(“Next!” Pic: Bellator)
And then there was one. It’s been almost three weeks since the news broke that Zuffa, LLC. had purchased Strikeforce – this week Our Octagon Overlords allegedly began signing SF fighters to their own airtight contractual arrangements – and it just now dawns on us what this means for Eddie Alvarez. Put simply, the continued Dana-fication of the MMA landscape means Alvarez is the only US-based 155-pound fighter anywhere near the Top 10 (or, hell, Top 20) not currently owned in a roundabout way by Big DW and the Fertitta Bros. God, that must be lonely.
As if on cue, and just a few days before he’s set to put his Bellator title on the line against tournament winner Pat Curran at an event we all keep forgetting about, Alvarez made some fairly stock claims this week to SI.com’s Jeff Waggenheim about how a lot of UFC lightweights would be “nobodies” without the promotion’s PR muscle behind them. Boy, we’ve heard this one before, right?
“You’re just mentioning names,” Alvarez responded, when Waggenehim reportedly presented him with kind of an admittedly weird list of the UFC’s ‘top lightweights,’ including Gray Maynard, B.J. Penn, Anthony Pettis, Kenny Florian and Sean Sherk. “And they’re only important names why? Because they fight for the UFC. Or else they’d be nobodies. The UFC does a great job of pushing them, and they’re popular. It doesn’t mean they’re talented. It just means they’re known.”
Alvarez went on …
“I guarantee that if you put (UFC fighters) in a tournament structure like Bellator, they’re not going to win it every time. Gray Maynard? Kenny Florian? All these guys, they’re UFC fighters, that’s all. They’re pushed by the UFC, but when they leave the UFC, they’re forgotten. When’s the last time you heard Josh Neer‘s name? You haven’t. When’s the last time you heard about Roger Hurerta? You haven’t. They’re (nobodies) anymore. What were they two years ago? They were superstars.”
Well, no. Josh Neer was never a superstar, that’s just ridiculous. Alvarez has a point about Huerta, though: “El Matator” was kind of a big deal, until Zuffa decided his head had gotten a little too swole for his myriad of fashionable caps. If anything, Alvarez ought to know what it feels like to toil in relative obscurity. At 21-2, most hardcore fans regard him as one of the sport’s most savage and talented fighters, yet casual hangers-on probably only know him from his appearance on “Bully Beatdown.”
As for the rest of it? Well, we suppose we could make the point that UFC fighters are UFC fighters only because they’re talented and that at this point it’s sort of silly to deny the fact that the Octagon houses most of the best MMA competitors in the world. Well, except for Eddie Alvarez.
Rather than put too much thought into it though, we’ll just go ahead a chalk all this up to the standard ramblings of the non-Zuffa inclined fighter. Someday, Eddie will sign with the UFC or Dana and the boys will just buy Bellator and then he’ll have nothing but nice things to say about the promotional power of the world’s largest MMA promotion. Or else.