There's a lot going on with Bellator these days, so when it was announced that Bellator's CEO, Bjorn Rebney, would be appearing on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, it became a must-listen for fans of America's second-largest promotion.
After discussing Bellator's ratings and relationship with Spike TV, the subject turned to Eddie Alvarez, who he said he “remains hopeful” to have return to the Bellator cage. Alvarez and Bellator have been butting heads over his desire to leave the promotion for the UFC, and while he was initially friendly on the subject, he flatly stated he “expects him to fulfill his contract.”
Pressed on the issue, Helwani asked, “Why not just let him join the UFC?” Rebney responded that “when you sign a contract, you do it so that people can't say, 'This doesn't work for me anymore'...you can't have a change of heart on that.”
At this point, Helwani stated that Alvarez called on to the show, but Rebney declined what would likely be an airing of grievances in public, though stated he would be willing to talk to Alvarez in private.
The focus then shifted to Josh Barnett and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Rebney said that while he has “always liked Barnett” and that he is a “great personality,” he was not sure about adding him to the Bellator roster, but did not rule it out. On Jackson, he put forward a similar story, saying that Rampage has always been a great fighter, but came well short of saying that they were pursuing him.
The ugliness in the Bellator bantamweight picture then came up. As a reminder, Eduardo Dantas lost a charity fight to Tyson Nam in a small Brazilian event last year, halting a rapid rise to fame for Dantas and making many question the quality of the Bellator 135-pound fighters. While Rebney did not dismiss the questions surrounding Dantas' rank, he chalked up the loss to Nam as a result of Dantas' exciting, go-for-broke fighting style.
Dantas will be fighting long-time training partner Marcos Galvao this Thursday on Spike TV.
Shortly after Rebney left the call, Alvarez was brought on the line and dismissed Rebney's friendly demeanor and the notion that Bellator was matching the UFC's contract offer, saying that Bellator was the guilty party and are “not living up to their end” of his contract. He then openly said that the Bellator and Spike TV representation "bold-faced lied" to the judge at their court hearing last month, saying that they confabulated a pay-per-view title fight with current lightweight champ Michael Chandler in order to win their case.
Alvarez, Chandler and Chandler's management team deny ever being approached regarding a rematch.
He then reiterated the sentiment that Bellator, simply, wasn't matching the UFC's offer. When asked if the bridge between himself and Bellator had been burned, however, Alvarez immediately said he was not unwilling to return to his long-time promotion, but once again stated they simply were not giving him as lucrative an offer as the UFC.
Asked what he thought of Rebney's refusal to talk to Alvarez, Alvarez coyly asked, “What does it say to you?” and stated he had nothing to hide, while implying Rebney does. In spite of all that, Alvarez stated he did not want to sit out the remainder of his contract with Bellator, that he “is already itching to fight” after three months and was looking to avoid a trial.
You can listen to the full interviews here.