Full Contact Fighter’s “The Daily Takedown:” Eddie Alvarez the First Big Trophy in the UFC/Bellator Cable War
By Joshua Molina
Bellator appears poised to make a big impact at the start of the New Year. With its well done, “MMA is Coming Home” commercials, Bellator is building positive buzz.
Bellator plans to move to Spike TV in January, a move that will put its fighters in more homes than ever. Along with it will come the prestige of broadcasting on a Top 25 cable network.
Bellator will feel more “big time” and comparable to the UFC in the eyes of the casual MMA fan. The UFC, of course, hit it big in Spike TV, but has since moved on to diversify its broadcast outlets, with shows on Fox, Fuel and FX networks.
But it will take more than just good branding for Bellator to hit the jackpot on Spike. It needs to do its best to retain its stars, and sign new ones. If fans believe Bellator is place where fighters want to be, than it’s easier for fans to follow them.
Given Bellator’s big push for mainstream acceptance, it will be important for them to do what they can to re-sign Eddie Alvarez.
It’s not like Bellator can’t survive without Alvarez. The fact is that outside of hardcore fans, most people don’t know who he is. But Alvarez symbolizes something bigger than himself.
He’s sort of the first big trophy in the UFC/Bellator cable TV wars. If Bellator can keep Alvarez, it will send a big message that Bellator is place where fighters choose to perform. It’s not a second option.
Alvarez, like Fedor Emelianenko, could be one of the few guys in the industry with the bargaining power to say No to the UFC. If he turns the company down, it may give other fighters the confidence they need to also pursue other MMA option.
There’s no doubt that the UFC is great for the sport of mixed martial arts. But there’s also no doubt that the UFC’s growth in popularity has nearly demolished all of the competition. UFC boss Dana White has successfully invented the perception that if a fighter is not in the UFC, than he simply is second-rate.
That’s nonsense. Alvarez could be somewhat of a pioneer if he turns down the UFC offer and stays with Bellator. Apparently Bellator will make Alvarez an offer this week. If Alvarez accepts, then he Spike reportedly will begin immediately creating new “MMA is Coming Home” commercials built around Alvarez as the company’s biggest star.
If Alvarez turns the offer down, Bellator will allow Alvarez to begin contract talks with UFC, allowing him to break his 90-day no-negotiation with the UFC clause. It’s very likely that Alvarez will say no to Bellator’s first offer so that he can talk with the UFC and then see how much it will offer him.
The UFC will certainly offer more to Alvarez than Bellator will.
But Alvarez has to consider many things. Will the UFC treat him well after he is with the company, or are they just courting him now, so it can hurt Bellator?
Will Alvarez get an immediate title shot in the UFC, or will he have to work his way up?
Should Alvarez stay in Bellator, even if it is for a little less money, knowing that he’s one of the best fighters in the world, and the UFC can’t have him?
Whatever the case, Bellator should try to avoid losing Alvarez to the UFC. They shouldn’t break the bank for him, because no one fighter is bigger than the company. But they need to convince him that he is in a good position to expose the myth that all the best fighters in the world fight in the UFC.