When Dana White tweets to a fighter from another organization, you can almost rest assured that you'll be seeing that fighter in the UFC within a matter of months, so when he tweeted to Bellator lightweight, Eddie Alvarez, excited chattering rolled across social media sites in waves. The potential match-ups for him are endless, and just about every fan with a pulse has a dream fight set up for him in their mind's eye. Bellator, however, may have a wrench to throw in the machinery. They have a 90 day, exclusive negotiation period where they have the option to match or beat any offers coming in, and according to Eddie, he'll be going where the money is.
With the UFC / Spike TV contract up in 2013, Bellator will be moving to Spike, putting considerably more eyes on the promotion and it's fighters. Viacom will be having some scheduled meetings with Alvarez in the hopes of keeping his future firmly rooted with them, so for the next few months, it's a waiting game for fans. We recently spoke to Eddie to get his take on the whole situation. Here's what he had to say:
I'm gonna leave it up to the guys with the money. I have a clause in my contract that there's a time frame for Bellator to match, so I really don't have as much of a say as the fans think I do. It's different now. The 19 year old Eddie Alvarez, with no wife and kids, would throw caution to the wind, and go to the UFC to pursue a championship, regardless of the money. That's the athlete and competitor in me, but I play more than that role. If that's how my life still was, it would be a very easy decision. I'm a father and a husband now, so the most important thing is to take that into account whenever I sign anything. It's not just me signing anymore. It's my wife and my three kids signing, too. It's hard not to let your ego take the lead, but as a husband and a father, I need to be able to do that, not let my ego get involved, so I can do what's best financially.
One thing I've learned, is when you're broke, you can't concentrate on fighting. I've been broke before, and when you go out into that cage, it's impossible to focus solely on your fight with that hanging over you. People ca say, 'Oh, it's not about the money', but when you don't have any money, it's very hard to focus on fighting, and you can't even eat correctly, so a lot of my decision does have to do with the money. As an athlete, when you're financially secure, it allows you to only focus on what's in front of you, the main goal, which is beating that guy in the cage.
For the last year or so, Eddie has been with the Blackzilian camp, and feels that his striking has progressed immensely since joining the team. He feels that he has reawakened his love for the fight game, and reinvigorated his skillset with the talented athletes that train with him.
The first day I went down there for training, I was reawakened by the wealth of knowledge of the coaches and the talent pool that they have. I couldn't be happier. I'm challenged every day. It makes for a great team atmosphere. When you're challenged every day like that, it's impossible not to improve. All those guys, Alistair Overeem, Tyrone Spong, Siyar Bahadurzada, Gesias Cavalcante, and especially Henry Hooft have helped to improve my striking, and helped me to simplify things. That head kick knockout, I owe that to Henry. He appreciated my hands for what they were, but he saw something in my kicks, and knew that I had a very strong game when it came to kicking. He's the one who encouraged me to start kicking more. I didn't really see it in myself, but Henry did., and because of that, I was able to have the confidence and the belief in myself to start letting it go. He's really developing me into an all around striker, rather than just a boxer.
Eddie was involved in one of the most exciting fights of 2011, and if it hadn't been on the same night as Shogun / Henderson, it probably would've gotten more buzz and won fight of the year. In my very humble opinion, it was FOTY, and resides in my Top 3 favorite fights. He says he has no bitterness about that loss, and feels that being involved in a battle like that made them both winners in the end.
There's no way I could be upset about that fight. I've been a lot of tough battles where I've come out on top, so I won't sit here and be bitter about the one that I lost. Mike is a hell of a competitor and a great fighter. I hope in the future I'm able to get a rematch with him, but that one night, we were able to do something magical and please the fans. I'm happy it happened, and I think we both ended up being winners that night.
You can follow Eddie via his new Twitter account (the old one was hacked), @EALVAREZFIGHT