Eddie Alvarez’s venture into free agency has been frustrating to say the least. Since his jump to the open market, he has been on the shelf due to Bellator’s ability to match any offers he receives. The UFC is actively pursuing the top-10 lightweight, but Bellator has matched the offer the UFC has put on the table. This wait is likely hurting Alvarez in the prime of his career. However, upon examination, would a return to Bellator be better for his career, or would a jump to the world’s largest MMA promotion be the best scenario?

On one hand, Bellator is moving from the little-watched MTV2 to the popular Spike TV. Spike TV generally does good numbers in terms of MMA programming, as seen when the UFC had programming on the channel. Even after the UFC moved to the Fox family of networks, Spike continued to play old UFC programming on the channel with success. Old episodes of The Ultimate Fighter and “best of fighter” series that showed a certain fighter’s most memorable fights in the UFC often times were a win for the network.

Now that Spike TV has received live MMA again in the form of Bellator, it is possible that the station will continue to do great numbers. Bellator on MTV2 usually did under 200,000 views on Fridays, but the move to Spike has the potential to move viewership to over 500,000. Also aiding a possible increase in viewers is the shift of Bellator’s live fights from Friday nights to Thursday evenings.

That kind of exposure would greatly benefit a star like Eddie Alvarez. However, it’s likely that Alvarez’s presence on Spike TV would benefit Bellator more than it would benefit Alvarez himself.

That is where the UFC comes into play.

The UFC is a marketing machine that can make new stars on a monthly basis. Look at what they have done in a short time with guys like Erick Silva and Jimi Manuwa. Both guys, despite not having many fights in the UFC, have garnered a pretty solid fan base. Imagine a well-established fighter like Alvarez in the UFC. His popularity would skyrocket faster than those younger guys who have gotten a good start at gaining fanfare.

Alvarez’s paydays would be substantially better with the UFC, and he could eventually challenge for a title. The former Bellator champion may have lost a thriller to Michael Chandler, but look at some of the other fighters he has defeated. Pat Curran, Roger Huerta, Patricky Freire and Shinya Aoki have fallen victim to Alvarez, among others.

In the end, the UFC really would be the best thing for Alvarez. He doesn’t need to carry the weight of being a star like he would in Bellator, his paydays would be better and like stated earlier, he benefits more by moving to the UFC than staying with Bellator.

But more importantly, it’s time for the contract situation to resolve itself soon so that we can see him back in the cage, whether that cage belongs to the UFC or Bellator.

Photo: Eddie Alvarez (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.