Professional sports is and forever shall be a business first, and then an athletic competition. The executives behind the scenes know this fact and things are easier for them when the athletes don’t behave in the same vein. However, as mixed martial arts continues to grow, it is better for the athletes to begin to treat their careers as business both inside and outside of competition. Eddie Alvarez has taken strides on doing what is best for his view of his career rather than what others would like to see him do and this brings him closer to being a “professional athlete.”
Eddie Alvarez has been a mainstay amongst the top of lightweight rankings for an extended period of time. Up until his 2011 defeat at the hands of Michael Chandler, he was considered among the top five within the division and one of the best fighters not signed to a Zuffa contract. As his time with Bellator drew to a close, excitement grew that he would potentially end up in the Octagon as some point in 2013. After closing out 2012 with knockout wins over Patricky Freire and Shinya Aoki, Alvarez walked out of the BFC circle truly in control of the next steps in his fighting life.
A bidding war was expected to begin between the UFC and Bellator for Alvarez’s services. UFC President Dana White made it clear that there was some interest in the Philadelphia fighter and they were going to go after him. Bellator President Bjorn Rebney stayed silent on their position but it was known that they had the right to match any deal that was offered to Eddie. Reports coming out this week have stated that Bellator has exercised that option and matched the offer that was sent to their former champion. This comes after White was asked questions about Eddie at a recent press conference and responded that he can’t say much but things will get “ugly.” No matter how ugly the negotiations become, Alvarez wins out in the end.
According to Fighter’s Only, Alvarez had an offer from the UFC that was worth $400,000. His deal with Bellator demanded hat he disclose the details which resulted in them matching what they had offered. In 2012 Eddie admitted that he is going to compete for whoever offers him the most money and right now, it seems as if that number may be driven higher. Not a bad position to be in for a fighter where salaries such as these are rare. We’ve seen multiple stories about the pay disparities that are being created in mixed martial arts and if big name fighters want their piece of the “pie” they will have to begin acting just like Alvarez and make it well known that they are out for the money instead of a legacy.
Fans and promoters may not like the moves that he is making but in the end, Alvarez must do what he has to in order to provide for his family. If that means going after the big paydays first, then so be it. Just because you are a UFC champion, that doesn’t mean you’re going to end up getting “Anderson Silva money.” While it is great to have the adulation of those that are viewing your competitions; the fact in the matter is that you have to do all you can to earn the most revenue available during the short shelf life that is a MMA career.
Mixed martial arts continues to make its way into the mainstream sports world. As we enter 2013 we should become used to the idea that these athletes are out to make money first and please the fans second. After all, that is the foundation of prize fighting.