Eddie Alvarez is a firm believer in the old adage that respect is earned, not given. Despite having a great track record and wins over notable stars including Anthony Pettis and Rafael Dos Anjos, Alvarez is now back to square one in ONE Championship and is ready to earn any respect he receives.
Back in March, Eddie Alvarez made his ONE Championship debut against Timofey Nastyukhin. He experienced a first-round TKO at the hands of the Russian fighter. Many fans predicted Alvarez would win and were shocked by the outcome. There were residual expectations coming from his UFC and Bellator careers that not all debuting ONE Championship fighters have to contend with.
During an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, Alvarez described the huge pressure he felt in his first ONE performance.
“I didn’t like the immediate attention I was getting,” said Alvarez (transcript via MMA News). “I felt like it was undeserved. I didn’t get any wins under that banner. I like going into promotions kind of playing the underdog and earning my respect. So I feel like maybe that’s why I subconsciously lose my debuts in promotions, just so I can have to fight for something.”
“I feel like respect is earned. It’s undeserved until you go somewhere and actually start beating guys and become the champion. I felt like there was already a lot of unearned respect there.“
This isn’t the first time Alvarez has faced adversity in a promotional debut. He lost to Donald Cerrone in 2014 in his first UFC performance, and very nearly lost his Bellator debut prior to that. Alvarez bounced back from both these patches of adversity, and went on to win some huge fights that earned him the reputation that he has today. This may be a pattern, that Alvarez needs to find his feet in an organization before he can deliver the performances that everybody expect of him.
Eddie Alvarez believes respect is earned over time — as is his salary. His contract with ONE Championship is rumoured to be worth eight figures.
He explained why he deserves a lucrative contract with the company, despite having not yet won:
“You’re not paying me for a fight. You’re paying me for 16 years of doing what I’ve done,” Alvarez asserted. “So I never look at it like a here-and-now thing. I don’t get paid for my fights, for what I do for 15 minutes inside the cage. I get paid for being a lifelong martial artist, for doing this for 20 years of my life. That’s why I’m paid.”
Eddie Alvarez is scheduled to return to the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Dawn of Heroes on August 2 in Manila, Philippines, where he’ll meet two-time former champion Eduard Folayang.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/27/2019.