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Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney will waive matching period should Eddie Alvarez not re-sign


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Negotiations to keep Eddie Alvarez in Bellator resumed nearly the moment he stepped out of the cage at Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino following a knockout of Patricky "Pitbull" Freire.


Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney now has advanced the timeline on Alvarez's decision, telling MMAjunkie.com (http://www.mmajunkie.com) 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.


Prior to the move, Alvarez had more than two months remaining on an exclusive negotiating period that preceded a matching period of six months. Waiving the exclusive period means that if Alvarez receives an offer from a competing promotion, Bellator has 15 days to match the offer or decline it.


Alvarez fulfilled the final fight of his previous Bellator contract by fighting Freire. In typical fashion, he was staggered early when the two went toe-to-toe and recovered to deliver a head kick that removed Freire from his senses. The bout headlined Bellator 76 on Oct. 12 and aired on MTV2.


"The guy does not know how to have a boring fight, sometimes to his own detriment," Rebney said. "The easiest play ... would have been to stay at distance, used angles and his world-class boxing and just worn down a 15-minute decision. And I knew going into that fight as I'm sure Ed did that there was a better chance that I would grow a second head than he would fight that fight. All he needed to do was win, and he put it all on the line. I would love to have Eddie in Bellator."


During their post-fight discussion, Rebney discussed with Alvarez "entertainment-themed alternatives" that a new contract would offer. Those included cross-promotional opportunities with other Viacom-owned properties, including TNA Impact Wrestling, and shoulder programming that could bolster Alvarez's name recognition and ability to secure more sponsorship money.


The value of the contract, of course, was also part of his pitch, as it's been since dialogue with Alvarez began four months prior and expanded to include executives from Viacom, which owns a majority stake in Bellator. Rebney said the promotion can offer signing bonuses and compensation "on the back end" for title bouts and create "a competitive environment for compensation when a fighter reaches a certain level."


Alvarez's base tournament compensation is the same received by others, he added.


Of course, there is also the promise of a second six-figure payout for Alvarez, who banked an extra $175,000 by winning the promotion's inaugural lightweight competition. However, the eight-man tournaments also would expose him to three opponents ? and a potential pay-crushing loss ? within three months. Rebney repeatedly has stated his promotion is unwilling to bend on its policy that tournaments are the sole way to earn a title shot.


In a previous interview with MMAjunkie.com Radio (http://www.mmajunkie.com/radio), Alvarez noted the inherent risk.


"I spent 10 years of my life trying to build a reputation and build a name, and some guy out of nowhere with six fights or whatever, he doesn't work nearly as hard and he gets a chance to throw a punch with his eyes closed and take everything you've earned," he said.


Rebney, however, says opportunities for gain will increase when the promotion crosses over to Spike TV. The move is expected to attract a larger viewing audience than its previous home on MTV2, and discussions of a possible move from Friday to earlier in the week have taken place. A reality show featuring Bellator hopefuls also is in production and is expected to debut sometime next year.


Alvarez this past November lost his belt to Michael Chandler in a "Fight of the Year" candidate, submitting to the Season 4 tourney winner in the fourth round. He rebounded by avenging a loss to Shinya Aoki, and earlier this month beat Freire. He's repeatedly expressed interest in a rematch with Chandler, who recently said a second meeting wasn't his priority. The current champ is set to fight Season 6 winner Rick Hawn and, if victorious, is expected to meet this season's winner sometime next year.


As for Alvarez's tournament concerns, Rebney can't offer much in the way of reassurance.


"At any given moment over that period, anyone can win and anybody can lose," Rebney said. "Ed's discussed it with me. He's said, 'I may be fighting world-class guys or fighting guys on the cusp of getting there. That's a touchy dynamic for me.' I understand the thought process. It's three fights in three months. It's a tough run."


Alvarez isn't the first Bellator star to contemplate free agency. Middleweight champ Hector Lombard negotiated with the promotion on a new deal and then went to the UFC following the expiration of his exclusive term. The American Top Team fighter signed with the industry-leader in April and in July fought a lackluster debut against Tim Boetsch that snapped a six-year win streak.


Lombard netted $700,000 for that affair, Rebney said, including a $400,000 signing bonus and $300,000 fight purse. The fighter also was sponsored by the UFC.


"If Ed opts to look at the UFC offer, which he may very well do, it will really boil down to, for us, does the UFC put a Hector offer in front of Ed," Rebney said, claiming that such a deal would make Alvarez the highest paid lightweight on the UFC's roster.


Rebney said the Lombard situation had no bearing on his decision to waive the exclusive term. He said a decision to match a potential offer would be made "in relatively short order."


"He and I have had couple of conversations over the last few days, and we'll see if he and I collectively believe that we're close to making a deal," Rebney said. "If we're not close to making a deal, I'll just send him over paperwork, cut short the waiting period, and let him see what [the UFC's] offer is. But I have to assume that (the decision will be made) in the next couple of days."


Either way, he said, Alvarez is likely to get a sweet deal.

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