–Kenny Rice

We all need someone. Romantically, professionally, socially or just a friend, it is close to impossible to be an island. Especially in this world of mass interactive media where news stories are generated by those making the news without need for a conventional outlet. Actually Twitter and Facebook are considered conventional means of reporting these days. Which is good and bad.

Eddie Alvarez, the talented lightweight who always, always makes for an entertaining fight needs Bellator. And Bellator, who in three years has established its brand as the second biggest in the MMA world, needs Alvarez. On this there is no debate. Alvarez is arguably their biggest name across their board and Bellator is the organization that has given him rise to a title and put him in a position of interest to the UFC.

But one word is sucking the life out of both the fighter and the group, “Material”. In one of the contracts offered to Alvarez it pops up, “material terms of the offer.” It doesn’t on another one. Alvarez sent copies of both to us at Inside MMA before his appearance a few weeks back. This one word is where ambiguity and legalese smother every other word in the proposed deal.

It seems from a layman’s view that the word “material” implies pay-per-view and other means of income aside from the standard pay of the fight and the bonus that might go with a win, knockout, etc. Alvarez contends that he would have gotten a cut of the all important PPV from the UFC but Bellator counters they had a first refusal if they met the terms, and in this case it appears that means bout/bonus payout only, and they met those terms.

What in the name of the late Warren Zevon is going on? Both sides have reached the stage of bringing in lawyers, guns and money and possibly a linguistic expert to dissect and further debate what is material about this word.

Here is how it shakes out for now: One of the best in his division regardless of organization, who averages around three fights a year, hasn’t fought since October 12, 2012. And no money is coming in. An organization that is still growing, has a sweet new TV deal, and can use all the star power it can generate, has one of its brightest on the sideline. The key in negotiations is compromise and neither appear ready or willing or for that matter even curious at the time of this writing.

Bellator should sit down once again, start from scratch with Alvarez. It would be beneficial on several fronts, beginning with public relations that shows they are not another organization that will abandon a fighter who helped them greatly over a simple phrasing of a contract. That matching a deal doesn’t always mean matching the whole deal. It would be a coup for them to show other fighters that down the road if something that might be more lucrative comes along, we are willing to talk. Talk, not just throw numbers and words back and forth. Because it is a no win situation as everyone can plainly see who has heard Alvarez via interview or a tweet.

Alvarez is in a tough spot, he needs to work to make money as do all of us. He can’t work right now. Rather than continue with holding on to that word “material” which is a correct and understandable argument on his part, maybe a change of tactic is now due. He can easily point out all the positive pub he brought to their barren table in 2009 with the Bellator 1. Alvarez was coming off a monster year where his fights with Jaochim Hansen and Tatsuya Kawajiri were each considered by experts to the the “fight of the year.” That’s how electric Eddie is and has been from winning the Bellator title to losing it and bouncing back strong. He’s a good man, a decent guy that deserves more than to be waited out by an employer. That should be his offensive now.

Nobody is winning otherwise it what has become a black eye in relations for the sport.

It is illegal, except in the states of Washington and Colorado. Even after it was made legal there, sports commission point out quickly it was not okay to use before participating. Such is the cloudy issue of marijuana in sports. The NBA went through this several years ago, other sports have suspended and or fined players for using. As UFC boss Dana White has said before it isn’t allowed in the game because it is not legal.

If this is redundant apparently it needs to be repeated over and over because some guys aren’t getting it. It has nothing to do with how harmful it is, or isn’t. Why alcohol is accepted and has such sponsorship power there would be a avalanche of TV networks leaving the sports business without them, as opposed to why marijuana isn’t acceptable. This isn’t pro or con but when a fighter loses $130,000 and gets a no contest in what would have been a big win, it is time to quit the debate of the right and wrong and deal with the now. Any fighter is one toke over the line in trying to fight this, no one wins.

Pat Healy is a tough fighter and from all indications a terrific guy. He even owned up that socially he had smoked a few weeks out before his fight with Jim Miller. And that moment of either peer pressure or lax in judgement has cost him dearly. He was not bucking the system, taking a stand, showing he was above the rules. That’s not Healy. He just messed up and this mistake should resonate with any fighter who is thinking about challenging the status quo or simply doesn’t think it through in the weeks leading up to a fight.

It has zero to do with should marijuana be accepted and legalized everywhere. It has everything to do with the zero tolerance policy of the UFC. It’s a rule, don’t follow it and there will be repercussions to pay, and pay big.


Fallon Fox, the transgender female, fights this weekend at CFA. The fight will be on AXSTV. If she wasn’t generating so much attention it is doubtful the network would give this show a second look. But since she is the first transgender fighter to publicly come out in MMA, there is attention and talk, for and against, on mainstream sportscasts as well as MMA websites. 

As the fight approaches the focus should be on her skills, what she does in the ring. The Florida commission, the CFA and her opponents know the story well and have accepted Fox. The debate should end for now. Fallon Fox, the fighter, is the story on Friday night.

He was a great wrestler in high school and who knows if MMA had been popular back then he might have thought about that instead of being a jockey. There are several jockeys who with weight restrictions were high school wrestlers and horse racing was their only option back then.

Whether you follow racing or not, the comeback of Gary Stevens has been one of the great sport stories of the year. Stevens has been my friend for decades and my NBC colleague on racing for the last few years. Knee problems and assorted injuries forced him into retirement seven years ago. Through incredibly hard work, a natural healing process of the joints and an undeniable determination, he returned to riding. Not just to ride again, but at age 50 to prove he could compete at the highest level.
“I’m not here for people to see me going around the track, I’m here to have my (winner’s circle) picture taken,” he laughed with that confidence that made him a Hall of Fame rider.
Saturday he guided long shot Oxbow to the upset of Orb to win the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore. In victory Stevens showed the things all sports fans appreciate–intelligence, experience and flat out guts. He took the lead and controlled the pace, opening up margins leisurely until it was difficult for late closing horse who had fallen so far back they couldn’t make up ground. It was reminiscent of a top fighter controlling cage action as Carlos Condit did against Nick Diaz, as George St. Pierre does against most everyone.
That is the essence of sports, to always keep the opponent guessing. Stevens ride was masterful, “stealing the race” in horse racing vernacular. It is doubtful a less polished rider would’ve guided Oxbow to the win.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the top pick in the NBA draft. Didn’t the Cavs have the best player on the planet at one time? That didn’t end so well.
If the Kings repeat as Stanley Cup champs it would make Inside MMA producer, and former talented hockey player in his own right Donovan Tar, very happy. Good luck L.A.

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Watch Kenny Rice along with Bas Rutten LIVE every Friday night on Inside MMA, and check out Kenny’s new book “Not Hit Yet” an insider look at the MMA world, available at Amazon now

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