With another Bellator season winding down, CEO Bjorn Rebney joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to discuss two of the biggest stars in the promotion’s history: Hector Lombard and Eddie Alvarez.
Lombard recently left Bellator to sign with the UFC. Alvarez, however, has one fight left on his Bellator deal and could re-sign with the company or possibly join Lombard in the UFC.
Rebney on how negotiations with Lombard unfolded: “We don’t have that kind of ridiculously oppressive champion’s clause where if you’re champion, you stick with us until you’re 60 or 70 years old. We had an opportunity to negotiate exclusively with him. That came to an end, and then he had the right to solicit an offer from the UFC, and then we had the right to match it. … He went to the UFC, got a large-scale contract, submitted that to us, which was literally like 60 pages’ worth of contract and terms. We reviewed it with myself and our partners at Viacom and at Spike and looked at the agreement, looked at the pay-per-view movers and shakers in the agreement, looked at kind of the catalyst to being able to monetize the agreement, and just made a conscious decision.”
On the UFC offering Lombard a percentage of pay-per-view revenue: “That’s not part of our business dynamic right now. It’s not part of our format. It may be in the future, but it isn’t today. Part of the reason Bellator’s the number two player in the mixed martial arts space worldwide right now is that we’ve made decisions based on business principles. We’ve made decisions based on hard, fast numbers and objective data that we can take a look at as opposed to what a lot of people who’ve tried to come into our space have done, which is kind of throw mud at the wall and hope against hope that that proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow will fall into their lap … .”
On Lombard’s future in the UFC: “Hector’s an awesome dude. I think he’s the best middleweight in the world. I think that in very short order we will see Hector Lombard win the UFC title at 185 pounds on pay-per-view. I wish the guy nothing but the greatest success. He was great for us. There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be great for the UFC.”
On how Bellator’s partnership with Viacom could affect negotiations with fighters and other investments: “Our partners at Spike and Viacom have been big supporters of the concept that a business runs by making good business decisions. Do we have greater access? Do we have greater ability now to make decisions to invest in opportunities? Sure. But is it going to change the way we do things like a young kid into new money? No, it won’t. We’re still going to make the decision based on real data and looking at things.”
On Eddie Alvarez’s future with Bellator: “Eddie’s with us until the middle part of next fall. He’s got one more fight left on his deal with us. He’s been great with us. Obviously he had a major setback in his Mike Chandler loss for the world title, but he had a great springboard fight back in the convincing first-round [Shinya] Aoki knockout victory. Kudos for Ed and for coming back and facing probably the most dangerous submission fighter in our game and beating him the way he did. But we’ll see. Ed will either have another fight under our banner against one of our very tough 155-pounders and/or we’ll negotiate a deal with Ed that puts him back in the Bellator fold for years to come, or we won’t [and] he’ll have one more fight, then he’ll be free to go and solicit offers from the UFC and see kind of where that goes and we’ll analyze whether we’re going to match it or not.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 3:16).