Eddie Alvarez: Hear Him Roar

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Over the past few days, former Bellator Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez took to Twitter (@Ealvarezfight) to vent his rage at his ongoing situation as his contract dispute with the promotion rolls on.

We’re not going to repost every tweet, rather condense the general themes and discuss what’s been said, what it means for Eddie and Bellator. Here is the thrust of what Eddie said…

1. Bellator have a track record for low balling fighters.

Eddie says he has been compelled by his enforced spell on the sidelines to cash in his retirement investment to keep feeding his family. He goes on to say that he’s alright as he had that safety net, due to being a headliner but then draws attention to mention less illustrious Bellator fighters who’ve allegedly been compelled to accept lower pay days than expected and/or stay inactive when not booked (a problem with Belator’s tournament format that we’ve highlighted before) naming former Bantamweight champion Zak Makovsky and Cosmo Alexandre (who went on to retweet Alvarez’ comments.)

Reaction – We’re not wholly surprised by this, especially given Bellator’s recent efforts to strong arm Tyson Nam into a contract when he had the temerity to beat their new Bantamweight champion in another promotion. Then there is also the case of undefeated Heavyweight champion Cole Konrad who chose to retire from MMA and work a full time day job as the pay was better.

The Bellator model, while credible and uniquely marketable does require fighters to compete in a short space of time OR with huge gaps between fights. There is almost no happy medium, and combined with the lack of a pay per view option it does constrict Bellator’s pay scale and makes the things they ask of their fighters somewhat… inconsistent.

Throw a tendency to get heavy handed and litigious into the mix…

2. He blames Viacom, not Bjorn Rebney

Alvarez asserts that Rebeny is ‘just a grunt’ in this issue and that the corporate nastiness stems from the ‘higher ups’ in the SPIKE TV and Viacom family.

Reaction – He’s probably right. Despite his preeminence at Bellator, Rebney now has far more powerful masters, more involved in the power of the brand and their investment than anything to do with specific fighter relations.

It’s entirely possible that Rebney would have moved heaven & earth to keep such a long term favourite but the money men above him decided on a suitable amount and resolved that if Alvarez chose to jump, then they would crush him the American way – with lawyers.

In a battle between a company like Viacom and one guy, there is only going to be one winner.

3. He’s really, really steamed, and saying some unwise stuff.

Alvarez has variously stated that himself and Sugar Ray Leonard have something in common – being f@#ked by Bjorn Rebney, that there are unsanctioned cash fights in Miami that he might take part in ‘to stay sharp’ and that he’s been told he can say what he wants as long as its the truth.

Reaction – First, didn’t he says its not so much about Bjorn? Inconsistency is not your friend in such a battle of perception.

Next, any reference to unlicensed fights as an option is injurious to the sport as a whole and to Alvarez’ own credibility as a professional sportsman, witness in a court case and family man. Apart from anything else, if he’s so confident in his new camp (having joined the Jaco Hybrid Training Centre, better known as the Blackzillians) then beating up on street fighters shouldn’t do much for his sharpness…

Lastly, while its true that he SHOULD be fine so long as he doesn’t say anything untrue, the concept of truth in a court setting is open to interpretation. Several of his comments have been (to my untutored eye) both personally defamatory and corporately litigious and while his ire at being denied his ‘million dollar payday’ and desire to tell his side of the story are both fair enough… it doesn’t strike me as the most sensible course of action.

Summation –

Without knowing the full ins and outs of the contract situation and court case (I’m no lawyer) we’ve been on Eddie’s side since the beginning.

Even with the matching period and Bellator’s supposedly equal offer to the UFC, we can’t see how they could possibly be offering a comparable deal as they would need to move to pay per view, which is not currently part of the company’s business model and also break their tournament format for title shots – in order to do so.

It strikes us that this is self evident, but that with Bellator on Spike TV now, those in control have decided that they’ll try to stop the steady bleed of top level talent to the UFC.

However, being unable to offer a matching deal they decided to claim to do so to drag Alvarez through the courts – a route where a big company will always have more stamina than one man, who is in the meantime unable to work – hoping that he will concede and resign with the company (which they could spin as proving they were on the UFC’s level) or that the length of the court case will damage his profile so much that he’s not as valuable to the UFC and the perception is that Bellator are not so second rate.

Cynical as all hell. These ideas have been discussed elsewhereand in greater depth, but for the moment it’s all in the air.

Bottom line, we’re on Eddie’s side but feel that his little outburst can’t have helped his case. Still, we’ll be tuning in to MMAFighting.com on Monday to see what he’s got to say to Ariel Helwani…

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