Eddie Alvarez is having the biggest fight of his career and he can’t even throw a punch at his opponent. I was in attendance for Eddie’s most recent fight, the highly publicized potential last Bellator fight for Alvarez, at Bellator 76 in Windsor, Ontario. Since then, the tension between Alvarez and Bellator has become one of the hottest news stories in the sport, and promises to provide drama throughout 2013.
At the post-fight press conference of Bellator 76 it seemed as though the process of re-signing Alvarez would be difficult and would likely result with Alvarez signing with the UFC. Like Lombard before him, many were sure the offer extended to Alvarez would no doubt be one he couldn’t refuse. Although the offer Alvarez eventually received was good, it was no where near what Lombard received and this is where the problems begin.
A tactic which has been used in team sports for years known as the restricted free agent (RFA) is the type of contract Bellator has with Alvarez. An RFA contract gives Bellator the chance to match any offer from another organization which, in this instance, is the UFC. In Bellator and Bjorn Rebney’s mind, they matched the deal. To Alvarez and his representatives they have not, which has led to lawsuits from both parties.
In looking over the details reported by Sports Illustrated, both sides have their issues and both believe they are in the right. I am not going to say whose arguments is better, that is for the courts to decide. What I will say is that neither side wanted this to happen.
This is by far the worse case scenario for all parties involved. For Bellator, they lose their top star for now and possibly forever all while getting major backlash from MMA fans and media who are claiming to boycott the promotions fights on Spike TV. For Alvarez, he could potentially sit on the shelf for a year sorting this mess out, wasting away what is the prime of his career. Even if he goes to the UFC, he can’t turn back time.
If he goes back to Bellator, despite all insurances from Alvarez himself that he would fight for the organization again, I can’t imagine his fights being as entertaining or his relationship with Bjorn/Bellator to be a positive one. The UFC is only party mixed up in this that will be okay. First off, they don’t have to be spend any money or time being in court and second, they already have 99% of the best fighters in the world so not getting the services of Eddie Alvarez won’t be that damaging.
I am hopeful a deal will be reached in the near future but that is unlikely. Nobody will come out of this thing looking good. Never leave it in the hands of the judges is a popular phrase in mixed martial arts, and it looks as though the same could be said for outside of the cage. Blame or be mad at whoever you want but the fact is, Eddie Alvarez won’t be fighting anytime soon.