Many Questions Unanswered About Bellator’s Championship Rematch Clause

By Adam Martin Subscribe to Articles by Adam Martin

We may be closer to a rematch of one of the best fights of

Earlier this week, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney announced in a
letter to fans posted on that starting in January when Bellator
makes its debut on Spike TV, the promotion will put a “championship
rematch” clause in their bout agreements.

According to the letter, this means that if there’s a fight
that’s either so controversial or so great that a rematch is necessary – like
the 2011″Fight of the Year” contender between Bellator World Lightweight
champion Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez – Bellator can elect to hold an
immediate rematch instead of making the losing fighter have to win another
grueling tournament in order to gain a title fight rematch.
That is the issue with Alvarez, who is currently a free
agent. He wants a rematch with Chandler badly, but Bellator has been unwilling
to budge from their tournament format, despite Alvarez being their biggest star
and first champion. Now, though, it appears as though Bellator may be willing
to give Alvarez the fight he desperately craves in an attempt to keep him under
contract when the promotion makes its debut on Spike, and in order to keep him
from signing with the UFC or any other organization that has the financial
clout to sign the perennial top-10 lightweight fighter.
But who will decide, if Alvarez re-signs, that he gets a
shot at the lightweight title, possibly even bypassing No. 1 contender Rick Hawn in the title queue despite the fact Hawn won the last lightweight
tournament and has earned his spot? Or will Alvarez have to wait for Hawn to
receive his shot first, keeping the superstar on the shelf even longer?
It’s these unanswered questions that have me somewhat
concerned about just what this championship rematch clause really means. While
it may seem nice on paper, what are the ramifications for the promotion, for
the fighters, and for the fans? Is the clause a good thing or a bad thing?
I believe there are both Pros and Cons.
As for Pros, it’s great that the option is there for
Bellator to book rematches of competitive and/or controversial fights like
Chandler vs. Alvarez (competitive) and Jay Hieron vs. Ben Askren (controversial). It’s not easy to work your way through a tournament, and to
have to win yet another three or four fights just to get a rematch of a close
fight is a tough sell to fighters who are thinking about signing with Bellator,
particularly the marquee names. It’s one of the reasons why Hieron left for the
UFC and why Alvarez may follow him, so in this sense this rematch clause is a
good thing for Bellator, the fighters, and the fans.
However, there are no doubt Cons as well.
Let me give you a scenario: In a few weeks, Bellator World
Light Heavyweight Champion Christian  M’Pumbo will defend his belt for the first
time (and compete for the first time in 13-plus months) when he takes on Attila Veigh, who won the promotion’s most recent light heavyweight tourney.
Keeping that fight in mind, remember that in January
Bellator will have another 205-pound tourney featuring No. 1 seed and recent
signee Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, as well as Renato “Babalu” Sobral, among
others. Bellator spent big money on these guys and want them to do well in the
tournament in order to put one of them in a title fight.
But let’s say that M’Pumbo and Veigh have a close fight and
that fans demand the rematch, and let’s say that Bellator grants it. That puts
the winner of the light heavyweight tourney in a holding pattern while he waits
for the rematch. And what happens if someone gets injured, causing further
delay? It could be a messy situation.
Bellator’s championship rematch clause could prove itself to
be a worthy commodity, but it’s more likely that this is just further proof
that the promotion is realizing that the tournament format may not work for
much longer, and they’re preparing for that now instead of later. I hate to be
cliché, but only time will tell if this is a good or a bad thing.

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