Posts Tagged ‘Eddie Alvarez’

Bellator MMA/Jesse Holland

Former PRIDE and UFC star “Rampage” Jackson is going to help change the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), thanks to his new landmark deal with Bellator and TNA, though I get the feeling Eddie Alvarez may be of dissenting opinion.

Chris Weidman wanted nothing to do with Bellator MMA once he read the fine print on their contract.

Eddie Alvarez is taking them to court to try to break free of their stranglehold over his career and recent signee, Paul Daley, is furious over the restrictions they’ve placed on his mixed martial arts (MMA) career.

I guess Quinton Jackson knows something they don’t.

“Rampage” signed an exclusive deal with Spike TV and Viacom on Tuesday (see the details here) and tells TMZ that not only is he living his dream, but he’s paving the way for other fighters who (like him) may be unhappy with the way Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is doing business.

“When you look at my deal in the UFC, and the scope of what my deal with Bellator and TNA is, this is a dream come true. When other fighters get the chance to see everything I’m able to do with this deal and the benefits it provides, you’re going to see a big change in MMA. I guarantee it.”

Those benefits are likely the same ones shared by former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Muhammed Lawal, who also joined the Viacom family roughly one year ago. And, like Jackson, “King Mo” will also pull double duty as a professional wrestler.

When and against who, remains to be seen.

Jackson’s dream may soon become a nightmare if he’s unable to capitalize on this new opportunity. Lawal suffered a serious setback when he was knocked out by Emanuel Newton earlier this year (see it here) and “Rampage” is already mired in a three-fight slump.

You know the old saying: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE/Steph Daniels Bloody Elbow

Former UFC lightweight, John Alessio discusses his new deal with Bellator, his decision to leave Xtreme Couture, his personal kryptonite, battle with depression and his new business venture in this exclusive interview.

Achieving a career dream is a tough challenge, but with diligence, hard work and perseverance, it can be done. In mixed martial arts, the pinnacle is the UFC, however, once you get inside the Zuffa family, maintaining your foothold within the organization can present a daunting task. Performance is key, and winning is everything. For those who find themselves in the unenviable position of being on the “Exit” side of the revolving door, there are options that are financially beneficial, as well as giving a similar advantage of TV visibility.

Bellator is rapidly making it’s mark as a powerhouse in MMA, and has bolstered their roster with some talented athletes, both well known and fresh to the scene. While in the past, their public stance has been adverse to hiring former UFC fighters, it would appear that they have relaxed their hiring protocols recently, and have recruited several former octagon stars, with former UFC lightweight, John Alessio being their latest acquirement. I recently sat down with John, and got his thoughts on his new contract, leaving Xtreme Couture, his personal kryptonite and his new business venture. Here’s what he had to say:

Stephie Daniels: In light of the situation with Eddie Alvarez, do you enter this contract a bit more cautiously and thoughtfully?

John Alessio: Ya know, there’s problems with every organization. You could say bad things about the UFC, you could say bad things about any show out there. It’s a long contract, so I’m definitely tied up for a long time, but at this point in my career, I want a home. I want to be able to have an organization to help build me up and give me a place to fight. I hope that I get used in the right way and get the right match-ups, so I can put on exciting fights for the crowd.

Different people have different problems, but for me, as of right now, Bellator has been really great, and I have nothing to say except that. I don’t know all the situations that are going on with them, but I have received a few bad tweets warning me to be careful, this and that, but honestly, I’m not that worried about it. At this point, I’m not going back to the UFC. I’m home at Bellator, and I’m here to stay.

Stephie Daniels: You mentioned that you’re locked down for a long time. How many fights are you contracted for?

John Alessio: It’s not necessarily a “per fight” deal, as my understanding of it when it got broken down by my manager. It’s more in a performance based way, which they don’t do as much cutting as the UFC does, you know, if you lose you get cut, or whatever. It’s different pay scales and things and the tournament is obviously three fights to win, and I could go on after that if I win, and fight Chandler for the belt. If I win the tournament, then my contract extends, if I beat Chandler my contract extends – things like that, so it’s not exactly a “per fight” deal. It’s kind of complicated [laughs].

Stephie Daniels: You’ve fought at both lightweight and welterweight, but have stayed at 155 for quite some time. Do you ever see yourself changing weight classes again?

John Alessio: I’m contracted to do the lightweight tournament, but with the right challenge, opponent and payday, I’ll fight at 185. I’ll fight at 205 [laughs]. I’ve got that old school mentality, to me it’s just a man standing across the ring from me. If the right opportunity pops up, and if Bjorn Rebney and Bellator need somebody to step up, then I hope they don’t hesitate to call me.

Stephie Daniels: Recently, John Cholish went public with details of fighter pay that are on the entry level scale or lower tier scale. What are your thoughts on UFC pay?

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Victor Decolongon

Long shrouded in mystery, Bleacher Report has managed to get an in-depth look at the UFC’s fighter contract.

Much of what we know about fighter contracts is second hand. Most of what we hear from the UFC, and UFC fighters, is that we don’t know half as much as we think we do. Now, finally, the veil has been lifted, the unknown has become known, and the next time we hear what the UFC says it’s fighters are contracted for we can separate fact from fiction. After Eddie Alvarez recently posted his contract “match” from Bellator on twitter, Jeremy Botter, at Bleacher Report was able to acquire a copy of the original UFC document.

Now, former Bloody Elbow writer (and current head MMA writer for Bleacher Report) Jonathan Snowden, has gone through the contract piece by piece to provide fans and fighters a detailed look at what the UFC has to offer.

“When you look at who gets the money, at the end of the day, it’s disproportionately Zuffa and disproportionately not the fighter,” Northwestern University labor law professor Zev Eigen told Bleacher Report, calling the UFC contract the worst he’s seen in the sports or entertainment fields. “None of these fighters are represented by a professional association or a union. There’s nothing that sets a minimum or basic standard below which the company can’t go. It makes sense—in any relationship like this you would expect the contract to favor the more powerful actor.

“That should be intuitive and it’s universal. If you’re contracting with Apple, you shouldn’t be surprised that Apple takes as many rights as possible. If you use iTunes in anyway they don’t like, hell, fire will rain down on you. That’s what you can expect anytime you’re contracting with an entity more powerful than you are. So too with the UFC.”

Here’s what Snowden’s breakdown on the UFC’s media requirements for it’s fighters. We’ve seen this come up several times recently with Nick Diaz and Anderson Silva.

The fighter’s main responsibility is to show up and fight. But there is more to it than that. Zuffa requires the fighter to “cooperate and assist in the advertising, publicity, and promotion of (i) the Bouts, (ii) any and all rebroadcast of the Bouts in any media whatsoever, (iii) other UFC bouts, (iv) other UFC events and broadcasts, and (v) the sale of UFC merchandise, including making appearances at a reasonable number of press conferences, interviews and other sponsorship and promotional activities (any of which may be telecast, broadcast, recorded or filmed) at times and places reasonably designated by ZUFFA, without additional compensation therefore. For such promotional activities, ZUFFA will arrange and pay for Fighter’s reasonable travel, hotel and meal accommodations.”

Here’s a look at their actual bout agreement with Eddie Alvarez. While most of the language is, as expected (8 fights/40 months) what’s worth noting is the “Champions Clause” which automatically extends the contract if the fighter should win a UFC title.

4.1 The duration of the Promotional Rights provided herein (the “Term”) shall commence on the Effective Date and end on the earlier of (i) forty (40) months after the first bout promoted by ZUFFA involving Fighter under this Agreement; or (ii) the date on which Fighter has participated in at least eight (8) Bouts promoted by ZUFFA pursuant to this Agreement (the “Termination Date”), unless terminated sooner or extended further pursuant to the provisions of this Agreement.

4.2 If, at the expiration of the Term, Fighter is then a UFC champion, the Term shall automatically be extended for the period commencing on the Termination Date and ending on the later of (i) one (1) year from the Termination Date; or (ii) the date on which Fighter has participated in three (3) bouts promoted by ZUFFA, regardless of weight class or title, following the Termination Date (“Extension Term”). Any reference to the Term herein shall be deemed to include a reference to the Extension Term, where applicable.

Snowden draws heavily from Northwestern University labor law professor Zev Eigen for analysis of the legal details of the piece, here are a few of Eigen’s responses to the various UFC clauses.

On fighter confidentiality:

“The employee has to keep confidential how much he’s making. That’s a complete violation of the National Labor Relations Act on its face. Imagine if a union came out to organize these fighters. To do that they’d need to know how much they were getting paid.”

On the “Champion’s Clause”:

“I think it’s potentially a violation of the 13th Amendment, the prohibition against slavery or involuntary servitude. You can’t force someone to work for you. I don’t know how, under contract law, that would be enforceable. But I don’t think it’s been challenged.”

On cutting fighters:

“This is an unconscionable term. The term unilaterally benefits the employer with no reciprocal benefit to the fighter. It’s completely one-sided, completely unfair and seems to suggest that any term is a material term for purposes of the employer. Every breach could be a material breach for the fighter, but nothing is for the UFC. There’s an argument there that it’s unconscionable and unenforceable.”

Bellator MMA founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney talks about the process of building his promotion into the number one MMA entity in the world and not becoming a “feeder system” to the UFC.

Make to no mistake about it, Bellator MMA wants to become the top mixed martial arts (MMA) organization on the planet.

In a little over four years since it’s first show, Bellator MMA has put on nearly 100 shows across North America and quickly grown into a legitimate promotion with some of the best fighters in the world signed to its roster.

From Pride to World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) to Affliction and most recently Strikeforce, there have been plenty of organizations over the years who have tried to challenge the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and some had more success than others.

Bellator MMA, though, has the financial backing (Viacom) and television partnership (Spike TV) few UFC alternatives have ever come close to. And while that makes the company uniquely successful in its own right, the one thing that is always a constant in this sport is fighters grow up dreaming of fighting in the UFC.

MMA organizations can do their best to hang on to their talent, but at the end of the day a vast majority of the fighters –such as Eddie Alvarez— want the opportunity to showcase their talents on the biggest stage of them all an make the money that comes along with it.

Unfortunately, though, Bellator MMA is not in the business of grooming talent and sending them off to the UFC, which is exactly why company found and CEO Bjorn Rebney tells MMA Junkie that Bellator MMA will never, ever become a “feeder system” for the UFC.

His words:

“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.”

Fans will likely always view the UFC as number one because of the footprint it has left on the sport over the last 20 years, but Rebney feels there is a space for Bellator MMA to surpass the UFC — just not if he is giving up talent to the rival promotion.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The CEO of mixed martial arts’ second-most important organization fired back at claims made by former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez that Bellator changed his contractual language and are using him as a pawn in a war with the UFC.

From a public relations standpoint, it’s been a rough week for the world’s number two mixed martial arts organization and its CEO Bjorn Rebney. Former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez made a series of explosive claims in an interview with Ariel Helwani on Monday’s The MMA Hour. Among others, Alvarez contended Rebney had little say in the dispute, that Bellator had changed his contractual language without his knowledge or consent, and much more.

On Twitter in the days leading up to the interview, Alvarez further asserted on Twitter Bellator malfeasance caused Cosmo Alexandre to be financially destitute and former Bellator bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky to be paid less than what was contractually agreed upon with Bellator.

Last, but certainly not least, former UFC featherweight Leonard Garcia claimed he was offered a deal by Bellator after being released by the UFC this week, but wasn’t interested in accepting it based on what he’d heard from the plights of the aforementioned fighters.

To Rebney, these contentions come as something of a shock. More importantly, Rebney argues they’re a series of claims that aren’t just untrue by word, but demonstrably false.

In this interview with MMA Fighting, Rebney outright challenges the truth of Alvarez’s statements about Viacom and Bellator, reasserts his role as the organization’s decision maker, and much more.

Full audio (mp3 is available)

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Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

In the midst of a very ugly breakup with Eddie Alvarez, long the promotion’s biggest star, the statements and actions of three fighters say a lot about where Bellator stands in the MMA world today. Muhammed ‘King Mo‘ Lawal, the one man Spike TV hype bubble, the troubled Paul Daley and UFC washout Leonard Garcia give three telling perspectives on the promotion.

Bellator, America’s #2 mixed martial arts promotion, doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo about being #2 means you need to try harder. They are currently embroiled in a very public and very ugly legal battle with Eddie Alvarez, that is doing significant damage to their image with MMA fans and fighters.

In its five year run, Bellator has established a reputation as a promotion that can put on a lot of great fights with an easy regularity. It’s also established a reputation as a promotion that will not hesitate to run over fighters every time it contractually can, happily holding fighters hostage and wasting precious years of their athletic primes, frequently when they have no intention of even using those fighters.

The list goes way beyond just Eddie Alvarez. Fighters as varied as Dave “Pee Wee” Herman, Ultimate Fighter finalist Jonathan Brookins, Tyson Nam, and former Bellator Bantamweight champ Zach Makovsky all have spoken publicly about their bad experiences with the promotion.

In this context I thought it was interesting to see what Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal had to say. For those who’ve forgotten, King Mo is the fighter that Spike TV, Bellator and TNA Wrestling all staked high hopes and a LOT of hype in before their most recent season.

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USA TODAY Sports

Former UFC featherweight star, Leonard Garcia details his plans for the future, what went wrong in the McKenzie fight, and flirting with a possible weight change.

It’s been a few weeks since we last saw Leonard Garcia in the octagon, and after several years with the UFC and WEC under the Zuffa umbrella, we won’t be seeing him there again, at least for the immediate future. As is the case with most fighters that are in the good graces of the company, if he strings together some good wins outside the organization, he has an open invitation to come back. With offers flowing in from Bellator, ONE FC, and Legacy, it would seem that he has no shortage of options.

Garcia, always affable and optimistic, has every intention of doing just that. He feels that a change in his training landscape may be in order, and plans to do just that to get his career back on track. In a recent interview with MMA Sentinel, Leonard discussed his training plans, what went wrong in the McKenzie fight, and even hinted at a weight change. Here’s what he had to say:

Fight Performance

I’m just trying to figure out the best way to get back to where I need to be, what organization to go fight for, and stuff like that. I’m trying not to look at it as a negative thing. After a performance like my last fight, even if I had been on a two or three fight win streak, I think I would have gotten cut.

I just didn’t feel good. I felt flat. The best way I know how to explain it is that I felt like I had a flat tire. It was like that. I never got going, I couldn’t get anything, my timing was off, just everything was wrong. It was a terrible, terrible night for me. I felt it when I was in there, I felt it when I was out of the cage, afterward. It was a bad, bad performance. For them to try to hold on to me after that was just too much, and I told them, ‘No, I need to get back. I need a reality check. I need to go back to the beginning and remember what got me there in the first place.’

Sean (Shelby) agreed, and we sat and talked for a while and tried to make decisions based off what we have to work with. The good thing is that the UFC wants guys that are gonna fight. They want guys that are gonna perform, and at the end of the day, even though I had losses, they were hard fought decision losses. I always hung in there and had tough fights with some top guys. This last one, maybe because of who I was fighting, I just couldn’t get fired up for it at all.

I know I had seven fight of the night bonuses, but I wasn’t winning. It’s tough to be in the UFC when you’re not winning. They knew it. I knew it. Everybody knows it. Having this opportunity to get back to it, and go to a smaller show will help me actually appreciate where I was. I think it’s going to be a great step for me to refine my skills and do all the things I need to do to make me a better fighter.

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Photo via Bellator.com

Once again the former Bellator Lightweight champion took to Twitter to publicly discuss his grievances with his former employer.

After a couple months where it seemed a settlement was a possibility, Bellator and Eddie Alvarez have decided that a trial is the only way to settle their dispute. Earlier this week, the promotion’s CEO Bjorn Rebney revealed that despite resolution seeming possible only a month ago, “everything went real dark.” It didn’t take long after that for Alvarez to get on Twitter to reiterate that settlement was no longer a possibility and he wanted to “let the truth come out.”

Friday night, Alvarez followed that rant with another that showed his real problem isn’t with Rebney, but the bosses at Viacom and Spike TV:

This is a lot less about Bjorn uys and a lot more about Viacom. I spoke with the higher ups and explained myself, basically was told, “Too bad.” Bjorn only owns very little and I’m really not sure he has a say at all. I went over his and spoke with his bosses and here we are!

Only an hour later, Alvarez took the defense of some of his fellow Bellator fighters:

I am fortunate compared to guys like Cosmo Alexandre. This guy trains day and night to feed his family and Viacom/Spike continue to hurt him. Alexandre’s story of getting shafter might be worse than mine. Not to mention how Zach Makovsky was bullied to take a smaller pay day than contextually (sic) agreed or just sit after being champ.

I might just dump just real shit tonight until I get a call from someone to stop. So much to talk about now that the gloves are off.

I have nothing to complain about I get paid well enough to keep bills paid, but to bully guys like Zach and Cosmo is a sin.

Bjorn’s a grunt in this. It’s Viacom and Spike and a group of idiots a money who don’t know shit about MMA. I’d be more careful in what I said but I was told as long as I’m truthful then I can say whatever I want.

Eddie finished up by saying that he’d be appearing on Monday’s The MMA Hour “to tell the truth, not be politically correct.” When he spoke with Jason Floyd of The MMA Report, Bjorn Rebney said that he doesn’t think a trial date has yet been set.