What Eddie Alvarez’s ONE Championship switch means for MMA

Harry Kettle Harry Kettle

Eddie Alvarez, known as “The Underground King” is no longer a part of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and instead, he’s decided to take his talents over to the world of Asian mixed martial arts by signing with ONE Championship. There’s been a great deal of speculation surrounding the 34 year old’s future, especially in the wake of his loss against Dustin Poirier, but now it truly does seem like he’s found a deal that makes him happy.

That, at its core, is what this game is all about. As long as you can do what’s happy for you then we, as pundits and critics, can’t really say all too much – but when it comes to this deal there are certainly a lot of details to unpack.

If we’re talking in generalisations, then it’s obvious to see what this means in terms of the bigger picture in this sport. Eddie has followed in the footsteps of Rory MacDonald, Lyoto Machida, Gegard Mousasi, Ryan Bader and many more elite MMA stars who realised that the UFC isn’t the only game in town anymore.

From Bellator to ONE to PFL and beyond the money is there for the taking, and it’s not just a myth anymore. That may have been an obvious point from the get-go but it really does seem like this rubber stamps it, and you have to question the promotion’s logic here.

You’ve got a guy in Eddie Alvarez who has had some of the most entertaining lightweight fights of the last few years, and yet, the UFC still wasn’t willing to get out the chequebook in order to give him what he wants. It seems a bit bizarre, but when we zoom out of that one detail and look at the broader spectrum of things, there are so many other factors to take into consideration.

If you’re a diehard MMA fan then chances are that you’ve been roaming social media in the wake of this news breaking, and the majority of folks aren’t all too happy about Eddie’s decision. It’s not that they don’t want to see him be happy, but at 34, he’s still very much in the prime of his career. ONE put on great shows but there are still a whole bunch of question marks when it comes to the promotion, especially given the quality of opposition that he’ll likely face.

Somewhere like KSW in Europe probably would’ve been better suited to his style of fighting, and while there’s nothing wrong with taking a big payday, we’re still left wanting more. It seems as if they’ve got big plans for Eddie as we look ahead to his immediate future, but if those plans don’t involve a superfight against Ben Askren, are we even supposed to care all too much?

So while the positives are there for the future of MMA, we’re hesitant to call this a success until we’re a little bit further down the road.