(Sometimes you’re the hammer, sometimes you’re the nail. Images via Bellator.com)
Eddie Alvarez‘s attempt to pursue better opportunities in the UFC is having a disastrous effect on the former Bellator lightweight champion career. To recap: After Alvarez’s contract with Bellator expired, the UFC sent him a juicy offer that included a $250,000 signing bonus, a percentage of pay-per-view revenue, and the potential to be promoted on a future FOX card. Bellator “matched” it by simply copying the exact terms of the deal — which Alvarez didn’t appreciate, considering that Bellator doesn’t run pay-per-shows or broadcast their fights on network television.
The two sides have been engaged in a knotty legal battle since January over whether Alvarez is obligated to accept that deal. Unfortunately, time continues to tick away on Alvarez’s prime competitive years — the 29-year-old hasn’t competed since his first-round KO of Patricky Freire last October — and the case might not be settled for a long, long time. As MMAJunkie reports:
According to documents filed Monday in U.S. district court, the two parties aren’t required to see each other in court until after Sept. 15, 2014, when a pre-trial conference may take place.
That means it could be near the end of 2014 before a jury gets involved, unless a settlement takes place…
Attorneys for Alvarez and Bellator outlined a plan for moving forward with the case, which calls for the discovery portion to be completed by Feb. 28, 2014 and depositions, or out-of-court testimony, by July 28. The two may add parties to the case by Oct. 15 of this year.
Discovery is a pre-trial phase where parties obtain evidence, which may include documents, depositions or requests for an opposing party to admit or deny allegations.
Earlier this month, Alvarez and Bellator also signed off on a confidentiality agreement, which means only their respective lawyers will be privy to evidence gathered until the trial.
For the record, Alvarez has no intention of settling before trial, and might be showing up in some underground Miami pit-fights just to make some cash and stay sharp. Luckily, he should be able to compete somewhere by 2015, which is right around the corner. Eddie will be a youngish 31 years old, and the Cyborg Overlords will still allow human beings to beat each other in cages for their entertainment — at least, the human beings who weren’t wiped out by The Disaster. (I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but it gets pretty awful around here. I’m writing this from the future, by the way, in a cave near the earth’s core, where it’s still warm.)
I know neither side wants to crack in this legal battle, but Bellator needs to start thinking about what a victory would look like for them. A marquee fighter who is forced to work for the company that essentially ruined his life? And you think everything’s just going to go back to normal? Bellator wants to make a stand to prove that it can’t just be raided by the UFC every time it has an asset worth taking. But it might be better for Bellator’s public image — and the sport as a whole — if they just let this one go.