for current fighters.