When UFC President Dana White was asked about Bellator’s business practices over the weekend he took the opportunity to blast the organization, labeling their approach to signing fighters as “borderline criminal” among other unsavory things. White’s anger related specifically to a situation involving bantamweight Tyson Nam who was pursued by the UFC but unable to sign based on a pre-existing deal with Bellator. Frustrating White, Nam had been released by the company but was held up by a “right to match” clause tying him up for the next year.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney caught wind of White’s comments and didn’t dispute the allegations as far as his promotion possessing the ability to match outside offers even if a competitor has been cut. In fact, he figured White would be familiar with the practice considering Zuffa invoked it during negotiations with former Strikeforce champion Muhammed Lawal.
“It’s a very, very hypocritical statement,” said Rebney on The MMA Hour of White’s rant on Bellator’s behavior. “We had to go through the exact same process with Zuffa when we signed ‘King Mo.’”
“Zuffa released ‘King Mo’ Lawal on March 27, 2012. They went public with their release, they put it up on their own website, on UFC.com, Dana confirmed the release of ‘King Mo’ to the media on the exact same day, and then in April, when Bellator looked to sign ‘King Mo,’ we had to submit our full contract to Zuffa,” elaborated Rebney. “We sent it certified mail to their attorneys. Then we had to wait 14 full business days, which is typically 20-to-21 days in total, for them to decide if they were going to match or not going to match — which thankfully they didn’t, and we ended up with one of the most exciting and entertaining light heavyweights in the world — but, this is, to the letter, the exact same process.”
Making sure to keep things as professional as possible, Rebney wrapped things up by sugarcoating his final bit of criticism.
“It’s one thing to call somebody out on doing something. But when you follow the exact same process, the veracity of the comments have to be taken in context with what the real world dictates,” he concluded.
Though the relationship between the UFC and Bellator has always been one of relative respect, given the latest developments it appears things could be changing come 2013, especially with Bellator heading to Spike TV in January.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC