Eddie Alvarez can no longer hold back. The Philadelphia native is a working-class, heart-on-his-sleeve sort of guy, one whose word is his bond.
So as his legal dispute with Bellator drags on, Alvarez can't disguise his thoughts on the way he feels his past -- and perhaps future -- employer has been playing.
"If they're going to kick me in the balls," Alvarez said, "Eventually I'm going to kick them in the balls back."
By now, MMA fans are familiar with the case of the former Bellator lightweight champion. Late last year, Alvarez fielded a contract offer from the UFC during a period in which Bellator retained matching rights. Bellator believed they matched the contract; Alvarez's camp disagreed. After recent settlement talks failed, the two sides lawsuits' against one another will proceed.
Alavarez made an at-times-explosive appearance on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, breaking a silence of several weeks. Perhaps the biggest realization Alvarez has made in his ongoing case is that he's simply a pawn in tug-of-war between two large corporations: Viacom, the television conglomerate which is Bellator's majority owner, and Zuffa, UFC's parent company.
"Pardon my French, this is a big dick-swinging contest between two big companies," Alvarez said. "I have nothing to do with it."
Still, the bulk of Alvarez's venom is directed toward Bellator's parent company. The way he sees it, the fix was in from the beginning.
"I'm trying to do everything the right way, and it seems like for Spike and Viacom, they are getting in the way," Alvarez said. "I believe they had every intention of doing this anyway. It becomes clear to me that they had every intention of blocking me from going to UFC from the very beginning."
In Alvarez's mind, settlement talks with Bellator broke down because he felt Bellator wouldn't match the UFC's offer, which included a title shot and guaranteed pay-per-view slots.
"What I was willing to settle on, believe me, was nothing compared to what I would have gotten in the UFC," Alvarez said. "Believe me, I'm not being unreasonable. I'm being super fair. ... They want the [Michael] Chandler fight, that's what they want, they want me and Mike Chandler. But they want me and Mike Chandler for nothing. They want it for free. It's unbelievable. I said hey man, I'll give you the fight, I'll give you what you want, just let me go. It's so frustrating man, it's so frustrating. ... I'll do a three-round fight. I don't care about being their champion, it's way beyond that. I could care less. We could do it a three-round fight, I fought a lot of non-title fights. I'll do a non-title fight. It doesn't matter at this point."
Later, Alvarez added "I was offered a [Georges St-Pierre] card and Chael Sonnen card. In your professional opinion, do you think me and Mike Chandler would sell the same amount of PPVs?"
As Alvarez's contractual situation played out, Bellator made a change of direction in their title shot structure, essentially saying they would no longer strictly follow their self-imposedcedict that a fighter must win a tournament in order to earn a title shot, and would make exceptions when warranted.
Alvarez believes this change came about specifically because of his situation, since Alvarez was previously told he'd have to go through a tournament in order to get another crack at Chandler, who defeated him for the Bellator lightweight title.
"When the UFC sent their contract offer over to fight their champion, Ben Henderson, Bellator right away changed structure of their whole organization," Alvarez said. "Now you don't have to go into a tournament to fight a champion. Was that just a coincidence or was it because UFC put it in my contract that I got to fight their champion? So right away, you're allowed to fight the [Bellator] champion.
"I've been asking for the rematch since the fight happened, to fight Mike Chandler and get the rematch. They said no, no, no, I had to go through the tournmant, you had to go to the tournament first."
A key part of Alvarez's case is based on a claim that Bellator attempted a change in contractual language when they granted him an early release from his contract, one which would have changed Bellator's obligation from matching "all terms" of a competing contract offer to "all material terms," one which creates a legal gray area.
"They can't match FOX, they can't match pay-per-view, they can't match the opportunity and the money I was going to be given," he said. "They can't, or else they would have never had to change it, couldn't get contract the way it was.
"They sent the new [clause] to my management," said Alvarez, "But they sent the old one to me that said ‘all terms,' ... You can't change the contract in the middle of the contract. If you're playing unfair, you're playing unfair. I'm trying to play by the rules. They're lying to the judge, they're changing the contract, I can't play that game. They're not leaving me any choice. If they're going to kick me in the balls, eventually I'm going to kick them in the balls back."
So that's where things stand in the Alvarez case, which is currently in the discovery phase. After all this, Alvarez, who recently sold an investment property and is in the process of a permanent move to Florida, Alvarez says he'd still fight for Bellator if that's how things shake out.
"Who else do I work for?" he said. If they're all the same, you work for the person who's paying you the most. You work for the person who offers the most benefits, that's it. Every fighter out here needs to worry about yourself. If all them were trying to do this and do that, and try to do the best, then you have to work for the guys who offers you the most. You really don't have a choice."