Bellator MMA has officially tendered a contract offer to its former lightweight champion, Eddie Alvarez (24-3 MMA, 8-1 BFC).
MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps
) today learned from multiple industry sources that Bellator executives have issued an offer to Alvarez to match the deal he recently received from the UFC. The move is an effort by Bellator to retain the rights to the star 155-pounder, whose contract with the promotion expired following an October win over Patricky "Pitbull" Freire but who remained in an exclusive matching period with the tournament-based organization.
The revelation comes on the heels of UFC President Dana White's recent statement that he expected negotiations with Alvarez to "get ugly." In perhaps a nod to White's prediction, requests for statements by the UFC, Bellator and Alvarez's management team at Authentic Sports Management were all declined.
An official announcement isn't expected to be made until a legal review of both contracts is complete. Multiple sources indicated Bellator's offer was made "in good faith" and appears on the surface to match the deal previously offered by the UFC. However, it does not appear Alvarez has yet accepted Bellator's contract offer and may be seeking clarification on contract language in each of the two deals. Chief among those concerns will likely be whether or not Alvarez has the right to sign with another promotion while still operating inside of Bellator's matching period.
Alvarez long has been considered one of the top lightweights not in the UFC. This past April, Alvarez avenged one of only three losses on his record when he stopped Shinya Aoki with punches in the first round. And in October, in what may or may not prove to be his final Bellator fight, he stopped Freire with a head-kick knockout late in the first round. Alvarez's resume also includes wins over current Bellator featherweight champ Pat Curran in the lone defense of his Bellator lightweight title, as well as Roger Huerta, Josh Neer and Joachim Hansen.
In 2012, the UFC was able to sign former Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard to a deal Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney claimed included a signing bonus and was worth a minimum of $700,000 for the American Top Team fighter's first UFC appearance. Many MMA pundits expected Alvarez to also migrate to the octagon with the assumption that Bellator, despite moving to Spike TV, would not be able to offer a financial package level with that of the UFC.
As Rebney explained, it would all come down to dollars and sense.
"It really becomes for us a mathematical analysis," Rebney said. "We know where we would want to be with Ed, we know what kind of a deal structure would work for Bellator and our partners at Spike TV, and we're just waiting.
"We'd like to keep him, but it will all boil down to the numbers."
For now, it appears those numbers suit Bellator just fine.
Bellator's first live event of 2013 takes place on Jan. 17 and features current lightweight champ Michael Chandler facing top contender Rick Hawn, as well as featherweight champ Pat Curran vs. Patricio "Pitbull" Freire. The event takes place at Bren Center in Irvine, Calif., and marks the company's first broadcast on its new broadcast home of Spike TV.