Eddie Alvarez has been down this road before.
As Alvarez was preparing to fight Nick Diaz for the vacant EliteXC 160-pound title on Nov. 8, he received word that the event had been cancelled and the promotion was no more.
Alvarez, who is ranked second at 155 pounds in the latest Sherdog.com rankings, said while he was disappointed by the cancellation of the fight, he wasn’t surprised by Pro Elite’s demise.
“It just sucks,” said Alvarez. “It happens to companies like this a lot. I think if this was the first time I’d been through this, I’d be more shaken. I was with Bodog Fight when they went under about this time last year. I just have to keep my head up, keep training and fight whenever I can. I can’t get down.”
In addition to losing his next purse, Alvarez had already committed substantial time to prepare for the bout.
“I was called by Jeremy (Lappen, Head of Fight Operations) and he told me things weren’t going to continue as planned,” he said. “I was bummed. I was a month to five weeks into my training camp and to not fight after putting so much into my training was tough.”
Despite the bad ending to his time with EliteXC, Alvarez -- who lives in Philadelphia and is one of the biggest draws on the East Coast -- had nothing but good things to say about the promotion.
“My manager (Monte Cox) always dealt with (EliteXC executive) T. Jay Thompson and we had a good relationship,” said Alvarez. “We worked out a deal that was good for both sides and I fought for them once. They treated me well.”
“Fighting Joachim Hansen isn’t a bad idea,” said Alvarez. “I don’t have anybody particular in mind for who I’d like to fight, though. I just want to continue fighting good guys and move up. I want to fight anyone who’s world-class and who’s a good fight and a good matchup.”
Though Alvarez said Japan is always an option, the 23-year-ols dynamo also has his sights set on his home turf.
“I want to be as well known in the U.S. as I am in Japan,” he said.
Along with Dream, Alvarez is still under contract to Adrenaline MMA and Extreme Challenge, which are both owned by his manager Cox -- so, don’t expect him to be on the sidelines long.
“Eddie’s contract with Pro Elite was also a contract with Adrenaline and Extreme Challenge, and also a contract with Dream,” Cox told Sherdog.com. “That contract allowed him to fight in any of those places. (Pro Elite) only owned a piece of Eddie. I put in his contract that he would fight in EliteXC and then Extreme Challenge, Adrenaline, or Dream. We were alternating. The deal also says if one of the organizations doesn’t schedule a fight or is unable to put on a fight, they lose a turn.”
Under the two-year agreement, Alvarez (15-1) has two more fights owed to Dream, though Cox said Alvarez’s next fight could be for Extreme Challenge, possibly this January in Atlantic City. Cox also did not rule out a stint with the UFC if an attractive offer presents itself.
“We’re going to do what’s in Eddie’s best interests, but while he’s waiting, he isn’t going to starve,” said Cox.
Alvarez already had a brush with the UFC when he auditioned for the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter” at open-call auditions in 2005. After catching UFC President Dana White’s eye, Alvarez was flown out to Las Vegas for the final round of interviews. Alvarez didn’t make the final cut, but the UFC was impressed enough to offer him a multi-fight contract directly into the big show. However, the sides couldn’t come to terms at the time.
“The UFC is always an option, but the catch is that we have to make a deal that both sides are happy with,” said Alvarez. “The UFC has a lot of good fighters and they might not need a fighter like me. I get paid well for somebody who’s not in the UFC and I want to continue to make a good living at it. I have two kids and a family, so it’s important to be able to put food on the table and make sure they’re comfortable. Right now, it’s about making money and being the best fighter in my weight class.”
The collapse of Pro Elite and its EliteXC brand has left a stable of fighters scrambling, but Alvarez –- who has clinched 11 of his 15 victories with his fists –- seems to have options.
“I’m a free agent right now and it’s a good time to be ranked in the top five in the world,” said Alvarez. “I’m sure there will be plenty of companies who want to contact me and Monte has been talking to some people. Plus, I still have my contracts with Dream and Adrenaline, so I do have something to fall back on.”