Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has told Sherdog that his Middleweight champion Hector Lombard (31-2-1, 1 NC) has been offered a contract by the UFC. Rebney has the option to match the contract and will make that decision next week.
"We've received the final proposed UFC agreement from Hector's attorney, and right now we are in the process of reviewing it to determine whether we're going to match the agreement. We've got the 60 pages of UFC contract that were forwarded to us by Hector's counsel. We've been waiting on the actual contract itself to see all of the specifics and every conceivable detail and know exactly what is being offered. Now we have something really specific to look at," Rebney told Sherdog.
As part of his Bellator contract, Lombard had to wait a couple of months after his current contract expired before he could talk to competing promotions. Now he is in a period where Bellator has the option of matching any contract offer he receives.
I assume Lombard does not have to accept any such counter-offer but he might be forced to wait an additional time period if Bellator matches the UFC and he doesn't want to re-sign with Bellator. For the 34-year-old Lombard time is of the essence.
More from Rebney after the jump...
"The reality is that Hector is going to do extremely well whether he is fighting in the Octagon or the Bellator circle, and I think everybody knew that. He's one of the best middleweights on the face of the earth," Rebney said. "He hasn't fought in a long time, and he had to wait through these periods contractually to get to a point where he could go out and seek an offer from a competing organization.
"Out of respect for Hector, I think we will turn [the UFC contract] around very quickly," said Rebney. "Obviously, we have a huge event coming up Friday [Bellator 66]. As soon as that is over, we will sit down with our partners and go through the UFC contract line-for-line and make a strategic decision whether we're going to match it or pass. [If we pass, we will] wish him the best and let him go knock out everybody in the UFC."
Let's hope Rebney is true to his word and expedites the process. It's a hard spot for the promotion. Lombard is easily one of their most high-profile fighters along with former Lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez and Welterweight champ Ben Askren.
Alvarez is also nearing the end of his contract and has indicated some interest in signing with the UFC.
According to Bellator's tournament system Lombard should fight Alexander Shlemenko, the most recent MW tournament winner, for the title but Lombard is sitting out his contract and Shlemenko suffered serious injuries in a car wreck, including a broken collar bone.
Regardless it's clear that Lombard has outgrown MMA's #2 organization and is at a now-or-never point with the UFC.