Bellator lightweight Eddie Alvarez has been granted his release by the organization, according to Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and the fighter himself. The UFC has expressed interest in Alvarez already, but Bellator isn't completely out of the picture just because they've released him. Rebney explained the deal a few days ago to MMA Junkie:
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney now has advanced the timeline on Alvarez's decision, telling MMA Junkie that he'll waive a standard 90-day matching period if the ex-champ doesn't initially take a new contract offer.
"Based on our relationship with Ed, there's no reason to hold him to a series of months of not having the opportunity to look at those offers," Rebney said.
The executive said Bellator retains the right to match other offers should Alvarez decide to test the open market. The UFC has signaled interest in signing the 28-year-old Philadelphian and is expected to make a bid.
Alvarez spoke to MMA Interviews about what might happen in the near future:
"That's not really up to me. I'm in between with my management and promotions. Bjorn Rebney was gracious enough to give us our release papers early, earlier than what we were contractually to get, he gave it to us Friday. So we're going to try to move it along as fast as possible for myself and for Bellator. We'll see. Nothing's set in stone and I'm just waiting to see what happens, letting the management and letting the promotions do their job now."
The key part to me is the matching rights Rebney mentioned. Basically, this just means that Bellator chose not to maintain exclusivity after Alvarez's camp turned down their initial offer, so he can speak to other organizations and they can figure out what his market value will be. Considering the gigantic deal that the UFC signed Hector Lombard to (a 400k signing bonus, 300k a fight, and PPV points), it'd probably be pretty tough for Bellator to match whatever the UFC offers. But stranger things have happened.