Can Eddie Alvarez afford to stay with the Bellator promotion?

Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez successfully defended his title this past weekend, winning via unanimous decision against Pat Curran. It was a bout where the champion won another one-sided affair against questionable competition for a top fighter. That’s the norm as of late, and Alvarez appears to be aware that he needs to make some changes to be considered the best. However, he has more goals to accomplish first. Alvarez recently spoke about his fighting future with Ariel Helwani and had this to say:

“I want to be someone so I have some sort of leverage,” Alvarez said Monday on The MMA Hour.“I don’t want to be the next disposable 155-pounder who can be thrown out the window if he has a loss or two. I want to make myself indispensable and make a name for myself before I ever negotiate with a company like [the UFC].”

“I can’t tell my three kids, ‘Hey, daddy’s going to take a shot and take a risk and take a paycut and hopefully I make it,” Alvarez said. “It’s got to be more than that for me. I got to secure myself and secure my family.

“I’m going to do the right thing to become No. 1,” he continued. “That’s one of my main concern, but it’s also to protect my financial security with my family too.”

It’s a tough situation for Alvarez for sure. Right now he’s ranked as one of the top lightweights in the world. However, he hasn’t beaten a ranked lightweight since taking out Tatsuya Kawajiri at DREAM 5 in July 2008. So that’s 7 fights in a row that he’s gone without fighting any of the top lightweights in the world. So just exactly what kind of leverage is he talking about? He has the following going against him:

-Zuffa has almost all of the top lightweights in the world under contract.

-He’s getting very little exposure on MTV2 with Bellator’s fairly poor ratings.

-He’s not a proven PPV draw.

-He’s getting paid a lot of money to beat guys that are not ranked anywhere near the top ten (would Zuffa be willing to equal what Bellator pays him?)

It’s pretty savvy of him to align himself in his current situation. The question is, can he get to the point where he can have the leverage he wants with the UFC? I don’t see how he can make himself indispensable when he has all of the above factors going against him. How can he make a name for himself when the Bellator viewer ratings are poor and he’s not beating the top guys?

I’m not a Alvarez hater, you can see where I have him ranked right here.

Now, Alvarez just turned 27 years old this past January, so he’s right in his prime. However, since he is the Bellator champion, it could prove difficult to ever negotiate with the UFC in terms of a contract unless he were to lose. However, in that case his stock would plummet and any leverage he thought he had would evaporate.

Not Indispensable.

I applaud him for taking care of his family, but there’s only one thing he can do if he really wants to be the best lightweight in the world. That means fighting the other best lightweights in the world. Along with that comes more exposure, better competition, more money, and more leverage.

All he would have to do is win.

It’s not entirely the same situation, but history could repeat itself with Alvarez going down the same path as Fedor Emelianenko. Can Alvarez afford to stay with Bellator, or would it be cool for him to get paid well while beating questionable competition the rest of his career?

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