When recently asked what was going on with Eddie Alvarez’s contract negotiations with the UFC and Bellator, Dana White responded that ‘things were going to get ugly.’ What exactly that meant, no one was sure. Now news has come out that Bellator matched the UFC’s offer … depending on your technical definition of what matching means. Bellaprez Bjorn Rebney:
“I will tell you point blank, no questions asked, we matched it dollar for dollar, term for term and section for section,” he said. “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.”
So what’s the problem? As usual with higher-end fighter contracts, the UFC offer included a significant amount of money via a cut of pay-per-view sales. Bellator’s identical offer did too, but that money probably seems a lot more theoretical considering BELLATOR HAS NEVER HELD A PPV NOR HAS ANY CURRENT PLANS TO DO SO.
It’s a sneaky bit of legal wrangling on Bellator’s part, one that will apparently take a lot of time and a lot of money burnt on the altar of lawyer fees to resolve. While the UFC’s offer clearly makes Eddie Alvarez a lot more money in reality, who knows what language was used in his matching clause. Just because this is a sneaky play that screws Alvarez over doesn’t mean it’s not perfectly legal.
What it isn’t likely to do is endear fan or fighter sentiment towards the company. Bellator is starting to gain a reputation for getting litigious fast and tripping up fighters who have fought for them. People may give them a pass on the Paul Daley situation because the guy is acting like an impetuous asshole, but Alvarez has been nothing but solid for the promotion over the past three and a half years. They may win this battle and force him back into their promotion, but will it be worth the message it sends to other fighters?