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The Truth About Eddie Alvarez (Update)

On Saturday night, Bellator fed its top lightweight contender to a champ who is so far above the competition, it’s considered a “poor showing” when he only dominates for five straight rounds. But such is the plight of Eddie Alvarez, who, in slaughtering UFC vets and DREAM up-and-comers, has set the bar for himself so high, when he doesn’t murder someone it’s allegedly a sure sign he’s on the decline. Well, here’s the news for the folks out there in Haterland: Alvarez – touted by Bellator honcho Bjorn Rebney as the best 155-pound fighter in the world but described more accurately by himself as a resident of the top five – is pure badass. One of the most bad of the bad. And setting aside the fact that when a challenger does nothing but shell up like a turtle for most of a fight it becomes nigh impossible to knock the young buck out, one must realize that in MMA, lasting reputations aren’t made with just one bout. They’re made with repeated displays of fistic heroics. So for those out there who think that Alvarez’s lack of time in the UFC is a sure indication that he sucks, MMA Convert has put together this handy-dandy list for you, detailing the myriad ways that this Bellator champ has established himself as one elite mofo.

– Alvarez debuted in 2003 in the Northeast’s regional circuit, and with the Philadelphia native’s wrestling and the sticks of dynamite he smuggled in his gloves, he was practically untouchable. More notable, though, was his ability to pack hundreds of rabid supporters into venues. This made him every promoter’s dream, and it laid the groundwork for a journey that led him far afield from the economic path fighters usually take.

– His winning ways and ungodly fanbase made Alvarez the perfect cornerstone for promotions looking to break out onto the national stage. The Mixed Fighting Championship was the first to take advantage of all the rising star offered, and when BodogFIGHT formed, Alvarez became the center of its universe.

– When Dana White called for open tryouts for TUF 2 in New York City, Alvarez showed up and shined. He was later flown out to Las Vegas and kept in a hotel during filming, an alternate that ultimately wasn’t used.

– Alvarez participated in DREAM’s 2008 lightweight grand prix, competing in what, at the time, was considered to be one of the toughest selections of lower-weight fighters assembled. The American crushed Andre Amade in the opening round, defeated the legendary Joachim Hansen, and demolished the extremely dangerous Tatsuya Kawajiri. Unfortunately, the doctors wouldn’t clear Alvarez for the tournament finals due to damage to his eye, so Hansen took his place in the finals. And Hansen won.

– Alvarez has lost only twice. The first was during the Philly star’s time at welterweight, and it was against a much bigger Nick Thompson. The second was a loss via heelhook to the always-crafty Shinya Aoki. Since then, no one has even come close.

– Alvarez breezed through Bellator’s inaugural lightweight tournament, and has remained undefeated. And his complete and total handling of UFC vets Roger Huerta and Josh Neer are considered things of beauty by fans of unbridled beatdowns the world over.

– Why hasn’t Alvarez fought in the Octagon? It’s funny you should ask. Consider this: Alvarez, thanks to his status as draw and his knack for finding the “W” in thrilling fashion, has earned for himself paychecks on par with (if not exceeding) those of the UFC’s top moneymakers. Years ago, when Alvarez was a burdgeoning star and the “Superbowl of Mixed Martial Arts” was only offering a base salary of $2,000 to show and $2,000 to win to newcomers, Alvarez was already taking home many times that. Why take a pay cut? For someone of Alvarez’s status and worth, it doesn’t make sense for him to go elsewhere. After all, if someone wants a crack at one of the world’s best lightweights, they’ll come to him.

Update (Steve): Changes were made to the final paragraph to add clarification regarding UFC pay. We didn’t mean to insinuate the UFC only offered Eddie Alvarez $2k/$2k in recent times or even that they offered him that in years prior. We were just illustrating the baseline when Eddie was a relative unknown, but making decent money elsewhere. We apologize for the confusion.

  • The Jester

    There is literally no way in the world that if the UFC actually went after Alvarez they offered him that little. That is just ridiculous. Rookies making their debut on a TUF Finale make $8,000 in a loss. Where did you get that information? Absolutely no way it’s even close to true.

    • sam_snee

      the article says “years ago…..2,000.” not now.

      • Steve Barry

        That wasn’t originally clear when the story was first posted. As the update says, Jim added clarification.

  • mmafan559

    yea jester is right i mean c’mon are you serious 2,000?..this has got to be a joke

    • The Jester

      I looked up all the reported UFC salaries over the last two years. There were maybe a handful of fighters who made $3,000-$4,000 and they were complete no names and made that little in loss’s. MAYBE 4 or 5 guys over two years. No way in the world the UFC offered him $2,000. Ridiculous.

  • Steve Barry

    Guys, I don’t *think* Jim meant the UFC only offered Eddie $2,000/$2,000 anytime recently or in the past couple years for that matter because that would be absurd, but I have asked him to clarify so there isn’t any question. We’ll get this straightened out in the morning.

  • jim genia

    Hey, sorry about the confusion. I edited the piece to clarify that 2K/2K was the UFC’s starting salary from years ago. Current UFC starting salary is actually 6K/6K (as per Joe Silva). And no, no way would the UFC ever offer Eddie Alvarez their base starting salary, as he’s always been worth more than that. But, given that he is managed by Monte Cox – one of the best agents in the business – Alvarez’s paychecks in BodogFIGHT, ShowXC, DREAM and Bellator (and the fact that the contracts have been less restrictive) have made jumping into the UFC not all that appealing.

  • The Jester

    I mean with some of the names that have come from other organizations into the UFC and seeing what others have made there is no reason to think that he couldn’t easily get a base salary of like $50,000. Nevermind a win bonus or any other kind of bonus that would equal several times that. Plus any sponsors and PPV residuals.

    I really think the whole “I don’t wanna take a ‘pay cut’ because of my family” line is a cop-out. If you think you’re one of the best in the world (like your boss thinks) you should want to fight the best and prove that you’re the best.

  • Matt Silliman

    Jim are you by chance friends with Eddie or is he one of your favorite fighters? You seem to speak very highly of him every time his name comes up. I dont think that’s a bad thing because I talk to the way about my favorite fighters. However, I can’t be expected to believe that Bellator can out bid Eddie if he is truly worth the money. Personally, I think he has the tools to be a UFC champion and make a ton of money. It’s a shame that Eddie doesn’t have the same faith in himself. It’s not gambling if you truly are that good. The reality is, people go to Bellator or SF to build up their resume to get in to the UFC. That’s where true fighters want to be to prove they are the best. But you can’t hate Eddie for taking the safe road. Does anyone even know how much he makes? Doesn’t some of that get released?

  • jim genia

    I am friends with Eddie Alvarez like I am friends with most other fighters – which is to say, when we see each other we ask how the kids are doing and make small talk. However, I do think highly of him as a fighter, and that’s based on his accomplishments. Nothing more.

    As for the UFC being outbid by another promotion – that happens all the time. Remember, a contract isn’t just about money. There’s a ton of clauses in there as well, and when a fighter signs a UFC contract (or a Bellator contract), they’re giving up all sorts of rights (to their likeness, to their video game image, to be able to choose their own sponsors, etc.). Also, the discretionary bonuses fighters sometimes get are discretionary and at the whim of the UFC brass, so you can’t count on those if you have mortgage payments, and only a select few on the UFC roster get pay-per-view percentage points, so you can’t count on that either. Keep in mind that there are usually clauses in a UFC contract about stepping up in pay for each win, the UFC being able to cut you if you lose – I could go on and on, but I won’t. I’ll just say that Alvarez chooses to fight where he does because it makes the most sense to him. Don’t forget that he’s said many times that the fact that he has three kids and a wife to feed colors his decision. You can’t fault a man for that.

    As for his salary being made public – only a few athletic commissions have that policy. But as Bellator champs go, Alvarez is making bank. BANK.

  • Tazza

    Honestly you can’t expect anymore than 2k/2k in prior years. You have to prove yourself in this sport. Eddie is smart for going else where as well. I’m sure if the were to go into negotiations now it would be much different.

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