Bjorn Rebney gives his side of story regarding Eddie Alvarez’s contract

Eddie AlvarezThe business side of Mixed Martial Arts reared its ugly head this week when lightweight Eddie Alvarez came forward to reveal he’d been sued by Bellator after a four-year relationship with the promotion. According to Alvarez, who is a restricted free agent, Bellator failed to match an offer he received from the UFC, equating the counter as McDonalds in comparison to a lobster dinner.

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has since stepped forward to clarify his company’s stance, explaining that the point of contention appears to involve money potentially generated by PPV rather than base salary.

“I will tell you point blank, no questions asked, we matched it dollar for dollar, term for term and section for section. 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, (and) we didn’t alter a dollar figure,” revealed Rebney in a conversation with The MMA Hour. “There is no guaranteed pay-per-view in the UFC offer to Eddie Alvarez. 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.”

Specifically, the 24-3 Alvarez is said to be in line for a $250,000 signing bonus along with a $70,000 show/$70,000 win deal for each fight. Additionally, those figures are also open to change based on performance. And, in Rebney’s eyes, the contract is reasonable enough to merit bringing Alvarez back to Bellator so long as both parties can work past the PPV hump.

“We have a quarter-of-a-million dollar check sitting and waiting to be sent to Ed and are ready to be scheduling bouts immediately,” concluded Rebney, expressing hope that his lengthy friendship with Alvarez will allow the sides to hammer the matter out without an extended battle in court.

PHOTO CREDIT – BELLATOR/DREAM

8 COMMENTS
  • Angry Mike says:

    Either the offers are identical, or they’re not. If the UFC contract outlines “the possibility” of income from PPV’s, Bellator has to match that, too. That will be difficult since Bellator doesn’t have PPV’s. Bellator would have to address that, though, or the offers aren’t equal.

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  • moosebaby02 says:

    And all the dressing room handshakes as well Mike. I feel bad for Eddie cause Bellator can match word for word but not the overall potential payoff that comes with the UFC

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  • hindsightufuk says:

    but isnt it still Eddies choice? i mean if Bellator have a clause saying they can match any contract offer, and they then match exactly UFC’s contract, does that mean Eddie has no choice but to resign with Bellator? can he not just choose which of the two he wants to be with?

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  • qat says:

    Nope he cant, if Bellator matches, he has to sign with Bellator.
    I believe thats a system commonly used in america, like in the NBA as well, or am i wrong there? Even though i think in team sports it does make some sense if you try to spread the best talents all around the league. In MMA i dont wanna see it.

    Either way here in Europe they scrapped stuff like this a long time ago, i think since the mid-90s professional athletes are legally considered normal employees.

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  • Richard Stabone says:

    Yep, very similar to the NBA where a player can test the open market to fetch the max offer for his services, but the contract he signed with his current team includes a match clause that allows them to retain his services if they choose to match the offer. If this weren’t the case the match clause would have no teeth and would be essentially useless. But the way it works, I think it provides a nice balance of allowing the athlete to seek out max $$ on the open market, while also providing some protection to the team or organization that drafted/developed/invested in the athlete.
     
    As I mentioned in a comment under the other article, all the UFC had to do was flex its financial muscles and blow Bellator out of the water with an offer they wouldn’t be able to feasibly match (just as they did with Lombard). I wish this would have happened because it would have meant that a) the fighter was getting paid* and b) Alvarez would be coming over to the UFC to face the top competition which I think we’d all like to see.
     
    *BTW, anybody see Bendo’s twitter rant about how pissed off he is that Eddie’s offer from the UFC represents significantly more $$ than the UFC has been paying him as champion? Nice to see some of this stuff come to light.
     
    But anyway, the UFC came in a bit low with their offer, allowing room for Bellator to exercise its contractual right to match, and now Eddie is stuck in the middle and facing a lawsuit & tough uphill battle by refusing to sign with Bellator. Business deals aint always pretty, but the constant reality is you need to be aware of what you’re signing up for when you sign a contract. This is what agents & lawyers are for and why they get paid the big bucks. Unfortunately for Eddie, sounds like he’s now trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube and I don’t think he’s going to have much success facing this pending lawsuit.

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  • Richard Stabone says:

    One important distinction to make between the NBA and MMA – with the NBA the rules surrounding the “match clause” are baked into the collective bargaining agreement so a player has no choice but to go along with it. In Eddie’s case, he was under no obligation to sign a deal that included the Bellator match clause; it was simply part of the negotiation and something that Bellator has wisely included in some of their contracts with their top fighters who they’ve invested the most in.

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  • G-DUB says:

    Richard … thanks for the explanation. The only question I have that remains unanswered is whether the UFC can now come back with a better offer (that Bellator will once again have the opportunity to match). In the NBA, if a team matches another team’s offer, the player stays with his original team. There is no second chance to make a better offer. I don’t know if this negotiation is similar.

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  • Richard Stabone says:

    “The only question I have that remains unanswered is whether the UFC can now come back with a better offer (that Bellator will once again have the opportunity to match).”

    Yeah, I wondered about that too. But I’ve gotta think once the UFC submitted its official offer to Eddie the negotiating window closed. If the negotiations were allowed to be more open-ended, it would incentivize the UFC to come in low, and gradually raise the bar until Bellator eventually bowed out, and just wouldn’t be good faith negotiating.

    If they had it to do over again the UFC would probably jack up their offer to get Bellator out of their (and Eddie’s) way. But maybe not. Because these details inevitably leak, and once the current champ realizes the UFC is offering twice the guaranteed base pay to a newcomer, it starts to ruffle some feathers. And this type of thing will only complicate contract situations & overall negotiations between UFC and fighters, which Dana & Co. certainly don’t want. They’ve got a helluva thing going for them right now, where fighters get paid relatively little compared to the revenue coming in… and then the UFC has discretion over how much of the rest of the pie they dole out, to whom, and under their own arbitrary guidelines that ultimately serves the UFC’s best interest.

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