UFC Fortaleza’s Tim Means spoke to Bloody Elbow about his new deal with the UFC and the serious concerns he has over the GSP-fronted MMAAA.
At UFC 207, Tim Means’ scrap with Alex Oliveira ended in a No Contest, after Means threw a set of illegal knees at his opponent. This weekend, at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Gastelum, Means has a chance at a do-over with he and Oliveira booked to fight on the main card.
In the build-up to this Saturday’s fight ‘The Dirty Bird’ has been open in expressing his dislike for ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira and his team. Means has been equally candid in discussing current attempts to organize mixed martial artists towards a goal of collective bargaining.
In December, ahead of UFC 207, Means was asked by Bloody Elbow for his take on the prospect of a fighters’ association or union. The 26-12-1 (1NC) welterweight was less than thrilled with what was currently on offer, especially from the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA), which was originally fronted by Bjorn Rebney, Georges St-Pierre, Tim Kennedy, Donald Cerrone, Cain Velasquez, and T.J. Dillashaw.
Means was taken aback by the MMAAA launch in November, 2016 and expressed a wish that more fighters were briefed on that organization’s plans ahead of the media and the public. However, he was interested in learning more. He reached out to Tim Kennedy for information. Means didn’t hear back from the former UFC middleweight, but chalked that up to Kennedy being deep into a fight camp preparing for Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 206.
Last week, when Bloody Elbow asked him whether he had gotten a response from Kennedy, Means sneered: “Of course not.”
“Those dudes are all in that s—t for themselves,” charged Means. “Look at Donald Cerrone, he jumped off that ship in a matter of days. I never heard from Kennedy because it’s trash. It’s garbage. It’s just a garbage plan that they have.”
Means feels that part of the MMAAA’s strategy has been to use ‘big name’ fighters in order to convince MMA fans to support their cause. He said this has resulted in fans ‘chirping’ him; asking for him to get behind the MMAAA because of who is already there. Means hasn’t appreciated this.
“That thing just doesn’t make sense to me just yet,” said Means. “There’s more questions than answers and it’s gonna take more than just a couple of fans saying, ‘Oh St-Pierre’s at the table. You have to get on board because these guys are smart.’ Well, yeah, I’m not there to take pictures with ‘superstars’ and do all that.”
“They’re all in it for themselves,” continued Means. “They’re trying to get people on board so they can try and get more numbers for themselves.” Means expressed bemusement at the MMAAA’s lack of information, including whether they are concerned with only UFC fighters and if so, what happens once MMAAA members are cut/released by the UFC. Means also bemoaned what he saw as a track record of inconsistency out of the fledgling labor organization.
“Since the last time I talked about this, they jumped off that Rebney dude’s jock strap,” said Means. “They had him handling it and Tim Kennedy came out said himself that he was the wrong dude to bring in. They have to get themselves organized before too many people want to jump on their bandwagon. Rebney was the wrong dude, and it just shows that they’re inconsistent with the choices they are making right now, so it’s not something that interests me.
“It was quite funny to see how quickly that changed with Cerrone; in just a couple of days. And then St-Pierre was so upset – telling fighters that they should not be scared to climb on board. Look how quickly he turned his little cheek and looked the other way; as soon as title fights started getting offered. You haven’t heard him bring up a union this time around. Now, all of a sudden, he’s excited and happy to be back.”
Means did state that he believes there are merits to collective bargaining and that fighters working together could secure benefits such as pensions and increased health care coverage. Currently he doesn’t believe there’s an organization capable of such goals. Means is also hesitant to get on board with the MMAAA and other such groups because he is very happy with his current working relationship with ZUFFA, and especially Dana White.
“I just renegotiated another new contract for another four-fight deal with numbers that I’m very happy with,” revealed Means. “It just takes time to negotiate with the boss. We had to reach out and talk, I didn’t like the first offer he gave me. I turned it down, we negotiated a little bit more, and the numbers went to where I wanted them. It just came with communication, and not with bagging on my damn job or bagging on my company.”
Means said he hadn’t yet met with the UFC’s new owners, but that he has semi-regular contact with White. Means also revealed that White gave him a ‘little bonus’ after the no contest with Oliveira.
In addition to being skeptical that unions could help him negotiate better deals with the UFC, Means also took exception to the idea that a fighters’ association could improve his sponsorship situation – possibly by ending the much maligned Reebok deal.
“Before the Reebok deal, I had eight sponsors on my gear, and I’d get paid by only one sponsor sometimes, or none at all sometimes, or they pay me six or seven months after the fact. People are saying the Reebok deal is garbage…I get free gear and $10,000. That’s more money than I’ve ever made from sponsorship.”
Means needs three more fights before his Reebok earnings increase to $15,000 per fight. The first of those is this Saturday in Fortaleza, Brazil. “I thought the fight was starting to become fireworks,” said Means of his first clash with Oliveira, before attempting to sell the fight with one more dig at am MMAAA poster-boy.
“If you want to watch guys high-five and spar, turn on a Cerrone fight. If you want to watch two guys who dislike each other get after it, tune in to this fight. The fight’s gonna start off where it left last time and it’s gonna be a nasty fight because we do not like each other.”
The rematch of Tim Means and Alex Oliveira goes down on Saturday night at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Gastelum. You can see it live on FOX Sports 1.