By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
UFC President Dana White predicted recently that the Eddie Alvarez situation with Bellator was going to get ugly, and things are beginning to come to a head this week.
Alvarez aired his grievances with Bellator during an interview on Monday with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, stating that Bellator had not matched the UFC's offer as they claimed and stating that there are now lawsuits involved. Alvarez wouldn't go into details on the contract offers, but said he and his camp believed there was a significant difference in money between the two offers.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney responded to Alvarez's comments on Monday afternoon, and expectedly expressed his disagreement with Alvarez's perception of the deals.
"I will tell you point blank, no questions asked, we matched it dollar for dollar, term for term and section for section," Rebney said in an interview with MMAFighting.com. "To avoid any kind of ambiguity, let me make clear, we took the UFC contract, we took it out of the PDF format, we changed the name 'UFC' to 'Bellator' and we signed it. We didn't alter a word, we didn't alter a phrase, we didn't alter a section, we didn't alter a dollar figure."
Rebney said Alvarez's offer from the UFC included a $250,000 signing bonus, $70,000 to win and $70,000 to show for his first fight, with rising figures in each subsequent fight in an eight fight, 40-month deal. One point of contention is the potential for pay-per-view money in the UFC, but Rebney contends that was not guaranteed by the UFC offer, and not something Bellator had to match in order to keep Alvarez.
"There is no guaranteed pay-per-view in the UFC offer to Eddie Alvarez," Rebney said. "We as Bellator don't have to match projections. We don't have to match what could conceptually happen. We have to match guaranteed dollars and what the UFC contractually guaranteed would occur. That is what we are held to."
Alvarez has a signing bonus check waiting for him from Bellator, Rebney said, but he's not sure just how long this process could take.
"Ed and I have four years of a good working relationship and about 30 days of not a good relationship," he said. "When you weigh those factors out, there's a very high likelihood we could shake hands and get past it with a fair amount of ease. Ed's in business and as you can see from the numbers, it can be a very lucrative business. I know I can shove off and move forward, put things back in line in short order. I hope Ed can do the same. It may be a long, drawn out fight between the two or something that can be settled relatively quickly. We'll see."
Penick's Analysis: There's a lot to digest here, and this is far from a cut and dry situation. They key issue seems to be Alvarez's potential for pay-per-view revenue, something that Bellator can't contend with as they don't run pay-per-view events. But if there's no guarantee of that revenue from the UFC, and Bellator doesn't have to match projections, then they've got a legal leg-up. On that same token, though, the fact that there isn't even an option for that revenue in Bellator, given they didn't change a word, then having it included in a Bellator deal is not the same contract. They may not have to match projections for their deal to be a technical "match," but that money not being on the table for Alvarez in Bellator is a very real issue and reason for him to be upset. Rebney and Bellator are going with what Alvarez said they characterized as "wiggle room" on the UFC offer, and though that may be in their right to do, they're still making it so Alvarez does not have the option to get that extra revenue. At its heart, they're not matching the deal, but from a technicality standpoint, they may be able to get away with saying they are.
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