While the rift between Bellator MMA and Eddie Alvarez has been well-documented, the former lightweight champ recently threw a few more coals in the fire by claiming the promotion has also wronged prospect Cosmo Alexandre (5-1 MMA, 5-1 BFC) and former bantamweight champ Zach Makovsky (14-4 MMA, 6-2 BFC). Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney insists both of those claims are untrue.
Alvarez made waves with a series of tweets one week ago, where he openly expressed his disdain for Bellator’s handling of fighter contracts. But while his personal disputes have long been publicly discussed, Alvarez brought up a few other names as well.
“I am fortunate compared to guys like @CosmoAlexandre this guy trains day and night to feed his Fam N Viacom/ spike continue to hurt him,” Alvarez wrote on Twitter. [email protected] his story of getting shafted might be worse than mine.
“Not to mentioning how @ZachFunSize WAs bullied to take a smaller pay day than contextually agreed or just sit.after being champ.”
That same day, Alexandre, who like Alvarez is represented by Florida’s Authentic Sports Management, also tweeted with claims of financial despair.
“#nomoneyteam Baby !!,” Alexandre wrote. “I just put what I had in my pocket . $4,00 gas .. #thankyoubjorn #Bellator.”
Rebney said he was shocked Alexandre would complain, especially after fighting six times in a span of just 13 months between October 2011 and November 2012 and turning down two different opportunities to fight in one of Bellator’s $100,000 tournaments.
“Cosmo Alexandre was offered a spot in the 155-pound tournament in Season 8, after his sixth fight with us, which he turned down because he said he could not make lightweight anymore,” Rebney told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “And then four days later he was offered a spot in our 170-pound tournament – a spot that we didn’t have to offer him since his contract says he fights as a lightweight – which he also turned down. And remember, these are $100,000 tournaments where the first purse is $10,000 plus $10,000. And he was also offered a spot in our upcoming Season 9 170-pound tournament, which he has not gotten back to us on yet.
“To have someone who happens to be a teammate of Ed’s put out a tweet like he did after the kid has fought six times – six times – in 18 months, an average of one fight every three months, is just wrong. And for Ed to imply that somehow we weren’t treating him correctly or we weren’t doing the right things for this kid? How many mixed-martial-artists do you know that fight six times in 18 months? Not many. And it’s right there. It’s on the websites. There’s nothing about this that is opinion. He’s fought six times in 18 months.”
Alexandre, a former kickboxing world champion, debuted for the promotion in October 2011. According to Rebney, his promotional agreement called for six “developmental bouts” before he was to be offered a tournament slot. With those first six bouts complete as of this past November, Alexandre has since sat idle. But Rebney said his promotion has made every reasonable effort to keep the striker busy and is shocked at Alexandre’s response.
“Look, if a fighter is offered one fight a year, I totally get it,” Rebney said. “Tweet until your fingers pop off about how you need to make money and how people aren’t treating you right. I understand that. That makes sense, and if we ever did that to a fighter, I would immediately own up to it and say, ‘Man, we’ve got to get that kid money. That’s wrong. We’ve got to get him a fight.
“I’ve gotten text messages and phone calls from 30 other fighters going, ‘Man, this is awesome. I love it at Bellator. This is cool. You guys paid me a ton of money, and you put me front and center. This is awesome.’ And the one guy that comes out that’s under contract with us happens to managed by the same guy Ed is managed by and happens to train out of the same camp – and he happens to be a guy that we’ve given six fights to in 18 months and made three tournament offers to. You don’t have to be a Mensa student to figure out what’s going on there. That’s what hurts me so much.”
Rebney has similar feelings toward Makovsky, who is no longer part of the promotion after dropping consecutive fights to Anthony Leone and Eduardo Dantas. In 2010, Makovsky claimed the promotion’s first-ever bantamweight title with a Season 3 tournament victory and was then victorious in two non-title fights before losing to Dantas during his first attempt at defending the belt.
Prior to the Dantas fight, Makovsky signed an addendum to his promotional agreement that entitled him to $15,000 to show for his first title defense and called for $15,000 extra should he win. For each subsequent win, Makovsky was to earn a bump of $2,500 in show money, as well as $2,500 in potential win money.
However, the same agreement outlined what would happen should Makovsky lose the belt: His compensation would be governed by his original promotional agreement, which started with a pay of $7,000 to show and another $7,000 for a win.
“I’ve got Zach’s promotional agreement, and I’ve also got Zach’s two bout agreements,” Rebney said. “Zach was contractually required to make $15,000 and $15,000 for his Dantas fight, which he made. He then lost to Dantas. We tried to get him a fight against Anthony Leone for a comeback fight, a fight he could potentially win and get back on track. He had a contractually mandated amount he would make for the Anthony Leone fight in his promotional agreement. We paid him that exact amount. We didn’t ask him to take less money for the Anthony Leone fight. He didn’t win the fight. Anthony pulled off an upset, and literally we released Zach.
“I’ve heard people say, ‘Oh, but then you tried to re-sign him for less.’ No we didn’t. We released him, and we haven’t talked to him since. We paid him exactly what was mandated in the promotional agreement. There was a thought process of maybe releasing him after the title fight, and we said, ‘No, let’s try and get him back on track. Let’s give him a fight he should win in his own backyard.’ He didn’t win it, but the amount that he was paid for that fight was exactly what was spelled out in his promotional agreement.”
Rebney realizes Alvarez has gained much favor in the court of public opinion with his recent media appearances and Twitter rants. The Bellator boss said he initially preferred to remain silent but feels Alvarez’s false claims forced him to speak out.
“I didn’t want to have these conversations in a public forum because I don’t want to be engaged in a ‘he said, she said,’” Rebney said. “I don’t want to be engaged in a public spat. But for a long period of time, this was just a conflict over matching, and it was what it was. Ed had an opinion, and we had an opinion. I happen to think ours is right, but regardless, that’s what the conflict was. But now to completely deceive people and spread untrue facts just is not right. Somebody has to step up and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute. Here’s the paperwork. You’re not telling the truth.’ It’s not right.”
At this point, Rebney, Alvarez and Bellator seemed destined for a long, drawn-out court battle, and some have suggested the parties just cut ties and head in different directions. Rebney understands that sentiment but disagrees that it’s the proper approach in handling the tense negotiations.
“It has gone very sour,” Rebney said. “But the motivation behind it is pretty simple. We’re in a very, very unique spot in terms of rarified air. We’re in a spot that nobody else has ever occupied in the mixed-martial-arts space other than the UFC, and I think it needs to be made very clear we never have been and we never will be a feeder system for the UFC. We are building up champions and some of the greatest fighters in the world compete in this organization. I believe we have the greatest featherweight and the greatest lightweight in the world fighting in this organization, and soon I believe we’ll have more of the nest fighters in their respective weights fighting in this organization.
“We did not get into this to be No. 2, and so the reality of this situation is that we’re not simply an organization that was designed to give people an opportunity, and then ultimately they can transition to the UFC. When you sign a contract, and you get a $150,000 signing bonus, even if it’s four years later, you still have to live up to the terms of that agreement. Call me old-school, but when you sign an agreement with somebody and you take a lot of money and you get paid handsomely to fight, the expectation is that you should live up to your commitments that you made in that contract. That is the point.
“I don’t think the UFC would walk away from a situation where they felt that they were right, nor will we walk away from a situation where we feel that we’re right. We feel it’s in the best interests of the company to see this thing out.”
For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the sports.
(Pictured: Bjorn Rebney)