UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The saga between light heavyweight contender Attila Vegh and Bellator over whether or not Vegh was being replaced for his upcoming bout with Emanuel Newton due to an injury or a "business decision" was nothing more than a miscommunication, according to Bellator's CEO Bjorn Rebney.
Vegh was slated to fight Newton at Bellator 106 in Long Beach, Calif., which will mark Bellator's foray into the pay-per-view market. Things got murky when he was replaced with Muhammed Lawal, who was knocked out by Newton back in July 2012 in his promotional debut. Lawal, of course, has more star power than Vegh, and a rematch with Newton translates into better intrigue, especially with the interim belt hanging in the balance.
So what really happened? According to Bellator's CEO Bjorn Rebney, who spoke to MMA Fighting on Saturday night, the report that came out on a Polish MMA web site in which Vegh said he wasn't injured was misinterpreted.
"What honest to God happened with Attila Vegh is, Attila came to us and said, 'I'm injured, here's the medical report," Rebney said. "And we went back to him and said, 'great, tell us when you're off the injury because we've got to do the Newton fight.' Then Attila came back to us as we started to schedule the Newton fight, which we wanted to do in July, he said I can't go in July. Because we wanted to do the finalization of the tournament in addition to the Newton fight against Vegh, but couldn't do it.
"Then we waited until mid-August, and said look, we've got to start planning the fall schedule. You've either got to say to us, 'I'm in," and give us a date in October or November. But if you're still ambiguous and can't give us a date we've got to schedule something and then you'll get to fight the winner of the interim fight. And he said, 'I understand it's a business, schedule something because I can't give you a date right now.' So we did.
"Vegh called us and said, 'I was quoted out of context,' and that he said 'I understand it's a business, people want to see that fight, so they'll do it now.' And people construed it to mean he was saying he was bypassed to step aside. I've got a seven-page addendum to his contract that says, I'm injured, here's the medical report, and I understand I'm injured."
Rebney says the issue is cleared up, and that him and Vegh are as friendly as they've ever been. Vegh is now being pegged to fight the winner of Newton vs. Lawal in January.
"Look, everybody likes intrigue and to say, 'oh my god, what did he do,'" Rebney said. "Honestly, he couldn't say yes. And it was okay, there was no problem with it. He actually asked us for some money and said, 'hey, can you cover me during this period because I'm not going to be able to fight,' and I said, 'sure.' It was a lot less odd and contrived than it sounded. Things are great between us."