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Donald Cerrone eases off association talk, says ‘I didn’t know I was sitting on a board’

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TORONTO – Last week Donald Cerrone was part of a five-man collective of UFC fighters that announced the formation of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association. A week later, with a fight looming on Saturday night at UFC 206 against Matt Brown, Cerrone said he wasn’t nearly as involved with the MMAAA as it might have appeared.

During a media scrum after the open workouts at Massey Hall on Wednesday, Cerrone clarified his standing with the MMAAA, and his featured involvement was a bit of a misunderstanding.

"As far as the Association goes man, Georges [St-Pierre] and Tim [Kennedy] called me and asked me to be part of it," Cerrone said. "I didn’t know I was sitting on a board. That kind of took me by surprise, sitting there like, oh wow. I spoke to Dana [White] today on the phone. He’s coming to town, and we’re going to go out to dinner and talk. There’s a lot of things I think this sport needs, you know, retirement pension, health care, things I think we need."

Cerrone was among the five fighters that presented a unified front on the subject of fighter pay, health care, and collective bargaining. Among the others sitting at his side were former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, and the aforementioned Kennedy and St-Pierre.

Also working on the board in an "advisory" role was former Bellator CEO, Bjorn Rebney, a divisive presence that became the subject of much scrutiny and debate.

Cerrone said his attendance was more opinion-based, rather than one of the spearheads.

"I wasn’t sitting there saying, ‘we’re moving forward today, we’re going on strike, we need more money," he said during the scrum. "That wasn’t coming out of mouth at all. There were a couple of people that were there that I don’t plan on working with and being a part of, not mentioning any names. I was there mostly just, not saying I’m leading a board or I’m sitting on a board, but more voicing my opinion of what this sport needs.

"Moving forward, I’m still going to stand strong with those and say this is what I believe we need. I believe as a whole we need health care, we need some kind of pension for retirement. The UFC has been nothing but great to me. I can’t complain, they give me what I want. And like Dana said, I called him and he helped me out. That’s true, man. I was in a bind, he got the best lawyers you can pay, and saved my ass."

Cerrone reiterated that "it came off wrong," before stating that he would have a conversation with UFC president Dana White while in Toronto. White expressed confusion and disappointment in Cerrone during an interview on the UFC Unfiltered podcast earlier this week, citing his assistance to Cerrone during a recent boat incident. 

Asked what White had told him so far, Cerrone said it was a brief discussion.

"He said, listen kid, you can do anything you want. We have a good relationship him and I, and he’s right I probably should have called him and said, ‘hey man, I’m going to do this,’ instead of getting back-handed in the face."