Bellator MMA announced today that Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler 1 and 2 will be airing on Spike TV on Saturday September 27th at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. Does that time slot sound familiar? That’s the same time that Eddie Alvarez will make his debut fight in UFC 178 against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Is showing Eddie Alvarez’s best fights in Bellator MMA just a way to compete with the UFC’s ratings? What other possible reasons would motivate Bellator to show the promotion’s former lightweight fighter’s best fights?
News about Alvarez’s release from Bellator hit the press circuit just over a month ago. Do you remember the specific terms he left on? Unfortunately, good business relations, mutual respect, and bridges left intact don’t get much attention. Bellator president Scott Coker stated:
“We’ve granted Eddie his unconditional release. Eddie is free to explore the free agent market, we hold no matching rights, and we wish him the best in the future. We sat down with Eddie and his team a few times, and it became pretty clear early on that he just wasn’t interested in fighting for Bellator in the future. We want guys in this organization that want to be here, and after the history Eddie and the former regime had here at Bellator, we decided to move on. We wish Eddie the absolute best of luck with whatever is next for him. It’s a new chapter for everyone involved.”
No bad blood, no hurled accusations, just respect between an organization and it’s former fighter. Why does any of that matter? Think about what the alternative could have been on Bellator’s part. Scott Coker could have tried to fight tooth and nail to keep Alvarez in Belltoar MMA but that’s not Coker’s style. In almost ‘direct’ contrast to former Bellator CEO, Bjorn Rebney’s approach to the situation, Scott Coker offered an olive branch to the determined fighter.
Rather than have each party make a point to burn one another with insults and accusations, Coker’s sound reasoning brought about an opportunity for Alvarez to show his skills in the UFC. And the fact that Bellator is airing Alvarez’s best fights in the promotion is just reinforcing their confidence in his talent. Bellator likely had every reason to see Alvarez succeed in the UFC. The point being, the best talent doesn’t just come from the UFC, they also come from other promotions. Showing Eddie’s best fights at the same time as his UFC debut is one of the greatest ways for Bellator to demonstrate its support for one of the organization’s most talented fighters.