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Bjorn Rebney calls Dana White’s comments on Bellator “very, very hypocritical”

When UFC President Dana White was asked about Bellator’s business practices over the weekend he took the opportunity to blast the organization, labeling their approach to signing fighters as “borderline criminal” among other unsavory things. White’s anger related specifically to a situation involving bantamweight Tyson Nam who was pursued by the UFC but unable to sign based on a pre-existing deal with Bellator. Frustrating White, Nam had been released by the company but was held up by a “right to match” clause tying him up for the next year.

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney caught wind of White’s comments and didn’t dispute the allegations as far as his promotion possessing the ability to match outside offers even if a competitor has been cut. In fact, he figured White would be familiar with the practice considering Zuffa invoked it during negotiations with former Strikeforce champion Muhammed Lawal.

“It’s a very, very hypocritical statement,” said Rebney on The MMA Hour of White’s rant on Bellator’s behavior. “We had to go through the exact same process with Zuffa when we signed ‘King Mo.’”

“Zuffa released ‘King Mo’ Lawal on March 27, 2012. They went public with their release, they put it up on their own website, on, Dana confirmed the release of ‘King Mo’ to the media on the exact same day, and then in April, when Bellator looked to sign ‘King Mo,’ we had to submit our full contract to Zuffa,” elaborated Rebney. “We sent it certified mail to their attorneys. Then we had to wait 14 full business days, which is typically 20-to-21 days in total, for them to decide if they were going to match or not going to match — which thankfully they didn’t, and we ended up with one of the most exciting and entertaining light heavyweights in the world — but, this is, to the letter, the exact same process.”

Making sure to keep things as professional as possible, Rebney wrapped things up by sugarcoating his final bit of criticism.

“It’s one thing to call somebody out on doing something. But when you follow the exact same process, the veracity of the comments have to be taken in context with what the real world dictates,” he concluded.

Though the relationship between the UFC and Bellator has always been one of relative respect, given the latest developments it appears things could be changing come 2013, especially with Bellator heading to Spike TV in January.


  • Rece Rock says:

    King Mo wasn’t going to lose income by being shelved for a 2 or 3 extra weeks he was hurt and suspended… He was in mma purgatory regardless of contract negotiations.

    Also, King Mo isn’t a bottom of the card talent… If Zuffa took a minute to think about matching a contract of a fighter that can possibly be an earner you can’t blame them.

    Tyson Nam & Roger Hollett are mid to low card guys looking to earn a living and were actively ready to fight… King Mo was a semi star that was suspended when popped for PEDs and also was battling illness at the time…it was his fault for losing any potential income.

    For Mo it wasn’t a contract thing, it was a suspended for PEDs thing.

    Bjorn give me a better example.

  • Lord Faust says:

    Moh’s situation was vastly different, as Rece notes. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, and I was none too impressed with Bjorn’s non-answers when Helwani was grilling him.

    I like Bellator and really hope they do well, provided they start respecting their fighters a bit more.

  • MCM says:

    So…..theoretically, Nam could be fighting for the UFC Halloween if it only takes 21 days to sign match a contract. Dana could sign him to a 4 fight 1 year contract and Bellator would be unable to match that. So how is Bellator able to tie Nam up till next year? I think Bjorn may be trying to blow the proverbial smoke up our collective asses.

  • JBAR says:

    The way I read it is that for a period of 1 year the releasing company has the opportunity to match any offer made to a fighter and keep them.

    If the Zuffa made an offer and Bellator did not match it then Zuffa would be able to sign the fighter. If Bellator chose to match the offer then They would owe the fighter fights according to the deal signed. It is a right to match not a right to refuse.

    Unless I am missing something I do not see a negative to the fighter. He get’s a deal either way at the value that is being offered.

  • Lord Faust says:

    The problem with Bellator, though, is that they’ve been invoking their match rights in situations where they’ve let guys go, or kept them on the shelf without offering fights. Tyson Nam was scratched from two Bellator tournaments, then they let him go, so he was booked to be squashed by Dantas in Brazil; after Nam KO’ed Dantas, suddenly Bellator is offering to match his deal — despite never using him previously.

  • Lord Faust says:

    To further explain what I mean: the problem isn’t that these guys don’t end up with a contract, it’s that they also need fights to actually get paid.

  • Planterz says:

    I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know for certain, but Zuffa probably went through all that legal crap because they have to. It’s not simply a matter of saying “we’re not matching the contract”, they have to do all the legal paperwork to make it official, or they could be sued for breach of contract if something goes awry


    Bjorn needs some help puliing that stick out of his a!#-GIKE MOLDY in the hizzle for shizzle better blow the whistle


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