Eddie Alvarez (24-3) fought and won on the very first Bellator card in April 2009. Over the next four years he went 9-1 in the promotion and held their inaugural lightweight championship. And by the way, eight of those wins came via stoppage.

The Philadelphia born fighter helped build Bellator Fighting Championships into what it is today. Bellator might say they helped build Eddie Alvarez into what he is today.

Either way, once Alvarez’s contract was up, he was ready to move on. His desire was to fight in the UFC, which has been the ultimate goal of every pro MMA fighter since day one.

The UFC made Alvarez an offer that according to MMAFighting.com began with a $250,000 signing bonus, $70,000 to show and $70,000 to win, and included incremental increases over 40 months or eight fights.

It was an offer Alvarez was happy with and he was ready to finally compete inside the Octagon. Except there was one more hurdle to cross.

According to Alvarez’s contract, Bellator reserved the right to match any offer made by the UFC or anyone else that had intentions of signing the fighter they had been promoting.

Another one of Bellator’s former champions, Hector Lombard, recently went through the same situation. The only difference was the UFC offered him so much money that Bellator did not think it made good business sense to match and he was free to leave.

This was not the case for Alvarez — Bellator chose to “match” the UFC’s offer, and the young man who was all set to get in the Octagon with the Ben Hendersons and the Donald Cerrones and the Anthony Pettises, may now have to return to the organization from whence he came.

Alvarez and his lawyers do not feel Bellator’s counter-offer to the UFC is a real match, and litigation is underway. The court will now decide Alvarez’s future.

One can imagine the frustrations of the fighter, who at 28-years-old and in the prime of his career may never get to test himself against the best of the best in his weight class. Seven of the current top 10 lightweights all reside in the UFC.

Speaking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour on Monday, Alvarez voiced his frustration:

“We don’t believe it was matched at all. I want to be able to give the details to you guys, but I’m not allowed because we’re in the middle of a pending lawsuit. What I can say is what I said on Twitter the other day. If I wanted to go to dinner with one guy who asked me to dinner, and another guy asks me to do dinner, and the intentions of guy number one is to take me into a fine dining restaurant and to eat lobster, and the intention of the second guy is to maybe take me to McDonald’s, guy number two just believes that dinner is dinner. Dinner isn’t dinner, there’s a huge difference when you’re talking McDonald’s or some fine dining, the two we don’t believe are comparable.”

Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney feels their match is legitimate and thinks the hang-up is over projected money Alvarez could potentially earn under the UFC’s Pay-Per-View structure.

And if Alvarez just wants to hurry up and put all this behind him and get back to doing what he does best, well, Rebney indicated he has a hefty check waiting for Alvarez and could have him back fighting right away:

“We have a quarter-of-a-million dollar check sitting and waiting to be sent to Ed and are ready to be scheduling bouts immediately.”

Speaking to a fan on Twitter, Alvarez compared the situation to going through a divorce:

What are your thoughts fight fans? What would you do if you were in Eddie Alvarez’s shoes? What would you do if you were in Bjorn Rebney’s position?

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