by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
As the sport of mixed martial arts continues to grow all over the world, Bellator Fighting Championships may be the biggest expansion into the Latin market that has been made so far. Debuting on ESPN Deportes in 2009, Bellator made a huge move last month signing on No. 2 ranked lightweight Eddie Alvarez to fight in its inaugural tournament and fight for them beginning in April next year.
Since the demise of EliteXC earlier this year, Alvarez has been on a frenzy picking up fights everywhere, from his upcoming battle against Shinya Aoki in Japan on New Year’s Eve to a Jan. 23 bout in Extreme Challenge in Atlantic City. Bellator Fighting Championships was also able to secure the Philadelphia native’s services recently and Alvarez is excited to be a part of the growth of the sport within the Hispanic community as well.
“Bellator will be on ESPN Deportes so it will be on the Spanish channel. Me happening to be Puerto Rican, my father’s Spanish, Alvarez, and I was sort of a free agent at the time and I was No. 2 in the world. So it worked out perfect to where I had every credential for them to pick me and I was one of the best candidates for them so it worked out well,” Alvarez told MMAWeekly Radio recently.
The new show that will debut on ESPN Deportes will be one part fight show, one part reality show that will focus on the fighters and their training for the tournament.
“We already started filming, some of it, part of it anyway,” Alvarez commented. “The guys behind it are top notch guys. They don’t mess around. They know what they’re doing. They have a great business plan and a great business sense and are very knowledgeable of the sport and very knowledgeable about how to capture people’s hearts and get people to watch fights.”
The Latin community has always been a huge part of the support system around the sport of boxing and Alvarez hopes to tap into that love of combat sports by bringing MMA to a whole new group of fans.
“What I didn’t know that I just learned is that 28% of fighting pay-per-views are bought by the Spanish community. That number’s huge,” said Alvarez. “It’s a whole demographic that really isn’t into MMA, they’re more into boxing. Almost 30% of boxing pay-per-views are bought by the Spanish community, which hasn’t hit the MMA scene yet. So once it does you’re talking about a whole lot of million dollar people.”
The upcoming series will give fans in the Hispanic community a chance to see MMA, maybe for the first time ever, and it’s something that Alvarez is proud to be a part of.
“I’m very proud of my heritage. Being Puerto Rican growing up never done anything bad for me,” Alvarez commented. “I get my looks from it. All my father’s traits are passed on to me and I’m very proud of my heritage, proud of where I’m from and proud of who I am.”
After his fights in December and January, Alvarez will then turn his attention to Bellator Fighting Championships and the chance to add a tournament crown to his growing list of accolades.
“Come April, I’ll be more than ready to blast off on ESPN and try to win that first tournament that they’re going to throw.”