Last night, I reported the news that former Bellator Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez had finally received an offer to become a UFC fighter. Bellator Bjorn Rebney said that he'll take up to 2 weeks to decide whether or not his company will choose to match the UFC's offer. I followed that news up with some speculation based on the information I had at the time. It didn't take me long to find out much of what I thought I knew was wrong.
I originally got the information from Loretta Hunt of Sports Illustrated. Only minutes after I published the article, Hunt reached out on Twitter to correct me on a few points.
Loretta - According to Rebney, Bellator never made Alvarez new offer, went straight to free agent
Chris - Thanks! Could have sworn it came out shortly after BFC 76 that Alvarez declined, but I'll update.
Loretta - They did sit down to talk and Bellator/Spike mapped out where new deal could go, but no official #s put to paper according to Rebney
Loretta - and from my convo with Rebney today, I don't glean that Alvarez's offer is necessarily less than Lombard's
Chris - That was speculation on my part, $700K plus PPV seems well out of their price range without big backing by Viacom
Loretta - they have Viacom's backing. Like Lombard, Rebney would weigh return on price is worth it
She followed up by retweeting a previous conversation where Rebney addresses the possibility of countering PPV points in a UFC contract.
Loretta - could only get Rebney to hypothetically speak on PPV option, that if it were included in a fighter's offer, Bellator can match it.
Loretta - I don't they'd have an issue promoting a PPV - just need the right combo of fights
It was very surprising to me to hear that Bellator/Viacom aren't concerned with a price tag on Alvarez similar to what Lombard got. If, and I still think it's very big if, Viacom were to match an offer like that it would show incredible confidence in Bellator as a product. I'm still skeptical that they would put up that kind of money, but I don't think Loretta would have broached the subject if it wasn't at least plausible.
And it might make sense for them. Alvarez is one of Bellator's few homegrown stars and they still have time to include him in the upcoming LW tournament. If they think a top 10 lightweight would pay off in viewership in their debut season on Spike, it may be worth the expense to make sure include him.
The idea of matching UFC PPV percentages with a Bellator PPV seems way off, though. Historically, non-UFC pay-per-views have not done well in the US. The two Affliction PPV's, both of which featured notable talent, did 190K buys combined. The closest exception was WEC 48 at 175K, but that was with a big backing by the UFC marketing machine. A Bellator PPV wouldn't have the star power of Affliction nor the Zuffa backing of WEC. It'd be very hard to argue that their PPV percentage would be anywhere near as valuable as UFC points.