After UFC 155, UFC president Dana White hinted that Eddie Alvarez’s contractual situation was going to get ugly.
Just over a week later, we have a better idea what White meant. On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, the sport’s hottest free agent revealed that he and the company for which he’s fought for the past four years, Bellator, have entered litigation which could keep the lightweight contender out of action longer than he had planned.
“We went to settlement maybe a couple days ago,” Alvarez said. “We had a settlement meeting to where we were supposed to settle our differences and everything was supposed to get worked out. Long story short, I was sued 30 minutes after our settlement agreement was over.”
At the heart of the dispute is Bellator’s matching clause in Alvarez’s contract. After the final fight of Alvarez’s contract, Bellator first had a window of exclusivity in contract negotiation, then another period of time in which it could match any contract offers Alvarez received.
Here’s where Alvarez and Bellator’s opinions differ: Bellator believes they’ve matched the deal Alvarez received from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Alvarez and his team disagree.
“We don’t believe it was matched at all,” Alvarez said. “I want to be able to give the details to you guys, but I’m not allowed because we’re in the middle of a pending lawsuit. What I can say is what I said on Twitter the other day. If I wanted to go to dinner with one guy who asked me to dinner, and another guy asks me to do dinner, and the intentions of guy number one is to take me into a fine dining restaurant and to eat lobster, and the intention of the second guy is to maybe take me to McDonald’s, guy number two just believes that dinner is dinner. Dinner isn’t dinner, there’s a huge difference when you’re talking McDonald’s or some fine dining, the two we don’t believe are comparable.”
While being vague on the details due to the nature of the pending litigation, the Philadelphia native has made it clear the contractual process has left him frustrated.
“There’s two completely different sides to this,” the former Bellator champion said. “Over the past year, there’s two different sides. I thought, where I grew up and where I’m from, when someone smiles at you and tells you something, you believe it. If someone lies to you, if someone’s a man of their word, that’s that. It’s very simple. That’s the reality of where I’ve been and where I’m from. But this is a different ballgame, man. I’d get eaten alive in this world, because what people say means nothing. It means nothing. Being loyal and them sort of things, that kind of goes out the window.”
That said, in spite of what’s gone down, Alvarez said he’d have no problem returning to Bellator, so long as he and the company comes to what he considers a fair settlement.
“If it was a match, I would be more than happy to honor the contract,” Alvarez said. “I signed that contract, I have to fulfill my obligations, it’s what I signed, I’m a man. I have no problems. If it was a match, if this was a hundred percent match, I’d have no problem going and fighting for Bellator. That is not my issue. Do I want to fight the best in the world? Yeah. Would I love to fight the Ben Hendersons? Yeah. The Gilbert Melendezes? Yeah. I’ll fight them tomorrow.
“I’ve always wanted to fight the best guys. That’s not the issue. The issue has to do with being fair. If the contract said at the end we have a chance to match this contract, I said OK to that four years ago and I’m accountable for that. In our eyes, this is not a match. This a difference is a lot of money, a lot of money, and its hard to sign on the dotted line. It’s a lot of money.”
Until then, Alvarez realizes there are bigger forces at play and the situation is out of his control. So he has no choice but to let events play out.
“It’s up to the courts now, man,” he said. “I’m being sued, it’s going to go before a judge. I think it’s going to be very clear what’s going on. UFC has nothing to say, you know? They’re a business, they offered me what they offered me. We feel the UFC’s deal is much greater. I like that deal. It wasn’t a Hector Lombard deal, but it was a good deal. And given the opportunity that you have, I consider it a good deal, and I consider it a much better deal than the one that Bellator’s offering.”
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