Ugly: The Eddie Alvarez Contract Dispute Took A Turn For the Worse

By Adam Martin Subscribe to Articles by Adam Martin

The Eddie Alvarez contract situation can best be described in one simple word: ugly.

It’s the exact same word that UFC president Dana White uttered recently when he was asked what the status of the free agent Alvarez was, in terms of potentially signing with the UFC,

and it’s the same word that described the picture that the former Bellator lightweight champion painted yesterday when he made an appearance on journalist Ariel Helwani’s web show, The MMA Hour.

According to Alvarez, the UFC offered him a contract that was matched by Bellator, but it’s a contract that Alvarez, his management, and legal team don’t believe Bellator can match. Although Alvarez didn’t admit it in these exact words, it was obvious the lack of pay-per-view points is the sticking point he kept hinting at. Alvarez also revealed that there’s a multitude of lawyers involved now and that Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, who has often called Alvarez a friend in the past, has sued him.

Any way you cut it, Alvarez can’t fight right now, at least not until this matter is resolved – which could take days or months, depending on the legal proceedings – even though the 28-year old is one of the very best 155-pound fighters on the planet, and even though he’s in his fighting prime and wants to fight.

Rebney was later interviewed by top journalist Mike Chiappetta of MMAFighting.com and explained his viewpoint. He revealed that the UFC offered Alvarez a contract that would pay him a $250,000 signing bonus, plus $75,000 to show and $75,000 to win for each fight, of which the contract was for eight, or 40 months, whichever expired first. In addition, the UFC offered Alvarez a pay-per-view points bonus, although exactly what percentage of the PPV he would get wasn’t revealed.

And here’s where the problem lies.

Bellator matched the deal, even though they currently do not have PPVs, because in Rebney’s mind, the PPV points aren’t guaranteed income. In his opinion, Bellator matched all of the guaranteed money in the deal – the signing bonus and guaranteeing the same exact show/win money – and since PPV points are just projections, technically he can match them just by saying that Bellator ‘could’ go the PPV route in the future. Rebney said although he was under no obligation to match the PPV points clause, he decided to anyways out of good faith to Alvarez, with the off chance that Bellator does in fact hold a PPV at some point in the future.

Technically, Rebney – who is a trained lawyer, by the way – may be able to match the contract. But it doesn’t make what he’s doing right.

The fact of the matter is Bellator isn’t going to have a PPV anytime soon, while the UFC is a proven PPV commodity. Even if Alvarez’ cut from a PPV was one single dollar, when you multiply that by 250,000 buys – about average or even below average for a UFC event – that’s like a second signing bonus. That’s why Alvarez wants to go to the UFC, because of those PPV points, not because he wants to fight the top fighters in the world, although that’s the best part, aside from the money.

Sure, he wants to prove he’s one of the best by fighting the top lightweights in the UFC, but even if he’s fighting in Bellator we’ll all still know he’s one of the best. If Bellator gives Alvarez the PPV points, or at least money to make up for that projected revenue, you can be sure that Alvarez would be a happy camper, even if he’s stuck fighting Michael Chandler five more times over the course of his new deal.

Remember, Alvarez is the guy who said, “Show me the money!” after his TKO of Shinya Aoki. He just wants to get paid, and whether it’s the UFC or Bellator, Alvarez just wants his money.

But he might have to sit and wait for it, because it’s clear from today’s events that this is going to be ugly. At this point, it’s not even White and the UFC’s problem, it’s a dispute between Alvarez and Bellator. The UFC clearly wants to sign him, but they can’t, and they’re kind of in the shadows right now while Alvarez and Bellator’s legal teams duke it out.

Had Alvarez waited out a year, he could have had the matching rights in his former Bellator contract terminated. But he and his management team took the risk of taking an offer from the UFC with the sense that Bellator wouldn’t match it – even while knowing what they have done to Roger Hollett, Tyson Nam, and Jonathan Brookins in the recent past – and because they did, this whole thing has turned into a mess.

Things are ugly now, but they’ll be getting even uglier in the coming weeks, and this definitely wasn’t what Bellator needed with their debut on Spike TV coming up next week, but it’s the bed they’ve made, and we’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.

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