“Before (Coker’s hiring), Eddie definitely wanted to leave,” Alvarez rep Glenn Robinson today told MMAjunkie. “I don’t think that was a secret. After this, we’d have to sit down with him first.”
Robinson, who heads Authentic Sports Management, declined to go into specifics about Alvarez’s contractual status with the promotion, though it’s previously been reported the fighter inked a two-fight deal with the Viacom-owned property following a legal dispute. One of those fights was fulfilled when Alvarez won back the lightweight title from Michael Chandler this past fall at Bellator 106.
Bellator, however, already had made its plans clear to Alvarez and co. before the management switch that removed Bjorn Rebney and Tim Danaher as CEO and president, respectively, and installed former Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker as the promotion’s new president.
“What I can tell you is they told us they wanted him to still fight (Michael) Chandler, and they told us it would be sometime in October,” Robinson said. “Eddie wanted to fight Will Brooks – they said no. Then everything went radio silent, and then the shakeup.”
Alvarez (25-3 MMA, 9-1 BMMA), who lost the title to Chandler (12-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA) in 2011 before his win this past fall, was set for a rubber match with the ex-champ at this past month’s Bellator 120. But he suffered a concussion in training that led to Brooks (13-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) replacing him and then upsetting Chandler to win the promotion’s interim belt. Rebney previously indicated that Alvarez’s contract might force him to fight Chandler a third time regardless of Brooks’ win, but did not publicly commit to booking the rubber match.
Robinson said Alvarez is back to training, and while he hasn’t recently seen a doctor for a checkup, he “feels good.”
The lightweight champ earlier today tweeted a message of support to Rebney, with whom he repeatedly clashed behind doors and in public as the two grappled over his future with the promotion. This past year, the fighter completed his previous contract and received an offer from the UFC for a potential debut at UFC 159, but Bellator issued a matching bid that set off a court battle. Alvarez said he was a pawn in a power struggle between UFC parent Zuffa and Viacom and alleged that Bellator acted in bad faith during negotiations, which Rebney denied.
While Alvarez appears to have moved beyond his earlier feelings, Robinson said the champ is glad to see Coker take the reigns of Bellator.
“Eddie is happy about the shakeup,” Robinson said. “He wasn’t happy with the way things were being run. I don’t think that’s any secret, so Eddie was very happy to hear there’s been a change in management. Eddie respects Viacom very much, and he’s always told me that.”
“They had this entire system based on (the idea) that you earn your title shots,” Robinson later added. “And then they made two changes, which we call the ‘Alvarez change 1′ and the ‘Alvarez change 2.’ When they were trying to get Eddie the first time, they changed their rules to allow (title) rematches. And then when they have no reason for him to be fighting Michael Chandler now, they changed their rules to say they’re allowed to give any past tournament champion a rematch at any time.
“I don’t totally understand how that makes sense with the premise of Bellator, where titles are earned, not given. We weren’t very happy about that change.”
Now that Bellator reportedly is moving away from its tournament format and toward a traditional structure of booking individual fights, Alvarez’s options for future title challenges can expand. Prior to Rebney’s removal, he voiced a desire to fight Brooks.
Robinson’s meeting should determine whether or not that bout takes place. It could also determine whether Brooks is Alvarez’s final opponent in Bellator, or he remains as one of the best lightweights outside of the UFC.
Wherever the fighter’s path leads, Robinson is expecting smoother sailing from here on out.
“Everything we requested (from the former management team) down to the littlest thing was always a debate,” he said. “So we think this is the best for Bellator, and as far as whether he would stay with Bellator long-term or not, until we sit down with Scott, it’s really hard to say.”