(Last warning, Hector. If you grunt like that one more time we’re going to revoke your membership.)
In a new report about Eddie Alvarez’s impending free-agency, MMAFighting.com got Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney to share details of a similar situation in which his promotion got into a bidding war with the UFC. It happened six months ago with their former middleweight champ Hector Lombard, and in that case, it didn’t exactly work out for either party:
Lombard hit the open market, where he was immediately offered a lucrative deal with the UFC. Rebney said that contract, which according to him paid Lombard a $400,000 signing bonus, a $300,000 starting purse per fight and pay-per-view participation points, was cost-prohibitive from Bellator’s standpoint.
If the UFC came in with a similar offer for Alvarez, who is considered by most observers to be right around the top five lightweights in the world, it is believed that would make him the highest-paid 155-pounder in the UFC. On the other hand, Lombard’s debut in the UFC was considered a disappointment, as he lost a lackluster split-decision to Tim Boetsch. That development could cause the UFC to reconsider a big-money offer for another free agent.
“Disappointment” is an understatement. Part of the thoroughly-cursed UFC 149 main card, Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch was supposed to be a guaranteed slugfest, and a possible coming-out party for Lombard in the UFC. Between Lombard’s superhuman knockout power and Boetsch’s never-say-die grittiness, what could possibly go wrong? As it turned out, both fighters spent long stretches of the match just staring at each other, unwilling to commit. Boetsch ultimately claimed a split-decision victory — playing the spoiler role once again — but since the fight came directly after two main card bouts that were just as terrible (James Head vs. Brian Ebersole and Cheick Kongo vs. Shawn Jordan), it was a frustrating moment for almost everyone in the building.
After the fight, Lombard blamed his uncharacteristically dull performance on a sternum injury, but the damage to his reputation had already been done. A hyped-up champion from Bellator stepped into the Octagon and completely crashed-and-burned — and it cost the UFC more than $700,000 to make it happen. And as MMAFighting.com points out, that doesn’t bode well for Eddie Alvarez’s chances of getting a big-money offer from the UFC. (Fool me once, etc.)
We once called Brandon Vera “unquestionably the most overpaid fighter on the UFC’s roster,” for collecting $500,000 dollars during a 1-3 stretch of sub-mediocrity. In a single fight, Lombard has blown past him on the Overpaid UFC Fighter Leaderboard. Let’s hope he starts earning his cash against Rousimar Palhares in December.