Payday for Alvarez

In a free market system, an individual contractor (i.e. fighters) can negotiate to fight under a banner based on their value. Unlike other sports leagues, the UFC and Bellator are not a collection of franchise and exist as the sole employing entity. Thus, while an NFL free agent has 32 suitors to negotiate with, a fighter only has a few promotions – thus limiting their value.

Unfortunately unlike the NFL – where there can be 8-12 teams that look very, very attractive to potential players – in the fight game there is really only one attractive destination: the UFC. All these means it’s essentially a buyers market and they are the buyer.

Eddie Alvarez fought hard to make it to the UFC, believing the ceiling was higher in their house for his potential earnings. Yet his $160,000 payout for his fight on Saturday puts him among the top five lightweights in the game, according to

If you study the list notice that the man he beat, Michael Chandler is second on the list – which makes sense considering together they make up Bellator’s most bankable names. Meanwhile, others on the list include Benson Henderson, Gilbert Melendez, Takanori Gomi, Josh Thomson, and Donald Cerrone. None of these fighters earned their reputations in the UFC. Their big paydays came when their promotions were folded or absorbed.

Alvarez never had that ‘luck’. He certainly has an argument that he should have been allowed to go the UFC. Still, his payday indicates that the UFC has little more to offer Alvarez than to prove himself against a stronger per-fight opponent stable. If you were to ask Dana White, though, he would likely tell you about the numerous ‘backdoor’ bonuses and support the UFC fighters receive. Whether they substantially increase the quality of a fighters’ life on their roster is hard to gauge.

Alvarez got paid nicely after Bellator 106 – the only injustice is he did not get to do it in the best division in MMA.


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