With the UFC just five days shy from making history inside NYC’s famed Madison Square Garden, it’s hard to ignore the giant elephant in the room who willingly left a boatload of cash on the octagon-shaped table. UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez’s (pictured) name might appear first on MSG’s marquee, but McGregor is rightfully hoarding all of the headlines being the game’s biggest draw.
McGregor is undeniably the best self-promoter MMA has ever witnessed, and he’s being compensated for his efforts. Alvarez, on the other hand, will be getting paid peanuts in comparison to McGregor’s bankroll. However, before you quickly bash the UFC for once again underpaying their athletes, Alvarez is the one who failed to renegotiate a new deal for this blockbuster event.
Two months ago, McGregor clowned Alvarez at the UFC 205 pre-fight press conference for failing to cash in a winning lottery ticket. Alvarez, a 13-year veteran who should know better than anyone that the opportunity to make life-changing money in this sport is only offered to a select few, willingly agreed to face McGregor in arguably the biggest show in UFC history on the terms of his current contract.
“He didn’t even negotiate new money for himself … Everyone in the game wants this fight. This is the luxury fight, and this guy took it on his last contract,” a giddy McGregor said at the time. “Imagine that. Imagine getting the biggest fight in the history of the game, and [the UFC] saying, ‘Shut your mouth, kid. You’re getting paid what you got on your last fight, and you’re lucky you’re even getting that.’ ‘Yes, sir,’ and sign it. That’s what happened.”
Alvarez tried to counter by stating that this fight would be “easy money” anyways, so he didn’t feel the need to buck up at the bargaining table.
There are a handful of reasons why athletes enter MMA, with fame and fortune typically leading the list. Some fighters also use the word “legacy,” but very few accomplish enough consistently to involve themselves in that conversation.
Although Alvarez is relatively new in the UFC, he’s been around the block and has been widely known in this little MMA bubble for years. He turns 33 in January, so it’s highly unlikely at this stage in his career that he will embark on an Anderson Siva-like run to warrant a legacy discussion. It’s highly unlikely that he’ll find himself on the UFC’s Mount Rushmore when it’s all said and done.
So that now only leaves us with the fortune part of this discussion, which is very unfortunate for Alvarez. He made a flat $150,000 disclosed salary for beating Rafael Dos Anjos in his last outing to capture the lightweight crown. His paycheck should go up slightly for this his fifth UFC bout, but not substantially. Also, assuming his manager negotiated it into his original UFC contract, Alvarez should receive a percentage of UFC 205’s pay-per-view buys because he’s a champion.
After receiving his disclosed salary and top secret discretionary bonus, Nate Diaz reportedly became a millionaire after he accepted March’s last-second bout with McGregor at UFC 196. Diaz made another $2 million in disclosed salary for August’s rematch at UFC 202.
Prior to getting submitted by Diaz at UFC 196, McGregor boasted that he would “breeze past $10 million” for the bout. In September, McGregor claimed he walked away from UFC 202 with $25 million, and is expecting to close out 2016 at $40 million.
Win lose or draw, McGregor will pocket millions on Saturday. Win, lose or draw, Alvarez has already lost by only scoring several hundred thousand. And that’s his fault.