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.