Most people outside of the fight world don’t recognize the name Eddie Alvarez.
But if you ask a mixed martial arts (MMA) fan, you’ll probably get an emphatic response about the dynamic fighter.
Alvarez (22-2) is one of the most talked about fighters not signed up with the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization. He’s ranked as the No.6 lightweight in the world by MMA website Sherdog.com, and his fan base have proven themselves to be some of the most devout in the sport.
The 27 year-old Philadelphia, PA, native was recently touted by UFC commentator Joe Rogan as someone they would like to see in their organization.
On Saturday, Alvarez will defend his Bellator Fighting Championships lightweight title against Michael Chandler (8-0) in Hollywood, FL.
Chandler recently angered Alvarez by criticizing him for delaying the fight due to an injury.
Fox News Latino spoke with Alvarez about that, Bellator’s recent purchase by Viacom, his attempt to buy an ownership stake in Bellator, the UFC, if he would fight UFC champion Frankie Edgar, and his Latino heritage.
The following transcript was edited for clarity.
FOX NEWS LATINO: So Eddie Alvarez here, the lightweight champion of Bellator Fighting Championships. Now Bellator just signed a major deal to go worldwide. What does that mean to you? Are you as committed? Do you think Bellator’s really committed to taking this thing, making it big, and are you committed to Bellator?
EDDIE ALVAREZ: Yeah, I mean I have a contract with Bellator that, you know, I have to fulfill my obligations with them. The ride's been a great ride. I’ve been with them for, I believe, since 2008, and I myself have grown as a fighter and they have grown as a promotion, so I think we helped each other in that respect. And it's cool to see that we are both getting momentum and are both making improvements and moving to the next level.
FNL: Well, now they just sold ownership to Viacom. There was a report out that you had tried to buy a stake in Bellator. Is that true?
EA: Yeah. I would have loved to do it. I inquired with President Bjorn Rebney about it as soon as UFC bought Strikeforce [another MMA promotion]. I believed that the next natural process, because I trusted in the Bellator brand, was that UFC was going to buy Bellator next. I was pretty accurate in my assumptions that we we’re going to get bought, it just wasn’t by the UFC. It was by Viacom before the UFC could.
FNL: Were you just trying to make sure that you got taken care of, that you got a good deal in the long run? Or was this something that you just think maybe there needs to be more competition out there and you felt that maybe Bellator should be separate?
EA: No, I mean the reason I wanted to buy stake is cause I believe in the owner Bjorn Rebney and his ability to make it a success as a promotion. And...I have three kids and if I feel, you know, if I have a gut feeling that something may work I go for it and I felt like financially that would have been a good decision. I wasn’t able to do it before they bought out but unfortunately I wasn’t able to capitalize. But now I am with a promotion that has $ 5 billion in backing so that helps me sleep at night a little bit better.
FNL: Your buddy out there in New Jersey, Frankie Edgar, Joe Rogan [a UFC commentator] had brought you up, that you are someone they’d like to have over [in the UFC]. What do you think of that? Have you been getting a lot of calls about that?
EA: Everyone, man, everyone asks me, ‘When you going to UFC? When you going to UFC?’ and UFC does a great job promoting. There is no question that UFC is the number one MMA promotion in the world. You can’t knock that and you can’t argue with that so I pretty much consider it normal talk when people ask me, ‘When you going to UFC? When you doing that?’ you know? For me, I’m a fighter first, I want the competition, I want to fight top name guys but at the same time I have a family and I have a career that I have to consider, too. I only get one shot at this and I have to make good decisions for myself financially as well as the right decisions for my career, so it’s tough. There’s a whole lot of things to be considered when you’re talking going with a promotion and signing with a company.
FNL: There is talk also of you fighting [Shinya] Aoki, which of course, Bellator is involved in. I wanted to get your opinion on this. A lot of people saw [Christian] M’ Pumbu (the light heavyweight champion) lose in a non-title match up. You’ve only defended your belt once. Are you hoping to get more fights? Is that something with Bellator you’re hoping to get going?
EA: That’s my biggest pet peeve right now, is the number of fights that I’m getting. First of all, you know, no matter how much I get paid, waiting seven months for a fight, your funds run low so that’s never good. And second of all, I’m only 27 and I think it’s important for me right now to fight as much as I can, and the best guys I can while I’m still sort of young. Because by the time I’m 30, I want to be able to run through guys. I want a stage in my career where I’m just dominating everyone and the only way to do that is to get a lot of fights now and get fights against good guys so that’s not happening. So that’s what I am most upset about right now if I could say anything, is that I’m not getting enough fights that I want and it’s hard to find guys out there, in the rankings that I am able to fight
FNL: If you had a chance to fight Frankie Edgar, would you?
EA: Not as of today. I don’t think it’s necessary. I think we could both make a lot of money fighting other guys who consider themselves to be top rank guys. If the well ran dry then I’m sure there is something that can be done but we’ve grown close in the past couple of years and traded a lot of secrets and things like that so I am very happy where I’m at. I do want to do better but Frankie is having his moment and this sport is about putting your time in and he’s having his time right now and I think he has to capitalize as much as he can. I’m patient. I’m a little younger than Frankie. I’ll get my time. I know I will.
FNL: You’ve got a big fight coming up November 19, the Hard Rock Seminole Casino in Hollywood, FL. Michael Chandler. And you’ve made it no secret that Chandler kind of opened his mouth when you were injured and you didn’t like what he had to say and you really are just focused on that fight. Does that still hold true right now?
EA: Yeah, I mean all of the hard work is basically done. I have about one or two more hard sparing sessions and then it’s time to get the weight and get after him. I actually thank him. He said some things that actually motivated me. When there’s sometimes in the gym when you want to quit or when you’re tired and can’t go no more it's things like that that make you get up early and stay in the gym late. That is just extra motivation when someone mouths off or does something like that. So never a smart idea to piss off your opponent, never. Let me rephrase that. I’m sorry. It’s never a smart idea to piss your opponent off a month or two before the fight. It’s always a good idea to do it maybe right before the fight, maybe a day before, or an hour before, but never a month or two before. You never want to give them a reason to stay in the gym longer then what he originally planned.
FNL: How do you see the fight going when you’re in the cage with him?
EA: I’m realistic. He’s a wrestler, he’s a tough guy, but the style that I bring is hard to mimic so I doubt that he has any guys in his camp that are able to move like I do, with the same sort of speed and explosiveness and everything. I feel like just like my past opponents, I’m going to go in there, I’m going to move and dance and groove and come out with a victory. I think it’ll be too much for him to handle. Maybe he’ll realize that in the earlier rounds.
FNL: How important is your heritage [to you], being a Latino fighter?
EA: I think it’s important because of how proud that Latin community is of their fighters. I’m also half Irish as well.
FNL: You’re proud of both sides.
EA: I’m proud of both sides and they are both really well known to be fighting heritages so I tell everyone all the time they say, ‘What are you’? I say I’m Irish. I’m Puerto Rican. I guess I was born to fight. I’ve got the fighting Irish, and Puerto Ricans are some of the best fighters in the world. I’m proud of who I am, but it doesn’t define me as a person. I’m a whole lot more than just Spanish or Irish or whatever but definitely it’s given me help. It’s given me a push and I’m very proud of my Spanish heritage.
Victor García is an associate producer for Fox News Channel and a regular contributor to FoxNewsLatino.com.