Eddie Alvarez is officially the hottest free agent on the market.
In a mixed martial arts world controlled and dominated by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, it’s hard to be considered one of the elite, especially at 155-pounds without locking horns with the top-ranked fighters under the Zuffa umbrella.
Alvarez has done exactly that, and it seems that he might finally step foot inside the UFC’s famed Octagon.
Last month he fulfilled his final commitment to Bellator, knocking out Patricky “Pitbull” Freire with a head kick likely to be nominated for knockout of the year.
With the final fight of his Bellator contract over, the top-ranked lightweight was open to speak with other parties, specifically the UFC, who have expressed interest in the past.
They were left with a similar situation when middleweight champion Hector Lombard was thrown a big money deal from the UFC with perks Bellator simply couldn’t match, such as pay-per-view percentage.
I guess looking to avoid the headache, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has opted to release Alvarez from his deal.
For Alvarez, this is a real kick in the gut. If it were a two-horse race the UFC would have to put up a large sum on the table to acquire the Blackzillians training partner. With Bellator backing out, they can offer the former champion a hotdog and a handshake and he will have to take it or fight for a lesser organization.
Jake Shields was put in a similar predicament by Strikeforce and wasn’t impressed with the outcome several years ago. Following his final fight in Strikeforce, defeating former dual-division Pride Fighting Championship’s titlist Dan Henderson, Shields looked to move on to greener pastures in the UFC.
Strikeforce could have fought to keep their middleweight champion, but instead opted to let him walk away. As a result, Shields only received what could have been a significantly larger contract.
Bellator is about to make the jump to Spike TV and have lost two of their biggest stars and drawing cards within their final year on MTV2.
Without them at least trying to keep Alvarez when they land on the UFC’s former home network, they will look like nothing more than a B-level feeder league, where fighters go to grow their stardom before being plucked away to the UFC.
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