Up until this October, Eddie Alvarez (24-3) has been Bellator's Lightweight golden boy. He came to the organization back in 2009 and reeled off an impressive 7 straight wins. His BFC resume includes finishes over leg-lock expert Toby Imada and UFC veterans Roger Huerta and Josh Neer. In 2010, he hit his peak ranking as the #3 155 lb fighter.
Alvarez wrapped up his contract at Bellator 76 with a first round KO of Patricky Freire. The only blemish on his record with the promotion was a 4th round submission loss to Michael Chandler at Bellator 58 in a fight of the year candidate. Since then he's been enjoying the luxury of free agency. In the weeks after his last fight, he declined Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney's initial offer to re-sign with the company.
UFC president Dana White made it clear following the Freire fight that the UFC was definitely interested in Alvarez. However, it took him over two months to submit an offer.
Loretta Hunt announced the news on Twitter:
Per Bellator's Bjorn Rebney, they've received UFC contract offer for Eddie Alvarez and are now a few days into 2-wk matching period. 1/2— Loretta Hunt (@lorettahuntmma) December 19, 2012
Rebney says Bellator has capability to match what UFC has offered Alvarez. Decision will be made in next week and half 2/2— Loretta Hunt (@lorettahuntmma) December 19, 2012
To clear up any confusion: after Alvarez declined Bellator's offer, Rebney gave up his right to an "exclusive negotiation" period. By all rights, Rebney could have tied Alvarez down for up to 90 days where he could deal only with Bellator, but Bjorn forfeited that right on behalf of his company. That is not the same as the matching period, which Rebney did not waive. That means, if Rebney decides to match the UFC offer, Alvarez is obligated to re-sign with Bellator.
As far as the offer from the UFC, we don't have any details yet. What can be gleaned from the little bit of information that we have is that the UFC didn't back Alvarez anywhere near as strongly as they did Hector Lombard. Rebney said a while back that Lombard picked up a $300K per fight offer along with PPV points and a $400K signing bonus. That contract wasn't feasible for Bellator to match. The fact that Rebney says matching Alvarez's contract is within their means indicates that Eddie received a significantly less lucrative offer.
UPDATE: I spoke to Loretta Hunt on Twitter immediately following the posting of this article. She informed me that (1) Rebney and Bellator never extended an official offer to Alvarez following Bellator 76. They sit down to talk, but no official contract was given or rejected. (2) Bellator's ability to match Eddie's offer from the UFC is not an indication of it being less than Hector Lombard's.