The MMA world breathed a collective sigh of relief last Tuesday (August 19, 2014) when news broke that Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez had finally been released from his contract. Alvarez was quickly signed on to face top-ranked lightweight Donald Cerrone in the co-main event of UFC 178, fulfilling the promise of a bout that was rumored a few weeks before.
After a long and drawn out contract dispute with former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney that kept Alvarez out of action for the majority of 2013, most were glad to see new Bellator president Scott Coker do the noble thing and let Alvarez walk.
Speaking at today’s UFC 180 media day in Mexico City, Mexico, UFC President Dana White addressed Alvarez’ peculiar situation, noting that he believes time was “stolen” from him in Bellator:
“That kid got screwed around a lot over the last couple of years. The most important thing that was taken away from this kid was time, because as a professional athlete that is the only thing you have. You have a small window of opportunity to make money, do amazing things, have millions of people see it, etc., etc. And that time was stolen from him. Horrible what was done to that kid.” – via MMA Fighting
But White was quick to point out that he’s now in the right place and slated for a top-ranked fight in the UFC:
“That being said, I’m happy for him. He’s finally here, he’s getting the opportunity to fight a guy like ‘Cowboy’ who’s on an unbelievable roll. Win, lose, or draw, he’s here in the UFC now and I’m happy for him.”
It’s undeniably refreshing to see Alvarez get a chance to start over in the Octagon, where he can face the elite competition of the stacked UFC 155-pound landscape.
For many years, there’s no doubt been a foregone conclusion that Alvarez would need to sign with the UFC if he ever wanted to be considered the best lightweight in the world.
Now he’s there, and many top-level challenges will await him.
Will he capitalize by beating the best, or will Alvarez prove to be a hyped champion who benefitted from the lesser competition of Bellator?