USA TODAY: Eddie Alvarez says 'gloves are off' in Viacom/Bellator contract fight


eddie-alvarez-13.jpg(This story appeared in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)

Eddie Alvarez is through playing nice. When it comes to his legal battle with his former employers at the Bellator MMA fight promotion, Alvarez said, “The gloves are off.”

“They’re not playing fair,” said Alvarez (24-3), who criticized Bellator’s majority owner, Viacom, as a “group of idiots” in a Twitter tirade last weekend.

For Alvarez (24-3), a highly marketable fighter who’s No. 10 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA lightweight rankings, that means giving up any hope of a settlement with Bellator or a speedy resolution to their contract dispute, and taking his fight to the court of public opinion while he waits for a trial to settle the matter. Alvarez’s lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey.

In October the former Bellator lightweight champion won the final fight on his contract, allowing him to entertain offers from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Bellator initially granted Alvarez an early release from his exclusive negotiation period but retained the right to match any offer Alvarez received. That’s exactly what the organization claimed it did after the UFC made him an offer, though Alvarez and his legal team disagree.

“They’re saying they’re matching the UFC’s contract,” Alvarez said. “They knew they couldn’t match it, and when I was given my early release, they tried to change the wording in my early release, which I had to sign. They tried to change ‘all terms’ to ‘material terms’ because they know they can’t match all terms.”

That’s just one of the accusations Alvarez is making. He also said though Viacom lawyers told a judge of plans to put him in a pay-per-view championship fight, no such plans exist.

Bellator has yet to hold a PPV event, and even if it did, Alvarez said, “they know they wouldn’t even come close to doing the same numbers as the UFC,” which offered him a percentage of PPV revenue in its offer.

Representatives for Bellator and Viacom, which owns the Spike TV network that airs Bellator events, declined to comment for this story, though Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney recently said discussions with Alvarez had broken down.

“I don’t have any projections of it getting settled at this point because we’re not talking,” he said.

In the meantime, Alvarez is out of work. He recently sold an investment property in Philadelphia, which he said he “had to do to survive financially.” He has accused Bellator of short-changing other fighters, saying the organization bullied another former champion into taking a pay cut.

“It’s become a little bigger than my case,” Alvarez said. “I’m no sob story. There are fighters who make way less who have to fight. They can’t speak out because they have bills to pay. I’m fortunate to be in the position where I can stand up for myself. I don’t know if it’s worth it, but I know that this is what I would tell my kids to do. As long as I can pay my bills and stay afloat, I’m going to do what’s right.”

(Pictured: Eddie Alvarez)

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