It seems that Eddie Alvarez and Bellator MMA are finally ready to cut ties after almost two years of legal battles and strained relationships. It has been reported that he could be heading to the UFC in a debut fight against “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone at UFC 178.
So what’s the story behind Eddie and Bellator? As with most Bellator contracts, Eddie’s exclusivity period of negotiation ended after his Bellator 76 KO of Patricky Pitbull. The UFC immediately laid an offer on the table, which included pay-per-view revenue share, which is the biggest dispute in this entire matter.
Bellator have a clause in all their fighter contracts that they can counter the offer with a matching deal. For people who have less knowledge on legal procedures, this pretty much gives Bellator the upper hand when it comes to re-signing talent.
Now, the pay-per-view revenue was Eddie’s main argument when the case was taken to the legal system. It is well known that the UFC has a well established PPV format, however Bellator argued that these “PPV points” were merely hypothetical, and made the argument that they could easily put on a PPV of their own.
There is no doubt that, despite the influx of UFC fighters such as Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson to headline the PPV, the whole point of it was to appease Alvarez and keep him on board. The now former CEO Bjorn Rebney was playing hard ball with Alvarez. Although it seemed as if the Florida based fighter was being held ransom, it showed that the so called little guy, could battle the UFC, and in this case, even win.
Both parties would reach an agreement in the latter part of 2013, with Bellator announcing the highly anticipated rematch against Michael Chandler at Bellator 106, ON PAY-PER-VIEW. But after Ortiz pulled out of his fight with Rampage with an injury, the event moved to SpikeTV.
This is where the story takes a drastic change, as Alvarez beat Chandler by split decision to win the lightweight title. He was the champion, and he also had the argument that the company failed to deliver their PPV promise. The ball was in his court.
Even though the two sides had reached an agreement, Eddie was still outspoken about his disgruntlement with Rebney, but now as the world champion, that would be publicised even further.
What organisation would want a world champion that publicly slates them? I wouldn’t assume many.
In a second attempt at PPV, Eddie was set to defend his belt against Chandler in their rubber match at Bellator 122. The Silent Assassin would withdraw a week prior to the fight stating he had a concussion. In his place stood Will Brooks, who beat Chandler by split decision to become the interim champion.
This presented Bellator with a whole new set of problems. You’re world champion is “injured” and looking to jump ship, you’ve lost your marquee fight in Alvarez vs Chandler, and you have a relatively unknown fighter as interim champion. Many would argue this was the end of days for Rebney, and one of the believed major reasons he was let go by Viacom.
In the past few months, the rumours of Alvarez’s jump to the UFC have picked up steam. He was seated cage side for the Atlantic City event, but not many members of the media picked up on this.
Now, the UFC is teasing a huge co-main event for the already stacked UFC 178. The buzz has increased as Sherdog reported that the plans are for Alvarez to face Donald Cerrone, who is coming off a KO of Jim Miller.
Bellator held a fan expo in New York City on the 30th, some of the fighters present included: King Mo, Rampage Jackson, Michael Chandler, Will Brooks, but no Eddie Alvarez. It looks like his self-proclaimed ransom is over, and sources have reported that Bellator have come to terms with him, and his UFC move is imminent.