Sam Alvey feels terrible for the thousands of people impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, but he still believes the response has gone overboard.
Just hours after his fight against Khalil Rountree at UFC on ESPN 8 was cancelled, the UFC light heavyweight reacted to the promotion’s decision to postpone the next three cards on the schedule after President Donald Trump urged Americans to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people in an attempt to slow down the spread of the deadly disease.
“I’m very disappointed,” Alvey told MMA Fighting. “I thought for sure it was going to happen, but I’m still convinced that this pandemic is going to pass in the minds of the American people.
“It’s really embarrassing for me, for our country that it hasn’t yet already. But it’s one of those things. You can’t see the future all the time.”
Even before his fight got scrapped, Alvey was very vocal on social media while stating that he believed the reaction to the coronavirus in the United States was being “blown way out of proportion.”
While the spread of COVID-19 has now infected over 11,000 people in the United States with 157 confirmed deaths, Alvey has repeatedly pointed towards statistics from other more common diseases like the flu that claim even more lives on a yearly basis.
“It’s a huge overreaction,” Alvey said. “Deaths are terrible, and I’m very sorry for all the families that have suffered through that but pneumonia, just a typical flu season right now has killed close to 20,000 people, and people just don’t pay attention to that.
“It’s terrible that people are getting sick and not that many people are dying, but they still are, and that’s terrible, but when you compare it to any other flu season, even our current flu season, it’s killing 15 to 20,000 people in a three month span.”
Because information — or in some cases disinformation — spreads like a brush fire over social media, Alvey feels like everything has been amplified in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, which began in January.
Now with many U.S. businesses shut down and every major sport either cancelling events like the UFC, or suspending play for an entire season, Alvey believes it’s only a matter of time before the American people get fed up and try to get life back to normal.
“I think the entire world of knowledge we can get at any time of any day,” Alvey explained. “We just have to click on our phone so everyone’s opinion is out there. If one state has banned bars from opening at 9 o’clock, then we have to do that, because if we don’t do that … and it explodes like that. I was convinced my fight was going to continue next week because I’m convinced in the next week or two the American people are going to be sick of this.
“I still suspect it’s going to be like a light switch. It’s going to turn off and people are going to stop caring. People are just going to be upset that stuff is getting closed. I feel like as fast as this is getting everyone riled up, I think everyone is going to be done with it almost as quickly.”
When it comes to his own personal situation, Alvey has already been hit hard by the pandemic because his upcoming fight was cancelled. He was counting on that paycheck to provide for his family, and he pointed out the costs associated with a training camp rarely get considered when the rug gets pulled out from underneath fighters.
“Unlike the NBA, we pay for our camps,” Alvey said. “We pay for our nutrition. We pay for everything. The UFC helps with the nutrition. I’ve been working with Trifecta this and they’ve been helping a bunch, but we pay for just about everything.
“We put our lives on hold. We put our bodies through stuff that we probably shouldn’t all for that one day. Then that day just gets taken from us cause some government somewhere says it would be unsafe for us to fight in front of cameramen. It’s very upsetting that it just gets taken from us like that.”
Alvey says he spoke to UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard in the wake of the fight cancellations, but he hasn’t been told if the fighters would be receiving any kind of compensation while waiting to get rescheduled.
He is confident the promotion will do something to care for the athletes, even if he’s not getting his full show and win bonus.
“I’m sure Mick Maynard and Sean Shelby and Dana White and everyone at WME are just working around the clock to try and make it right with the fighters,” Alvey said. “Because they always have. They’ve always had our backs, at least I’ve always felt they’ve had my back. I’m sure they’re bending over backwards to try and help and accommodate us however we can.
“We’re going to give them a little bit cause I’m sure their phones are ringing off the hook. That’s 24 fighters on a card, three cards have cancelled, that’s 72 fighters, 72 different camps they have to deal with. I’m sure they’re going to do something. I’m going to give them a chance to know where they’re at before we start chatting with them. I really am convinced they’re going to at the very least help us out a little bit. When I was on the Manila card a few years back, it got cancelled about two weeks out and they paid me a little bit for it. They gave me some money and a rescheduled fight right away. So I would be thrilled if that’s the case. I don’t feel like they owe me anything, but I feel like they’ve always bent over backward to keep us happy and healthy and on good terms with them.”
More than anything, Alvey just wants to get back to work. There’s just no telling for certain when that will happen.
“Just get a fight scheduled,” Alvey said when asked what he wants most. “It’s hard to do, because every state, every commission is changing the rules, changing the guidelines. There are states now that are putting cities on house arrest. That’s another story in itself, but for a huge sports organization like the UFC to navigate that in every state, every city they go is going to be tricky, I know.
“Not going to lie, my family and I, we’re going to have to tighten our belts for a little while. I fought in July, I was supposed to fight in November, but I broke my hand. So what was going to be tax money is now living money, and we’re just going to have to budget responsibly and make intelligent decisions with where we spend our money. I’m sure that’s the same as all the staff of the UFC and the staff for every other business that can’t be open. I’m sure they’re going to have to tighten their bootstraps and makes some smart and probably tough decisions.”