Bellator lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez just defended his title against Pat Curran at Bellator 39. At #6 on the USAT/SBN Consensus MMA Rankings, he's one of the most highly ranked fighters not currently under contract to Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC.
He recently spoke to ESPN's Josh Gross (audio file) about his decision-making in staying with Bellator and not jumping to the UFC (transcription via Fight Opinion):
"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."
Mr. Alvarez tried to walk a fine line but remain honest about his feelings regarding the UFC.
"I don't think they're doing anything wrong. I think they're running their business the way they are supposed to. But my issue with it is the way fighters lose one or two fights and they're fired and, not only that, there is no like, it's not like a union like the NFL, the NBA, and these other sports where the finances are regulated and you have to receive a minimum in order to be a part of that league. Like NFL, I don't know, maybe you have to receive half a million dollars per year just to play in the NFL or maybe a quarter of a million. The UFC's not like that. They can offer someone, you know, $5,000 and $5,000, the guy can fight at first and get his face broken to pieces and then he can totally put on a poor performance and then get fired. That scares me. I would like to be paid like an athlete and, I don't know. I guess I have a lot of issues with it and when I was, I believe when I was ranked #2 in the world, I was offered something from the UFC but it was significantly lower than what I was getting paid at that time, almost like insultingly low and I just, it wasn't the right move for me at that time. I have no qualms, I like the UFC, Dana White does a great job with them and they're definitely the biggest stage on Earth. And if I fight there some day, then great, but right now I think I'm where I'm supposed to be at."
"No, I think Dana realizes, you know, the type of person I am and he's seen me fight and I think he knows, you know, I don't take anything he says or doesn't say about me to heart. He's been in a number of interviews where he discredits my abilities and I understand why. I'm not mad at him. I'm not mad at him about it, I understand why he would discredit anything that I do. I don't work for him. But, you know, this is a business, man, so I mean I don't expect him to get emotional and say, ‘Let's never hire this kid because whatever.' I don't badmouth the UFC, it's just not the right move for me right now."
"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."