Lightweight Eddie Alvarez is currently the hottest free agent in MMA, with Bellator hoping to retain his services and Zuffa attempting to bring him into the fold with the UFC. So why would the former play so fair?
You've gotta hand it to Bjorn Rebney, he's a fair man.
When Hector Lombard's contract came up with Bellator, Rebney made it known he would attempt to re-sign the middleweight mauler but he understood that the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) might swoop in and pay more than his promotion could. And if that would happen, then so be it and he wished "Lightning" all the best.
As it turned out, that's exactly what happened, though Lombard lost badly in his debut inside the Octagon in one of the most disappointing performances of the past year.
Now, Eddie Alvarez is the latest fighter with elite potential coming out of the Bellator ranks who is being heavily courted by all sides. When Alvarez knocked out Patricky Freire on Oct. 12 to satisfy the final fight on his contract, UFC President Dana White quickly tweeted that he wanted to talk.
Under the terms of the deal, however, that would have to wait for 90 days. Unless, of course, Bellator chooses to waive the 90-day exclusive negotiating period, which is exactly what Rebney is going to do because, again, he's a fair man.
He explained in an interview with MMAFighting.com:
"It's an interesting spot. We've talked about the dynamics for months about him staying or leaving. We don't make decisions based off emotions. We do our analysis and try to determine if it fits in our model. Eddie can say, 'I'm going to go see what they offer,' and if he does, there's no reason to dance. If he wants to look at what they're offering -- and I don't think that's unreasonable, by the way -- I'll open the door sooner than we're required. I'm not saying we won't come to an agreement, but even though we're having some good talks, that's what it might come down to. ... "My read on Ed is that he's approached these talks professionally and totally in good faith. He's made the effort to come sit and talk to us. He's followed up and asked a lot of questions as far as what we can do for him, the exposure we can provide and what other doors we can open. He's been very engaged. Ed's been rock-solid for us for years, and if he wants to see what they are going to offer, I'm going to let him see."
He would also note that it should be only a matter of days until an announcement comes on Alvarez's future. If he accepts the offer Bellator has put out for him, the announcement will be that he's returning to the promotion. If not, it will be that the exclusive negotiating period is cut short and the UFC will be able to swoop in and make its play for him.
It's only a matter of time until we know where Alvarez is headed. Where do you think he'll go, Maniacs? And where should he go?
Bellator or UFC?