Bellator should be celebrating. There should be champagne bottles popping all over the place in Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney’s office. Instead, you’re more likely to find him with a pair of reading glasses on, examining the fine print of Eddie Alvarez’s contract.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because he’s already been through one PR nightmare with Alvarez. The notorious legal battle involving Bellator, Alvarez and the UFC gave the promotion a nasty black eye. The nature of Bellator contracts became common knowledge, too. We heard fighters complain in the past about Bellator contracts, but Alvarez’s case gave us a closer look at the paperwork.

Well, fans got another look at the fine print when Rebney dropped this little nugget following Bellator 120.

“The reality of the Ed situation is that Ed’s contract specifies that his next fight would be against Michael Chandler. So Ed, now, is in a position where he can choose to fight Chandler and, contractually, we have to give him the Chandler fight after he beat Chandler the first time. Or alternatively, look, you saw what Will Brooks did today. It’s a situation that we’ll have to sit down and discuss with Ed and figure out where it goes, because he’s got paperwork and a contract that gives him the right to demand a Chandler fight. Now it all boils down to contract language. It puts us in a difficult spot. We’ll see what Ed’s position is and try to work through it,” Rebney said in the post-fight scrum.

Instead of celebrating its first pay-per-view event, Bellator now finds itself in a no-win situation with its biggest star. Alvarez was forced out of his scheduled contest with Chandler at Bellator 120 with a concussion. Stepping up for Alvarez was Brooks, who then proceeded to not only hang with Chandler in the cage, but actually defeat the former lightweight champ. It would seem academic as to what the next fight for current champ Alvarez and interim champ Brooks should be—the unification bout. Instead, Alvarez has the option to complete the stellar trilogy with Chandler before (or instead of) facing Brooks.

Bellator, as always, has preached a message of putting the fighter before the brand. That might work for up-and-coming prospects, but it has backfired miserably for the promotion in its dealings with major stars. The promotion is virtually at the mercy of Alvarez in this situation, somewhere no promotion should ever find itself.

Not only is Bellator faced with having its hands tied with its lightweight championship, but the organization is also faced with the prospect of two fights that are completely unmarketable to even the most hardcore of MMA fans.

Alvarez and Chandler had been a great rivalry. Both of their contests were extremely entertaining, and the rubber match was a highly anticipated bout. However, the glamour of that match has been effectively rubbed off by Brooks’ win over Chandler. Yes, Alvarez and Chandler have put on some instant classics, but how can Bellator maintain its integrity while promoting a fight between a champion and a guy who has two losses in a row?

And yet, how does the promotion sell the idea of Alvarez facing the relatively unknown Brooks? The fight at least has the initial parameters covered, in that it features two guys coming off wins, and it would make sense in terms of unifying the titles. However, Brooks is far from a household name, and he isn’t the consensus winner from his fight with Chandler.

Alvarez’s time with Bellator is drawing to a close, and it’s a safe bet that he’d care more for concluding his rivalry with Chandler than he would for facing Brooks. He already said the interim title means nothing, so what does he have to gain by unifying the belts? Many people already consider him the best lightweight outside the UFC, with or without Bellator gold. And with Brooks’ recent Twitter tirade, the promotion might be leery of having him headline an event.

In the end, it’s very likely that either fight will deliver once the cage door closes. The problem for Bellator is getting fans to deliver with their wallets.

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.