A lot has been said recently about Bellator Fighting Championships in the wake of former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez's pending trial with the company over his contract.
Alvarez has done a series of interviews over the past week talking about the lawsuit and painting the promotion in an unfavorable light. The situation stems from Alvarez, who became a restricted free agent of sorts after his last fight with the promotion, receiving a substantial contract offer from the UFC. Bellator then matched it within the rights it had in his original contract.
Alvarez and his lawyers contend that Bellator cannot match the UFC's offer due to clauses added for potential pay-per-view bonuses and other perks that come along with fighting in the Octagon.
Throughout the ordeal, Bellator executives have stayed quiet, waiting for the trial to begin and not playing into the court of public opinion.
However, some of the promotion's fighters haven't been as silent about Bellator taking a public beating over the Alvarez situation. They perceive only one side of the story is being told.
Bellator middleweight Brian Rogers has been with Bellator for six fights and a couple of tournaments, and while he's not professing to know the details of Alvarez's case, he is quick to point out everything the organization has done for him in his career.
"For me it's been a dream come true. I've got a lot of awesome opportunities brought to me from Bellator," Rogers told Bleacher Report. "To fight on a big stage and to fight on Spike is outstanding. I've had nothing but pleasure working with Sam Caplan, Bjorn Rebney and Zach Light since Day 1. It's been good, I wouldn't trade it.
"I've always been treated extremely well and never really felt like an employee. I never felt like a piece of meat as a fighter."
Rogers admits he is a huge fan of Alvarez inside the cage and believes deep down there's much more to this situation than what's being reported in interviews.
"Let me first say I like Eddie Alvarez a ton. I've only got to meet him a handful of times, I saw him in April at the Bellator season finale and hung out with him at the club a little bit afterwards. I'm an Eddie Alvarez fan. He's a cool and good dude. A lot of it seems to come out of right field and I think it's a lot of frustration," Rogers stated. "I'm kind of surprised how this whole thing has developed. I'm kind of shocked just reading it. I'm just surprised by the whole thing.
"I don't know if this is how he really feels or his attorneys are advising him to say this or Zuffa's advising him to say this or what the deal is, but it's just the exact opposite from any experience of anyone I've known that's had with Bellator."
At this point, Alvarez has made his desire to fight in the UFC clear, and Rogers isn't sure if that's what's driving this legal battle. Fighting in the UFC is a dream for a lot of mixed martial artists, and Alvarez may be no different.
"I think he wants to have that on his resume when it's all said and done. I think a lot of people, not just Eddie, but I think a lot of fighters feel they're not complete unless they have fought in the UFC," Rogers said. "I fight for money and the love of the sport. It sounds like Bellator has matched and agreed to do a lot of things and add a lot of bonuses to help match the UFC's deal. So it seems like it's even. From what I've read, and I'm outside the box, but it seems like Bellator's putting up a lot of up front cash bonuses to even it up. I may be wrong, but I think he just wants that. He's been in Japan, he's fought for Bellator and that's what he wants, but at the end of the day contracts are contracts."
Since coming to Bellator in 2011, Rogers says his experience has been nothing but positive. The promotion has afforded him the ability to train full time and give up his previous job as a teacher. Bellator has also put him in the position to fight in the middleweight tournament on a couple of occasions, and after re-upping with the promotion on a new contract, he has no plans of leaving anytime soon.
"They've provided me with a lot of opportunities. I'm able to train and fight full time. They're doing a lot of good for guys and putting a lot of money in guys' pockets," Rogers said about Bellator. "I'm going to be fighting this summer, I've got an opportunity to fight my way into a tournament and then get in that tournament and finish it this time."
Rogers knows it's not his job to defend Bellator, but the recent negative reactions have rubbed him the wrong way. If Alvarez is the case of one unhappy fighter, Rogers is more than willing to represent one of the truly satisfied competitors under the Bellator umbrella.
"I mean you can't judge by one situation," Rogers said. "Hector (Lombard) got out of there, but Hector's contract might have been different than Eddie's. They've honestly been really good and really fair to me. I go to a lot of fights and I talk to a lot of guys from different organizations, and I just don't know anyone that's had anything bad to say about them. I hope people aren't really tearing down Bellator. They're still giving guys an opportunity to fight and do what they love."
Because Alvarez's situation has now turned into a legal case that will likely land in a trial later this year, Rogers is aware that both sides are going to paint a picture where they look like they are right and the other side is wrong.
The real story is never quite that simple.
"When there's two stories," Rogers commented, "the truth lies somewhere in the middle."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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