Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney today fired back at allegations of former champion Eddie Alvarez that Bellator was hassling the fighter legally just to keep him from moving to the rival UFC and that the real fight was just two giant companies, Viacom and the UFC, battling to prove a point:
He's characterized this "battle" as one where he's a pawn between Viacom and, let's say, Zuffa, and that it's not really about what Bellator is; it's just about these larger parent companies. What is your response to his assessment of this battle?
I don't know that that's Ed's assessment. I'd be willing to guess that outside sources have put that quote-unquote 'assessment' into his head. But I will tell you this: every single decision, with regard to Ed matching the contract, the steps we've taken and the legal steps that have been taken, have been made directly from this office, from this CEO at Bellator. The decisions have not been made by Spike and they have not been made by Viacom. I'm sure you can imagine or conjecture a thousand different reasons why various parties would want to paint Viacom and/or Spike into this picture.
What Viacom and Spike have done is they've done an amazing, amazing job of contributing hundreds of millions of dollars into this great sport. And they've helped take it from a sport that nobody had heard of, and nobody had seen on television, and nobody was aware of to a sport where I believe that the world's greatest athletes can earn a great living in this sport, can support their families and can become crossover stars in this sport.
That's what Spike and Viacom have brought to the table, so to try to drag them in because Ed's getting information from other sources as to who he should try to paint with what kind of brush. If Ed wants to paint anybody with a brush, he should be painting me - as the CEO and chairman of Bellator - and Bellator, the company he signed with in 2008, took a six-figure check from, and signed an agreement with. That's who he should be painting. Anything else is completely disingenuous and positioning - it has nothing to do with where this real fight exists.
One of the things he said that caught my attention was that he said he wasn't even sure to what extent your role, as yay or nay, was involved here. You're directly challenging that - you're saying this idea that Viacom is pulling the strings and you're sort of just getting the news later on is false?
It's completely false. And I've sat down with Ed face to face and made it completely and utterly clear to him that the decisions, the movements, the steps we were taking and the position we were taking was a decision that I was making, and it was a decision I was making based on the contract he signed, based on the commitment we had made to him financially, based on the agreement he had executed, and there was no other party involved. There was no other party voicing an opinion, there was no other party saying "do this" or "do that." The decisions of this company on this matter have been made 120% by me and by Bellator. That's it - not by any other group or party.
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