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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?

  • AbdulHassid

    he can afford to stay there. he’s making six figures. he’s training with frankie edgar and he’s ruling the division outside the ufc. i respect his willingness to stay with bellator and add legitimacy to what they are doing.

  • http://www.prommanow.com Kelvin Hunt

    Abdul..thanks for posting..the thing is…there basically is no division outside the UFC…when I say afford..I’m speaking about more than money…I’m talking about when the fans began to call him out for not fighting the best competition available..

    It’s a bit different than Fedor…Fedor was the best HW for a time…Alvarez has been considered a top LW..but never THE top LW…but he’ll start slipping in the rankings if he doesn’t find some credible opponents…then what leverage will he have 2 years from now and he’s beaten nobody? Can he afford to stay with Bellator that long?

    I guess a even better question is…can Bellator survive that long?

  • edub

    I think your last question proves your point. Bellator is really the last viable option for top talent. However, while some fans will drop him for not competing against the, you and I know there will still be a huge following for him in the online community just because he’s NOT with the UFC. There the same ones who claim the 90% of the top tier talent in MMA (The UFC) should compete outside of their promotion just to go up against the other 10%.

  • http://www.prommanow.com John Buhl

    “there basically is no division outside the UFC”

    Patricky Pitbull Freire disagrees with you, sir! I bid you good day!

  • http://prommanow.com Kelvin Hunt

    I love Patricky…but he hasn’t beaten anyone yet…and until he does…well…there’s nothing else to say…lol

  • RJ

    Patricky hasn’t beaten anyone yet? I guess Razor Rob & Toby Imada are complete garbage in your book.
    They’re quality LW’s.

    Seriously dude your entire piece just reeks of the belief if you’re not in the UFC you’re garbage.

    Fact is Alvarez has beaten one quality opponent after the other, and the rankings you speak of are completely meaningless. They’re all someone’s biased opinion.
    They mean nothing.

    Worst thing Alvarez could do would be to leave Bellator.

    UFC had their chance anyway.
    Eddie was at the TUF 2 tryouts and the keen talent eye for Zuffa bypassed him and he didn’t make the show. He was an alternate wtf.

  • http://www.prommanow.com John Buhl

    Not just about who he’s beaten, but how. He knocked out a reinvigorated-looking Razor Rob at his own game and knocked Imada out silly. He also has a win over Joao Paulo, a tough Brazilian dude who is the only guy that’s beaten Renan Barao out of Nova Uniao…admittedly Barao’s moved down in weight since then, but Patricky’s resume is pretty strong for a prospect with his experience. If anything, it highlights Alvarez main problem in Bellator; he’s fighting really tough opposition but won’t get the credit for it because more mainstream types write off his opponents simply because they’ve never heard of them. Luckily he’s getting paid well for it.

  • http://www.prommanow.com Kelvin Hunt

    @RJ…they are not completely garbage..please show..but they are not exactly setting the world on fire either..McCullough is 4-4 in his last eight with the wins coming against nobody near the top guys..I mean he beat Kit Cope to win the WEC lightweight title…

    There’s a big differnce between quality and top guys.

    The worst thing he could do is leave Bellator? Depends on how he performed IF he went to the UFC…thanks for reading…

    @John…you can say McCullough is invigorated allday…the guy is about to be 34 years old…can’t take a punch like he could 3-4 years ago and is still fairly a striker with no submission game

    Imada was a huge win for Patricky..but facts are…Imada’s biggest win is over who?

    I love Eddie and Patricky…hell..I have Eddie as #4 in the world…but his biggest win is over Kawajiri in 2008…there is no debating that…in due time Patricky has the talent to be a top guy I believe…but you can’t just put him there without him beating the top guys…of course he has to have that opportunity…but until then…it is what it is.

  • http://www.prommanow.com John Buhl

    “I mean he beat Kit Cope to win the WEC lightweight title”

    True. At the same time, Kenny Florian beat Cope and then Sam Stout and got a UFC title shot. Times change. Turns out Kenny is a damn good fighter, but obviously doing the same thing now wouldn’t have anywhere near the same result. I mean, you keep bringing up the Kawajiri win, but Eddie dismantled Roger Huerta — a guy that took Florian the distance, lost a close one to Maynard, and beat Guida — and submitted Josh Neer. Neer didn’t get stopped by anyone at lightweight in the UFC. He’s not an easy fight for anyone. Yes, we could argue all day about who would beat who when and why, and it’d be nice to see Alvarez fight the biggest name guys eventually, but you can’t just look at names. The big names change and can gain or lose value over time. You have to watch the fights and look at how talented these guys are. If you want to look at Curran’s resume and call him questionable, that’s fine. But if you watch him fight Alvarez and think he’s questionable after the fact, I’d respectfully and vociferously disagree. I’m not going to judge what a win over Patricky — if that fight happens — would mean for Alvarez until the fight takes place and I can watch it. You and most everyone else has Alvarez in the top 5 right now, so what we do know right now is that being with Bellator the past two years hasn’t hurt him. And Alvarez’s comments don’t suggest anything other than he’s happy to finish up his current contract. I don’t expect him to re-sign with them a few fights down the road whenever. If he does, then we could probably have this debate. You make some valid points, but I think you’re being a bit excessive with some of your adjectives here.

  • http://www.prommanow.com Kelvin Hunt

    What I want to know is…how many more fights does Alvarez have on his current contract…and is there an automatic extension since he’s a champ, etc…I’ve heard that the contract Alvarez has may be different than the standard one Bellator offers…so would he have to play the waiting game once his contract is over or what?

  • edub

    -Eddie staying with Bellator hasn’t hurt him in the rankings. But it was never really going to. Being in Bellator doesn’t test him, and the fact that he has stayed in the top 5 for a while doesnt really surprise me. He hasn’t fought anybody at the skill level to move him from that spot since competing in Dream.

    -Roger Huerta was a barely a top 15 fighter by the time he fought Eddie. He lost 3 out of his last 4 and had no where near the confidence level he had when he was on a tear beating up on journeyman in the UFC. The best two opponents he fought he lost to. The only way you can call the win over Roger great for Eddie is if you excuse the fact that he had been figured out as a very flawed fighter prior to their competing.

    -Josh Neer was never finished in the UFC at 155. However, he never fought anywhere near the competition Eddie brings to the table there either. We’re talking about another guy who was 1-3 in his last 4 fights with the promotion.

    -Pat Curran has become an OK fighter. But that’s all he is, ok. He lucked out to get a decision in a win against the career journeyman Toby Imada. Before that he beat Roger in a close scrap, and ultimate hype job Mike Ricci. He’s undersized for 155 and although he packs some power his lack of size and skill set will give him losses to anytrue top 15 fighter. He’ll probably spend his career as a borderline top 25 fighter.

    Eddie is fine what he’s doing right now. He’s making good money fighting inferior competition. I don’t have a problem with it until people start trying to call him the best in the world. I think he knows he’ll have to move to the UFC before that happens.

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