Some guys will do anything to prove they're number one in the world.
Well, almost anything.
Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, fresh off a five round unanimous decision win over season two tournament winner Pat Curran last Saturday night (April 2), has nothing against the Zuffa regime and the strides the Las Vegas powerhouse made to advance the mainstream appeal of mixed martial arts.
But he won't give up the power to control his own destiny just to be a part of it.
Alvarez (22-2), widely considered the most talented 155-pounder never to step foot inside the Octagon, wants to retain control over the decisions that directly impact his career, including his choice of sponsors and ancillary rights that affect his intellectual property.
"It means I'm still somewhat in-disposable. If I was among that group, I'd be disposable immediately the day that my contract was taken over by Zuffa, so... I feel like I still can have some sort of say with where my career goes and what sponsors I want to get and whether I want to be in a video game or not. There's a lot of things. The whole signing with Zuffa thing is a big control issue with me and I don't know, I just... I'm happy that they're doing what they're doing but right now I don't know if it's the right move for me ... It would be great to fight them guys but at what cost, you know what I mean? At what cost to me? Do I have to, what measures do I have to take in order to fight them guys? Do I have to take an $80,000 pay cut? Do I have give up all my, every single ancillary right I can dream of? Do I have to, you know, now I can't get certain sponsors that I want to get certain sponsors that I want to get because I have to pay the UFC before they pay me? There's a lot of issues involved and I don't know if people understand that. And if I was 20 years old and I was single and I had no kids, I would jump to the UFC tomorrow. But the reality is (that) I have three kids and I have a family to take care of and everything has to line up. Yeah, I want to be #1 in the world but I also want to be able to maintain a home for my family so I can't tell my wife and kids, ‘hey, Daddy's going to take a huge risk and this may not work and hopefully we do well.' Like, I can't tell my kids that. I got to tell them that I'm going to work hard and I'm going to get compensated correctly for my hard work and that's all I really ask for."
"El Nino's" boss, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, entertained the possibility of bringing the 155-pound champions (and consensus top five ranked lightweights) into a superfight under a co-promotion agreement but somewhere along the way either he (or Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney) got cold feet and the fight never came to be.
And now that Strikeforce has been acquired by Zuffa, any potential crossover can be filed under "D" for dead.
Alvarez is continuing to make choices that best suit his career and the financial security of his family. Is he standing up for the rights of every fighter? Or does he have an unrealistic view of what this industry can and cannot do for its top stars?
What's your take?