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Eddie Alvarez: Fighters who fail to explore free agency are killing themselves

Eddie Alvarez has solid career advice for MMA fighters - don’t re-sign before free agency

  Former UFC, Bellator and ONE Championship fighter Eddie Alvarez offers career advice to fighters Change Remove            /
Former UFC, Bellator and ONE Championship fighter Eddie Alvarez offers career advice to fighters
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez sounds like he’s in the early stages of planning his post-fight career.

“I would love to consult with younger fighters just to explain to them the business of this sport because no one values free agency and understands the power in it once you’ve made a name for yourself or won a world title,” Alvarez said on The MMA Hour.

If there’s a fighter who understands the business side of the sport, it is Alvarez.

In 2012, after fighting out his contract with Bellator, Alvarez signed with the UFC as a free agent. Bellator matched that offer, which was its contractual right. However, Alvarez and his legal team argued that Bellator’s matching offer was not equal to what the UFC offered. Finally, after some legal wrangling, Bellator and Alvarez agreed on his contract. Alvarez fought once for the promotion after that, defeating Michael Chandler for the lightweight title. When Scott Coker replaced Bjorn Rebney as Bellator president, one of the first things Coker did was release Alvarez so he could sign a deal with the UFC.

Alvarez fought for the UFC between 2014 and 2017. During his time with the promotion, Alvarez won, but did not defend, the UFC lightweight crown. He left the UFC in 2018, signing with ONE Championship as a free agent. Alvarez and ONE then parted ways last September.

Alvarez thinks fighters should avoid re-signing with a promotion before their contract expires.

“Let’s say the contract is six fights, you have to add as much value to yourself and to that promotion during those six fights as possible’” said Alvarez. “That way, you’re more valuable outside of the contract, but you have to leave the contract. You can’t allow a company to come in a fight or two before your contract [ends], to re-sign you for another six and eight [fights]. You can’t do that because you’re killing yourself.”

However, the Philadelphia-born fighter understands why fight promotions want athletes to sign a new contract before their old deal expires — it’s smart business.

“If I ran a business, and I have multiple businesses, I don’t know if I would do anything different. I would try to get my products for as cheap as possible, sell them for as much as I can, and I think that’s what the top companies do. They try to get us for as cheap as possible, then try to sell us to a larger audience for a lot more for their gain of profit,” said Alvarez.

While he understands the business side of the equation, Alvarez can’t grasp why other fighters fall for that approach. Re-signing before their contract expires only prevents fighters from finding out what they are worth and what the free market could bring them in a proper negotiation with the promotion.

“It’s up to me, the product, to go, ‘I need to find out what I’m worth.’ It’s my responsibility. Nobody’s going to give a f—k what I’m worth more than I should. I should care more than anyone. Figure out what’s my number [everywhere], that way I can negotiate properly,” Alvarez said.

What makes Alvarez’s advice valuable is that he has followed it himself. He tested free agency when he could and it seems as if it has benefited him financially throughout his career.