Looks like the animosity between Bellator and Ben Askren is a two-way street.
At least if Eddie Alvarez has anything to say about it. In a video interview with MMA reporter Ariel Helwani posted Friday to MMAFighting.com, Alvarez, Bellator's reigning lightweight champ, had some sharp words for Askren, who abdicated his Bellator welterweight belt (and torched many a bridge) when he bolted for Asia's One FC promotion in December.
In particular, Alvarez expressed frustration over comments Askren had made in late summer about Alvarez's Bellator contract, and the manner in which both sides handled the sometimes acrimonious negotiations.
"Ben was very opinionated about how my situation was dealt with, although he had no clue about my situation," Alvarez said. "Yeah, he annoyed me."
In mid-November, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney released Askren (12-0) from his contract. Many assumed the champ would land in the UFC and face top-flight competition right off the bat, but the UFC declined to pull the trigger. Earlier in the year, Alvarez resolved a protracted contract battle with Bellator, which had refused to release him.
Alvarez (25-3) went on to re-sign with and fight for Bellator, recapturing the lightweight belt from Michael Chandler in November. Soon after that, Askren was released and then in Asia, but not before sounding off on the situation with his trademark frankness and acerbic humor. Askren said his failure to land in the UFC may have been partially due to the Alvarez situation, among other factors
The comments that really seemed to needle Alvarez, though, came in a September interview with MMAJunkie.com, during which Askren strongly hinted he thought Alvarez was greedy for dragging out the Bellator contract battle.
"That was kind of one thing I was shocked about Eddie. He wanted to go to court and fight about it," Askren said. "It’s like, ‘Dude, you’re going to get almost $400,000 for your first fight. There’s some people that work every day for $8 an hour. You’re bitching about $400,000 for a fight? Dude, you’re really not that hard up, Go work for $8 an hour at Lowe’s or taking out the trash and then complain about your life.’"
The comments clearly didn't sit well with Alvarez, as evidenced by the fact that he addressed them four months after the fact.
"He had an uneducated opinion on how much money I should make," Alvarez told Helwani. "He [thought he] knew how much I should ask for. He said something like, 'People are making $8 an hour,' so I should just take the money and run.'"
At least for the moment, it appears Alvarez believes he won the war. When asked about Askren winding up half a world away in One FC rather than in the UFC or back with Bellator, Alvarez couldn't resist one final verbal jab:
"Maybe he should have shut up."