Saturday night, Tim Kennedy will make his return to the Octagon after more than two years away from the sport. During that time, he’s gone on secret missions, made movies and become one of the faces and board members of the newly formed MMAAA (Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association).
In an interview with Ariel Helwani, Tim fielded questions about how the UFC reception has been this week, why Bjorn Rebney is important to the MMAAA, despite his disagreement with the former Bellator CEO’s “caustic” approach and what we can expect in the very near future from the association.
I’ve transcribed almost the entire interview, but there is a small bit on Donald Cerrone I left for your listening pleasure.
Ariel Helwani: What’s the reception been like after last week? Have you felt any different?
Tim Kennedy: The UFC has been awesome. No issues at all, strictly professional and on point on the operations side, taking care of me and everything that I need. [Taking care of] my team—even going above and beyond logistically—picking up some of my guys that weren’t official corners, but they helped them with transportation. It’s just non-stop—like a good promotion should.
Ariel Helwani: TJ Dillashaw told me he wished Bjorn were a little less confrontational. Do you share that sentiment? Do you feel you need to rein him in, because you guys made a point of saying he was not a part of the board, that he was just an advisor, yet he has been dominating the headlines thus far?
Tim Kennedy: He’s dominated the headlines because we have fights coming up. The voice is gonna change. He says…whatever. The voice of the association is gonna be centric to fighters kind of moving forward in the very, very near future when we don’t have fights. Two are in fight camps and the other two of us fight this week, so it’s going to dynamically change.
Bjorn is kind of adversarial, confrontational, caustic.
Ariel Helwani: Do you like that approach?
Tim Kennedy: That’s who he is, and no, I don’t. This is professionalism, this is about reshaping the sport and we have to be above that. We have to be what it needs to be, which is an adult, real, professional sport.
Ariel Helwani: Do you regret the decision of including him?
Tim Kennedy: No, man. We have to have that knowledge and that perspective and that intimate understanding of a promoter. We can’t move forward without that. There’s only a few people on the planet that have that experience. There’s like four or five guys and a gal. That’s it.
Ariel Helwani: Are you ready to announce more fighter names?
Tim Kennedy: Yeah, after this Saturday.