Bellator CEO: Eddie Alvarez Free to Talk with UFC, But No Update Yet



With 2012 coming to a close, Bellator is quickly approaching its debut on Spike TV.

CEO Bjorn Rebney recently joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Cheap Seats” show to discuss the move, whether Eddie Alvarez will be part of it and much more.

On what to expect from Bellator on Spike: “We’ve got an incredible production team, great editors, great creative directors and we’re just building out new stuff that’s going to give the Spike show real stickiness and real entertainment value. It’s going to create great shows. … We’re working really, really hard to put it all together and man, it’s shocking to me that we’re talking about just a couple of months. A couple of months, and we’re going to be launching on Spike.”

On Bellator’s reality show: “The guy producing it and his team are awesome. They do ‘The Amazing Race’ and they know how to tell stories and they know how to make the characters seem real instead of your typical reality let’s-see-who-can-throw-the-most-dishes-at-the-glass-window-and-scream-the-loudest. Late January, early February, we’ll probably start the production elements. We’ve been scouting locations. We’ve got two really good alternatives location-wise. ... We’ve got some really, really great fighters on the show. That’s the whole fuel to the machine. That’s what makes the whole machine, the whole show go. It will be very competitive.”

On Bellator signing Dan McGuane and then removing him from Bellator 81 when it was revealed that he had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter: “I think as a company we’ve got between 160 and 170 fighters under contract. We’re doing a lot of non-long-term deals with undercard fighters to be on shows, and you try to do your due diligence. You do the Google searches and we’ve got a team here legally that does background checks, and it didn’t come up when we first did it. Then it was brought to our attention, and immediately when it was brought to our attention, we were pointed to the right places. You just make a decision, and that decision [to pull McGuane] was a really easy one to make.”

On signing War Machine (Jon Koppenhaver), who has also had legal troubles: “I signed Jon when we were first coming out on ESPN Deportes in 2009. You’re talking about four years ago. And Jon would be the first to admit it: Jon said some very dumb things publicly, and we cut him because we just didn’t feel like we wanted to be associated with those kind of comments and that kind of mentality. Then he floated around for a while. He had a lot of different fights. He had a lot of different things go on with his life, and then we started to re-engage with him about a year ago, and that re-engagement was me talking to Jon and talking to Jon’s management and trying to figure out is his head on right? Is he focused in the right direction?

“Look, Jon’s never going to be Opie from ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’ He’s not that guy. He’s an emotional guy who says what’s on his mind, and often times what he says is not the smartest thing in the world, it offends people, et cetera. But at the core, he’s a talented fighter. He’s a very aggressive, talented fighter when he’s on his game. We talked to him a number of times. We said, ‘OK, we’ll give you another chance, but that chance comes with strings attached,’ and then what happened is, Jon got reincarcerated based on something he had done before we gave him that other chance. It wasn’t as if we said, ‘Jon, don’t mess up again,’ and then he messed up again. Jon was staying home, not going to clubs, not drinking, training like a wild dog, occasionally Tweeting out stupid things, but not ridiculously over-the-top things and then he got reincarcerated for something that happened a year ago. …

“He did the time he was required to do, and if you look into the situation, it sure didn’t seem like time that he should have done on top of what he had already done. We invited him back in, and now he’s in training and getting ready to try to accomplish what he can accomplish in the upcoming 170-pound tournament.”

On whether Eddie Alvarez will re-sign with Bellator: “For us it comes down to a business decision. I love Ed and I think he’s one of the most exciting lightweights in all of MMA. I love watching him fight, and it’s been awesome having him in Bellator. Will we keep him? I don’t know. I’m talking to Ed regularly. I cut the [90-day matching period] down. We only spent about 10 of the 90 days, and Ed just said to me, he goes, ‘Dude, I want to talk to the UFC,’ and I said, ‘Great, so I’ll just cut this time short. Go talk to them.’ He’s had free reign to talk to them now for about two and a half weeks. We haven’t seen a contract yet, so I don’t know. It’s a tough one to handicap. I really don’t know.”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:02:03).

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