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MMA promoter and fighter in employment contract dispute

Employment contracts are often signed between people with talent and their promotion companies. In this way, the actor, artist, or sports figure can receive exposure in large venues to huge audiences. At the same time, a big name talent can bring in major dollars for the promotion company. Ideally, the employment contract results in a win-win situation for both parties. However, if the relationship sours, an employment contract that is not crystal clear can result in complicated business litigation.

Bellator, a company that promotes mixed martial arts, is currently engaged in a lawsuit with Eddie Alvarez, formerly one of its popular fighters and likely soon to be a resident of Florida. The parties agree that Alvarez’s contract with Bellator expired last fall which allowed Alvarez to enter into negotiations with a competing promotor, the UFC. The parties also concur that Alvarez’s contract contains a match clause. The match clause requires Alvarez to stay with Bellator if it matches the UFC’s offer. 

However, the parties are now angrily trading barbs about the precise meaning of the match clause. Bellator argues that it did match the UFC’s offer, but Alvarez disagrees. According to Alvarez, Bellator’s offer failed to include extra money for items such a pay-per-view fights and potentially a title match. Alvarez further alleges that Bellator tried to engage in trickery to change the wording of the match clause.

Employers often must contend with disgruntled employees who disagree about the meaning of terms in their employment contracts. In many cases, the parties can work out their differences, but occasionally a dispute can get heated to the point where employment litigation is the only option. In such a case, an attorney can counsel an employer regarding the best strategy to pursue in court proceedings.

Source: MMA Junkie, “Bellator boss Rebney: Eddie Alvarez should 'stop saying things that aren't true'”, Steven Marrocco and John Morgan, May 10, 2013

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