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One Championship

Eddie Alvarez blames UFC business model for exit, saying One Championship offer was ‘too good to turn down’

Former UFC lightweight champion says ‘everyone expressed interest’ in him but that Singapore’s One Championship gives him chance to make history

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 October, 2018, 1:23pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 October, 2018, 1:23pm

Eddie Alavarez has hinted the UFC did not offer enough money to keep him, with the contract put on the table by One Championship “too good to turn down”.

The 34-year-old former UFC lightweight champion became a free agent after a TKO defeat by Dustin Poirier in July which left him fourth in the divisional rankings.

Alvarez claimed he had offers from all around the world and that “everyone expressed interest” before signing with Singapore-based One earlier this week.

“The UFC did their best, considering the average pay of an athlete at the UFC,” Alvarez told a conference call. “I believe they did a great job, they did their best to keep me. But they have a business model.

“They pay a certain amount for certain fighters for certain reasons, so everybody is a different case. It is what it is. No harm, no foul – but it’s business first with these promotions.

“One looked out for me and my family, they understood my wants and needs. It’s important at this point to return the favour.”

One is also the only major MMA organisation where Alvarez has not held a world title, having also ruled the lightweight division twice in Bellator.

“If I was to retire ... and people came up to me and said, ‘Yeah, but he didn’t win the One world title’, that would bug me,” the Philadelphia-native said.

“I’m gonna save myself that bother, fly to Asia and take on the best lightweights there and win that world title.”

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He added: “I have a chance of making history, possibly history that can never be made again. It would take a fighter 20 years in the fight game to fight for these organisations.

“It’s almost a lottery ticket to win one world title, so to go to every major organisation, fight their best guys and beat them all one by one and win that world title means the world to me.

“Anything that can get me nervous, afraid and excited, that’s what I’m up for, like when I was young again. I look forward to feeling that way.”

Known for his exciting style, which he describes as “high paced and violent”, Alvarez is 29-6 in his MMA career.

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He has notable wins over Gilbert Melendez, Anthony Pettis, Rafel Dos Anjos and Justin Gaethje in the UFC, though he suffered a one-sided TKO defeat by Conor McGregor in 2016 in his most high-profile bout.

“My prime motivating factor – it could be a sickness of mine – I don’t have the ability to be happy with my achievements, no matter what I’ve done,” he said.

“I’ve had fans say, ‘What more do you have to prove?’ Inside I wish I could tell you guys I felt like that, but I never do. I don’t know if it’ll go away but there’s a war going on inside of me saying there’s more to do and improve on.

“I have trouble resting and being comfortable. After fighting so long, my comfort is in being uncomfortable, that’s why I’ve put myself here in this situation with One.”

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One Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong promised Alvarez was “the first of many signings of global superstars” for his organisation.

“We’re upgrading our roster everywhere,” Sityodtong said. “We’ll make some major announcements. You guys will be surprised.

“Every free agent should think about One if they want to fight on the biggest stage and get paid like a world champion should get paid. That’s our proposition.”

The Thai added: “I know a lot about Eddie, he’s the kind of guy that makes a great hero for the world and a great face for One Championship.

“It’s a high stakes thing for Eddie. I love the fact he has that championship mentality. I really appreciate what Eddie brings to the table, not just his fighting style and achievements but who he is as a person.”

Alvarez said he will be going to the Singapore Indoor Stadium on November 9 for One’s upcoming “Heart of the Lion” event, but only as a spectator.

The show is headlined by home favourite and atomweight champion Angela Lee moving up to strawweight to face China’s Xiong “The Panda” Jingnan. Bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes will also face interim champion Kevin Belingon.

“I’d imagine early 2019 is when I’m gonna debut,” Alvarez said. “We haven’t gotten into detail yet. “The biggest thing was just us getting to know each other, gaining trust, getting this deal done. Now I can fly to Asia, meet the fans and feel the excitement.”