Morning Report: Bellator playing a dangerous public game by suing Eddie Alvarez

Bellator

Hours after Eddie Alvarez laid out his struggle with Bellator MMA for all to see, Strikeforce contender Pat Healy was still incredulous.

Healy eventually took to Twitter, where he posted this ominous thought, "Will anyone ever want to sign with Bellator other than a last resort after seeing the way they treat guys like [Eddie Alvarez] and [Tyson Nam]?"

Obviously it would be irresponsible to pick sides here. I'm not going to do that. At this early stage, everything about this unsettling conflict is strictly he said, she said. But Healy's words speak volumes about the dangerous game Bellator is playing right now, in the most public forum imaginable.

The issue of matching rights isn't new for Bellator -- remember Nam, Jonathan Brookins and Roger Hollett? But the thing is, professional fighters aren't some detached race of space aliens who live without access to current events. They read the same news everyone else does, from the same new outlets everyone else does, and surprise, some of them even talk to each other. The phrase all press is good press may be true in some sense, but it certainly does not apply here.

The reputation Bellator is building within the community with these continual, morally debatable stories cannot portend well for the future. Fighters will inherently take the side of their fellow fighters, and one has to wonder whether it's inevitable to see an up-and-coming prospect spurn Bellator because of this type of controversy. Alvarez basically appealed to that fact during yesterday's interview with The MMA Hour.

"I'm a fighter, guys," he pleaded. "You can believe a promoter or you can believe a fighter. I've never been anything but honest with everyone I've come across. I'm the most honest person you guys know. This [contract] is not a match."

Statements like that are telling, and given that the issue is far from resolved, it's almost a guarantee that it won't be the last time the credibility of the Bellator brass is put on blast. Like it or not, Alvarez suddenly finds himself in a strangely influential position because of the high-profile nature of this case. At some point, one has to wonder if the extra revenue Bellator gains from booking Alvarez twice a year is worth the continual P.R. hit it may find itself taking while this battle plays out publicly.

"I'm getting used to it," Alvarez said of being sued roughly 30 minutes after his settlement meeting fell apart. "If I do anything that they don't want me to do, I get a lawsuit. If I put a video out promoting myself, I get a lawsuit. If you've seen some text messages, and some things, you know, it would blow your mind. It would blow your mind. You, the fans, it would blow your mind."

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6 MUST-READ STORIES

Alvarez, Rebney clash over contract. Dana White said it was going to get ugly, and yep, it got ugly. Former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez is being sued by Bellator MMA after contract negotiations went profoundly awry. Alvarez alleges Bellator failed to match the UFC's offer, comparing the two contracts to 'fine dining' vs. McDonald's, while Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney strongly disagrees.

Fighters react to Alvarez/Rebney. Along with Pat Healy, Zuffa fighters Vinny Magalhaes, Derek Brunson and Benson Henderson were among those to throw in their two cents regarding Bellator's lawsuit against Eddie Alvarez. Though when it came to the UFC lightweight champ, Henderson seemed less than pleased to be earning significantly less than what the UFC offered a newcomer.

UFC buys LA Boxing gym chain. The UFC has acquired the popular LA Boxing gym chain and will immediately begin converting all branches into UFC gyms, promotion president Dana White announced at the New Media Expo yesterday in Las Vegas.

The MMA hour. Ariel Helwani returns with another jam-packed edition of The MMA Hour, featuring a lineup of Eddie Alvarez, Vitor Belfort, Ed Herman, Strikeforce CEO and founder Scott Coker, executive vice president of Showtime Sports Stephen Espinoza and our own Dave Meltzer.

UFC lists top-10 fights of 2012. UFC.com released their official list for 2012's 'Fight of the Year.' The top spot? UFC 155's co-main event, Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon.

Espinoza talks Strikeforce death. Executive vice president of Showtime Sports Stephen Espinoza reflected back on the last year of Strikeforce's operations, Showtime's "awkward" relationship with Zuffa, and the future of MMA on the premium network.

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MEDIA STEW

This is footage of Frankie Edgar's first fight, which of course took place at an underground competition in New York City. Now stop me when you've heard this before: He was a heavy underdog, and he broke a bone in his face. (Also, check out the headbutt at the 2:17 mark.)

(HT: Bloody Elbow)

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We had X-Arm. We had three-man fights. Hell, we even had that weird Russian thing. But this here, this may take the cake. I present to you, Footbrawl.

(HT: The UG)

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Today's Strikeforce rewind: Future hollywood starlet Gina Carano battled feared striker Cris "Cyborg" Santos for the inaugural Strikeforce women's featherweight belt back in 2009. The hotly-anticipated superfight smashed Showtime's ratings record, peaking with 856,000 viewers.

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What you can learn from Dana White's keynote speech at the New Media Expo: The importance of social media in business, the role of international expansion, and how Jon Jones acted like a little diva during the UFC 151 saga. Of course.

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Despite the fact that it completely ignores the existence of Ronda Rousey, this fan-made trailer for UFC 157 is extremely well done.

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#FREEEDDIE

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THIS

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THE 2013 FAN-VOTED JOBE AWARDS

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RUGGED INDEED

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NOT THE ONLY ONE

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JEBEDIAH WILL NOT BE PLEASED

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GOOD TIMES

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WHOA

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Monday, January 7, 2013):

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day comes fromcyborg73, who switches things up with: Why Rich "Ace" Franklin Belongs in the UFC Hall of Fame

Any follower of the UFC's history will have their personal picks as to who should be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. But what, exactly, is the criteria necessary for such an induction? Bear with me as I break it down in the case of Ace.

Longevity. When Franklin burst onto the scene in the UFC in 2003, he immediately made an impact by soundly defeating the very tough Evan Tanner. He would go on for the next nine years compiling an impressive win/loss record that, as of this writing, stands at 29-7-0 -1NC. He has competed in two weight classes, Middleweight and Light-Heavyweight. He also had a stint as a coach on Season 2 of the Ultimate Fighter. Although never known as a "box office draw", his drawing power did have some life to it, and today, at 38 years old, Franklin continues to remain in peak physical fighting condition, and is still one of the most well-rounded fighters in the UFC. He shows little, if any, signs of physically slowing down.

Former Title Holder. In 2005, barely five years into his career, Franklin captured the Middleweight title, and would go on to defend the belt successfully on two occasions against two worthy opponents, Nate Quarry and David Loiseau. Franklin reigned as champ for sixteen months, and had Anderson Silva not existed (we all know what happened from there), who knows just how long Franklin could have reigned as champion. There is nothing wrong with losing to Anderson. Everyone else has.

Resume of Opponents. Franklin has fought the who's who of opponents in his career, some of whom are either future Hall of Famers themselves, or are already in. Most notably, Franklin will forever be remembered as the man that ended the Hall of Fame career of Chuck Liddell via first round KO, and doing it with a broken arm sustained in the fight. He has also fought such legends as Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva (twice), Lyoto Machida (albeit outside of UFC), Ken Shamrock, Vitor Belfort (although losing via very controversial KO), Forrest Griffin, Cung Le and as mentioned earlier, Anderson Silva. I would highly doubt that the list will end there by the time Franklin calls it a career.

Model Employee. I could attribute this one to a number of factors. First, Franklin has never backed out of a fight due to injury or lack of preparation, and has also never failed to make weight for any fight. Most importantly, and I know that this next one has been pointed out repeatedly in the past, Franklin has, on three occasions (to the best of my knowledge) stepped in and took a fight as a last-minute replacement. Fighters like that are hard to come by, and Dana and the Fertittas will surely miss him when he is gone.

Whether or not the casual fan believes that Franklin is past his prime and should call it a career, his years of contributions to the UFC are undeniable. I truly believe that Rich "Ace" Franklin is a lock to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame upon his retirement, which I hope he is NOT ready for yet.

Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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