It’s been a tumultuous last year for lightweight Eddie Alvarez.

The former Bellator champion saw his contract expire and was granted the opportunity to test the market as a free agent. As most expected, Alvarez received a large offer from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. What most didn’t anticipate, however, was Bellator MMA’s move to match the contract and the legal battle that ensued.

Despite signing on the dotted line with the UFC, Alvarez would not be allowed to fight at UFC 159 in April as he had hoped. In fact, his lawsuit against Bellator was set to head to trial and the Philadelphia fighter was essentially left in limbo as he waited for due process to play out.

That all changed when Bellator announced its first pay-per-view event, scheduled for Nov. 2 in Long Beach, Calif. One of the biggest arguments that Alvarez and his lawyers had in their lawsuit against the promotion (and parent company Viacom) was the fact that the UFC was offering a portion of pay-per-view revenue as part of the contract—something Bellator could not match. But with former UFC champions Tito Ortiz and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson now part of the Bellator roster, the promotion is diving headfirst into the pay-per-view market.

Almost as quickly as Bellator revealed the plans for the event, it announced that Alvarez would return to the Bellator cage, despite the legal mess that has kept him out of action for all of 2013. Not only is Alvarez returning, he’s been given a crack at the man who took his belt, current champion Michael Chandler, as the co-main event of the pay-per-view broadcast. By granting Alvarez a title shot without having to win a lightweight tournament—a departure from the promotion’s tagline of “where title shots are earned, not given”—Bellator is showing its commitment to Alvarez.

However, did Alvarez make the right choice in re-signing with Bellator MMA?

At first, it would appear the answer is yes. As a fighter in the prime of his career, losing a year (or possibly more) tied up in a legal battle did not look promising. Couple that with the fact that he may have had no choice but to fight for Bellator even after the lawsuit was resolved and it’s easy to see why Alvarez opted to swallow his pride. Now he can get back to fighting and collecting paychecks once again.

But it’s possible that Alvarez jumped the gun.

On the surface, Bellator’s foray into the pay-per-view market appears to nullify Alvarez’s argument that it could not match the UFC’s offer. However, that outlook would require the assumption that the Ortiz-Jackson headliner will be a draw and that fans will be willing to dish out $39.99 to watch two fighters in the latter stages of their respective careers. Many promotions have tried to follow the pay-per-view model set forth by the UFC. Those promotions now cease to exist.

You’re probably asking what that has to do with Alvarez. The answer? Everything.

If the event flops and instead of growing the promotion, actually forces it to take a step back, then Alvarez comes out in a worse situation than he was in while sitting on the sidelines. Instead of having more leverage in his lawsuit to prove that Bellator couldn’t match what the UFC was offering, he’ll find himself tied to an eight-fight, 40-month contract and the promotion that he was desperately trying to leave (assuming that he signed a contract that matched the terms that the UFC offered).

While it’s easy to sit back and criticize Alvarez’s decision from an outside perspective, the reality of the situation is that he wants to fight and provide for his family. You can’t fault him for that.

Whether the 29-year-old is truly happy with the outcome is something that only he knows. MMA is a business, and the Alvarez-Bellator relationship proves that you don’t have to be friends to work together.

Photo: Eddie Alvarez (L) battles Patricky Freire (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

The MMA Corner Staff

Your home for all things MMA. News, Interviews, Event Coverage, Editorials. If it is MMA related, you will find it on The MMA Corner.