Former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez has spent nearly a year of his prime on the sidelines, engaging in a public feud with his employer over the terms of his contract. Now, with Bellator set to make its Pay-Per-View debut, Alvarez has withdrawn his court case against the promotion in order to participate in an anticipated rematch against current lightweight champion Michael Chandler.
The legal saga began when Alvarez signed an eight-fight deal with the UFC after his Bellator contract expired, which included a $250,000 signing bonus, and guaranteed Pay-Per View “points” (escalating financial incentives) that he would earn based on buy-rate performance. Bellator had a matching clause written into his initial contract with the promotion, similar to “restricted free-agency” in other American sports. Regardless of the offer the UFC provided, Bellator had the opportunity to retain his services if they matched the terms of his contract.
Herein lies the problem. How could Bellator, an organization that did not previously have a Pay-Per-View presence, match this portion of the UFC’s offer? Such a dispute was bound to land in court sooner or later, but it’s unfortunate that a fighter of Alvarez’s caliber was the one left in legal limbo.
Alvarez and the UFC did not believe Bellator had truly matched the terms of the offer, but the Viacom-owned promotion was more than willing to drag out the process through the courts. Until the issue was resolved, there would be no competing for Alvarez in either promotion, and his active career would come to a grinding halt. With the pre-trial scheduled for September of 2014, he had two options. He could continue to stick to his guns, or he could bite the bullet and make a disgruntled return to his promotion. It takes tremendous resources to battle against media-giant Viacom, and Alvarez made the decision that made sense for him financially and for his career.
He may not have the UFC debut he desired, but Alvarez has before him the opportunity to avenge the most high-profile loss of his career, and take part in a co-main event rematch sure to be the most anticipated in promotional history.