In recent weeks things have become very public in the contract dispute between Eddie Alvarez and Bellator/Viacom.
Alvarez fought the final bout of his Bellator contract last October. Bellator had the right to an exclusive negotiating period, but waived it so that Alvarez could field a contract offer from the UFC.
Bellator and its majority owner, Viacom, still retained matching rights, which they enacted. And that is where the dispute lies. Bellator and Viacom say they matched the UFC's offer, whereas Alvarez and his camp disagree.
Following lawsuits and failed attempts to come to a resolution, Alvarez has taken his fight public, leveling various complaints about his former employer via social media and in various interviews.
While much has been said by Alvarez to disparage his one-time employer, there are other fighters who feel differently than he does.
Among those who feel that Bellator/Viacom is getting a bad rap is former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal.
Lawal, who signed with Bellator and fellow Spike TV product TNA Wrestling following his release from Strikeforce, has nothing but positive things to say about his employers.
“They’re respectful and they just want you to go out there and fight,” he said. “I’m very satisfied with Bellator. I don’t ask for too much, and they treat me like a real king. I’m grateful I’m with Bellator.”
Lawal also points out that since falling under the Viacom banner, he’s had more opportunities to branch out and become known to more than just the hardcore MMA fans.
“I’ve been exposed to the fight fans for a long time, but getting the call to do things like walk the red carpet (at the MTV Movie Awards) and get exposed to new people has been great,” he said. “Even the pro wrestling piece (that aired on Spike TV), I have a lot more pro wrestling fans and people who want to help me with the pro wrestling part and that’s cool.
“I want to be able to branch out, and that’s what I feel I can do with Bellator, Spike TV and Viacom. I have the option of branching out and meeting new people. It’s great to be able to be in new environments.”
Lawal’s dealings have been positive not only with the companies themselves, he also has only good things to say about Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney.
“You’ll have a lot of guys who will go out there and do an interview and blast you, but then when they see you, they shake your hand and tell you that you’re a hell of a fighter. Bjorn isn’t like that,” said Lawal. “That’s why I respect him and like him.”
As far as the Alvarez situation goes, Lawal feels that, at the end of the day, it’s a business situation and it’s up to those involved and no one else to hash out those types of disputes.
“Contract disputes are part of sports,” said Lawal. “When you’re dealing with money, you’re going to have contract disputes here and there.
“Somebody’s going to be mad with the Eddie Alvarez thing; it’s either going to be Viacom or Eddie Alvarez. I hope they come to a good resolution.
“I hope Eddie gets the money he wants and what he deserves and I hope Viacom gets what they deserve. But I know it’s not going to happen, so I’m just going to sit back and wish them both the best.”
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