Ahead of his main event clash against Japanese judo expert Satoshi Ishii in Dublin next Friday night, the Tennessee native had no qualms about critiquing elements of the new fighters’ association, MMAAA.
For Lawal, the most obvious outstanding issue is the association’s sole focus on fighters within the UFC. Such is his discontent with MMAAA’s exclusion of all other organizations that he feels a different name needs to be used by the newly formed association.
“I don’t really care about the new association,” he replied when asked about his feelings on the MMAAA.
“I wish them all the best, but it doesn’t affect MMA fighters, it only affects UFC fighters. It should be called the UFCAA, that’s what I think. It has nothing to do with MMA whatsoever, just UFC.”
Even putting their exclusive focus on UFC fighters to the side, one of the most controversial aspects of the MMAAA that was revealed through their press conference last weekend was the presence of Bjorn Rebney.
The former Bellator president has been lambasted for his treatment of fighters over the years, which made his inclusion in the press conference that was geared towards gaining more rights for fighters very peculiar.
‘King Mo’ was engaged in a war of words with Rebney after his decision loss to Quinton Jackson back in May 2014. Lawal insisted that the former Bellator CEO was “bad for the sport” and suggested that the canvas used in Bellator’s cage was not fit for competition.
To illustrate how strange it is to see Rebney at the helm of the new association, Lawal compared his old boss to notoriously crooked boxing promoter, Don King.
He said: “You know who Don King is right? Everybody knows who Don King is…Don King is a person who was rumored to rob a lot of boxers and cheat them out of a lot of money. Some people say he took millions of Mike Tyson alone.
“Imagine if one day Don King decided that he was going to be in charge of all boxers’ bank accounts. Just to make sure the money is safe, right? Do you think boxers would trust Don King to be in charge of their bank accounts? No.
“I’ve been in business meetings with Bjorn and I know how Bjorn works with people, he has no ethics. I know how he done me and other people, so it makes no sense to me that he would be brought in to help these guys.
“If anything he should be behind the scenes, not at the front of a press conference. To have that guy out front immediately made them lose some credibility.
“Maybe, behind the scenes, he could help the guys maneuver their way through the dirt, but he shouldn’t be out in front as the face of this thing that they’re trying to accomplish. That’s a no-no in my book.”
Lawal echoed the common refrain that has been put about since the press conference when he suggested that the association is nothing but a rouse from talent agency CAA, the main rivals to UFC’s new owners, WME IMG.
“Here’s the thing, right, a lot of the fans think this it’s great, but they’re near-sighted. They don’t ask themselves, ‘If this is MMAAA where are the fighters from the other promotions? Why aren’t they involved in this organization’
“I heard nobody talking about how weird that was until days after the announcement. Some of the fans just see things too short term.
“This is all about money. If it weren’t, then all organizations would be involved. Right now the UFC is the hot thing, it sold for $4 billion dollars, they see them dollar signs.
“WME IMG, the new UFC owners, their main rivals are CAA. Well, guess what? CAA represents all of the fighters at that press conference. It seems to me like this association is being put together to go after the buyers of the UFC.
“There it is right there in a nutshell.”
Although he clearly sees various flaws within the new association since it’s inception, ‘King Mo’ made it clear that he wasn’t disappointed with any of the fighters that came forward to speak out about fighter welfare, as those fighters are contracted to UFC.
“No, I’m not disappointed,” he stated.
“Like I said, this is for the UFC. It’s not MMA. It would be different if they represented all of MMA, but it’s just the UFC. All of us guys that aren’t in the UFC, we couldn’t care less about this. It’s not for the good of MMA.
“Seriously, they should change the name to MMAAA to UFCAA.”
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