Bellator Releases Champion Eddie Alvarez, Clears Path for UFC to Acquire His Services

August 19, 2014
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Eddie AlvarezFollowing a lengthy legal battle, the path is finally clear for Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez to jump ship and sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Alvarez already tried to sign with the UFC after initially completing his Bellator fight contract, but that resulted in lawyers battling over Bellator’s right to match the UFC’s contract offer and whether or not they truly could match the offer.

Instead of sitting on the sidelines for years while a legal battle played out, Alvarez came to an agreement to return to Bellator and fight. He fought one more time under the promotion’s banner, recapturing the lightweight title.

He still wasn’t happy, however, and despite Bellator management being removed from Bjorn Rebney and handed over to Scott Coker, the resolution was Bellator and parent company Viacom finally relenting and granting Alvarez his unconditional release.

Coker, Bellator’s president, announced the release on Tuesday.

“We’ve granted Eddie his unconditional release. Eddie is free to explore the free agent market, we hold no matching rights, and we wish him the best in the future,” said Coker.

“We sat down with Eddie and his team a few times, and it became pretty clear early on that he just wasn’t interested in fighting for Bellator in the future. We want guys in this organization that want to be here, and after the history Eddie and the former regime had here at Bellator, we decided to move on. We wish Eddie the absolute best of luck with whatever is next for him. It’s a new chapter for everyone involved.”

Alvarez issued a statement of his own as part of the Bellator release, saying he didn’t hold a grudge against his now-former employer.

“This was a long process but it’s a decision that everyone seems happy with. I think it’s important to say that I am genuinely thankful for my time at Bellator. I know that sounds a little crazy given everything I went through, but I’ve fought there since 2009, and have been involved in some really amazing fights,” he said.

“The staff there always treated me great, and I’m going to miss seeing a lot of those familiar faces around for sure. Myself and my team had some really good discussions with Scott, but in my heart I knew I was ready to move on and start the next chapter in my career.”

What that next chapter holds is likely to include fighting in the famed Octagon. With Alvarez being granted his full release without any matching rights or other entanglements, the UFC would be free to sign him without all the hassles that emerged when they attempted to sign him just over a year ago.

UFC officials at the time of publication had no comment on Alvarez’s release or the prospect of him signing with the promotion.

Alvarez is the second Bellator champion in less than a year that the promotion has allowed to walk away. Bellator released undefeated welterweight champion Ben Askren last November.

SEE ALSO: Bellator Allows Undefeated Welterweight Champion Ben Askren to Walk Away

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  • Eric Adams

    Alvarez vs Grant UFC 179

    I bet it happens~

    • TheCerealKiller

      Cowboy!

  • Seth

    So, Coker actually is smart and he knows that Eddie would leave anyway after his next fight. So instead hyping him and promoting even more before he leaves, he agreed to release him. He doesn’t want to waste time and money to promote a fighter who would leave no matter what…I give him a point for that, good call.

    Now let’s see what Eddie can do in the UFC :)

    • mmalive

      Nope Seth.

      Coker released Eddie cause he suffered at hands of Bellator and Rebney. with contract issues.

      Coker knew Eddie was not happy and did not want to stand in Eddie’s way.

      No need to hype Eddie. He is a very well known fighter in MMA world regardless.

      Also Coker could not match UFC offer as well.

      Best of luck to Eddie.

      • Seth

        You missed my point.
        You have Eddie, so you have to promote him and his fights – which costs money. You do that…only to see him leave after one fight. That’s wasting money. It has nothing to do with Eddie’s “suffering” because it wasn’t Rebney’s fault. It was Viacom – they screwed Eddie, same az Machovsky and a few other guys. Rebney was nothing more than a mouthpiece for Viacom, he had no power over things like that. For Scott, promoting Eddie now as a champion and hyping up his fights – it’s waste of money. Better to take that money and promote next Lightweight title fight (God, I hope it won’t be Chandler vs Brooks…), because winner of that fight will stay for longer time with them, so it makes sense to promote that fighter.

        • Kris-tyahn

          I concur with you 100% SETH! Why promote & spend tons of cash on a fighter who A, doesn’t want to be there and who will not re-sign there after his next fight. I also think Bellator/Coker is “saving face”/repairing the damage Rebny did by forcing Alvarez to fight, where he didn’t want to fight.
          Rebny was/is too stupid to understand a fighters point of view, sure Alvarez will get more money fighting in the UFC, but I guarantee you that, that it’s not his prime reason for wanting to fight in the UFC. He wants to go where the talent is. Like I said, Rebny is too stupid to comprehend that notion.
          Coker is sure making Bellator look a lot better & much more appealing to younger fighters & even to the fighters they have under contract.
          I don’t see Alvarez winning the belt or being top 3 in the UFC’s LW, but I definitely think he’s #4 or #5. Would I be “shocked” if he wins the LW belt?!? Not really, I just don’t think he’s a better fighter than Pettis or Ben Henderson. I’d love to see Alvarez fight Melendez or even the undefeated LW Russian… can’t spell his name & won’t even attempt to butcher it.

  • Mike mckinney

    I’m not sure exactly why they let him go. Decent reason written above.
    It could also be a message to everyone else coming up that they don’t need to worry about signing with Bellator. That if they do want out they won’t be held hostage.
    If you’re an up and coming guy it was scary to sign with Bellator because you may get stuck there.