Eddie Alvarez cites 8-figure deal, 'partnership' for switch to One Championship

Alvarez sheds light on eight-figure deal with One Championship (2:07)

Eddie Alvarez tells Ariel Helwani about the free agency process in MMA and signing with One Championship. (2:07)

Eddie Alvarez says his decision to leave the UFC and sign with One Championship last week wasn't too difficult. Not when the contract is, he says, a guaranteed eight-figure deal.

"When I left the table at the UFC and said I wanted to go and explore, this is the deal I had in my mind," Alvarez told ESPN's Ariel Helwani on Monday. "One made me a partner in their promotion. It was more of a partnership than, 'Hey, come on as a fighter. Here's your money to fight,' and that's it. They made me a true partner. It's a package deal. It's nothing like a normal MMA contract. They fully committed to me, and we are full committing back."

Alvarez, the former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion, said he and his management team met with the UFC in Las Vegas over the summer in hopes of re-signing with the promotion. The UFC offered a deal that "came close" to what he was hoping for, but he wanted to take a day to think it over. He later decided it was best to listen to offers from other MMA organizations.

Alvarez said he doesn't regret a thing.

"I would be curious for the next four years," he said. "I'd be ripping the little bit of hair I have left on my head thinking about, 'Was there a deal out there? Was there a monster deal I wasn't thinking about?' I would have not been able to sleep at night re-signing a deal and not knowing what my full potential was."

That move appears to be paying dividends. Though he would not say how many fights he signed for, the total amount of money he will make is greater than any previous amount in his career.

The process of listening to offers -- "Everyone was interested, from Russia to Poland to bare-knuckle fighting" -- enabled him to see his true worth, he said.

"The value of free agency today is so incredible. For any fighter to give that up is foolish," Alvarez said. "If you really want to make money in this sport and test how much you're worth, you become a free agent. I would say there's no other option.

"Leverage always goes to the man who is willing to walk. There hasn't been one single contract during my career where I wasn't willing to walk if I felt like I wasn't going to get paid what I felt I was worth. If you're willing to walk, you hold all of the cards."

Alvarez is coming off a second-round TKO loss to Dustin Poirier in July. He was 4-1 with one no-contest in his previous six bouts, the lone loss coming to Conor McGregor in November 2016 in his first attempt at defending his title.

Alvarez said he does not believe his most recent defeat to Poirier affected him financially.

"Monetarily did it hurt me? No. Not at all," he said. "There's a lot of promotions with a lot of money, and there isn't a lot of free agents. There's barely any. So it's supply and demand."

Alvarez told ESPN he has no set debut date for One Championship, but he's aiming for February or March of 2019. He expects at least one marquee MMA fighter to be added to the Singapore-based promotion's roster by that time.

"I'm not the last large signing in the next month or so," he said. "There will be a shift, a massive shift, in power towards One Championship."