It is no secret that Eddie Alvarez is the hottest free agent on the MMA market right now.
The former Bellator lightweight champion has been considered a consensus top-15 fighter for quite some time now, and with his final fight under his Bellator contract out of the way, he is free to negotiate and sign with any promotion he wants.
UFC President Dana White has fielded questions about Alvarez recently, appearing to be interested in the free agent fighter. It is also fair to say that barring a crazy contract offer out of left field, that the Philadelphian will fight in the Octagon in the near future.
When Alvarez was in Bellator, he was a big fish in a small pond, going 9-1, holding and defending the championship, all while finishing eight of those fights. With a move to the UFC, however, Alvarez would be entering the big pond with a lot of solid competition around him.
Nothing against the lightweight division of Bellator, but the UFC lightweights were stacked even prior to the 2011 merger with the WEC. While Alvarez’s 24-3 record speaks for itself, he has been known as a guy who takes a bit of punishment even in the fights he wins.
His most recent victory against Patricky Freire was a solid example of that. Just before his fight-winning knockout, he was tagged pretty solidly and showed signs that confirmed it while in the cage. His fight against Michael Chandler showed him getting tagged time and time again as he was eventually stopped in the fourth.
He followed up that loss with a strong performance against Shinya Aoki which got his career right back on track, but Alvarez is now known as a guy who can bounce back from punishment. Having such a strong chin and being able to recover quickly is very important in the world of MMA, but how long can that strong chin last? It is one thing to get rocked by “Pitbull” or Josh Neer, but it is another to have it happen against the likes of Clay Guida, Joe Lauzon or Jim Miller.
And even if he was able to recover while fighting those guys and go on to win, those are the fighters you would have to fight in order to get into the upper echelon of the division where fighters like Donald Cerrone or Gray Maynard reside.
At the age of 28, jumping into the Zuffa promotion is the right move for Alvarez, but the jury is still out on him. Despite the one loss, he has dominated the competition in Bjorn Rebney’s Bellator promotion.
As it stands, he would be the second big name free agent to make the move from Bellator to the UFC. The first one, Hector Lombard, didn’t live up to the expectations in his first promotional fight. How Alvarez will fair in his is unknown, but if he can keep that chin tucked down and continue to press forward even if he gets hit squarely, Alvarez will be able to make plenty of noise in the Octagon.
Photo: Eddie Alvarez (L) battles Patricky Freire (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)