Former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez dominated the MMA news today (Tues., August 19, 2014) when it broke that he had been granted an unconditional release by new Bellator president Scott Coker.
The signing lead to the immediate announcement that Alvarez would indeed be taking on rising star Donald Cerrone in the co-main event of September 7’s UFC 178 from Las Vegas, signifying that Alvarez had indeed arrived in the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
But it hasn’t exactly been an easy road for Alvarez, who became embroiled in a long and heated contract dispute with Bellator, their former CEO Bjorn Rebney, and their principal owners, Viacom Media, which kept him out of action for most of 2013.
Alvarez was quickly contacted by MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, who reached out to the lightweight slugger to get his take on his UFC arrival before the announcements went live.
Not surprisingly, Alvarez is on the lookout for the belt, and he’s coming for it soon:
“I want the title. And I’m willing to fight whoever I have to fight and willing to prove whatever I have to prove to whoever to get there. A lot of people are going to have their opinions and they’re going to say what they’re going to say, but the hardcore fans and the people who know MMA and know fighting they know who the underground king is, who doesn’t have the belt yet, and it should happen very soon.
So I’m hoping that I get a very tough opponent, who’s going to put on an exciting fight. Just put someone in front of me who’s dangerous so I can show the fans what I’m capable of.”
Alvarez indeed got the tough opponent he was looking for in Cerrone, who owns four consecutive finishes over Jim Miller, Edson Barboza, Adriano Martins, and Evan Dunham.
Alvarez was apparently looking to fight Gilbert Melendez, the No. 2-ranked contender who will take on champion Anthony Pettis for the belt at December 6’s UFC 181 from Las Vegas. “El Nino” famously teased signing with Bellator in order to play hardball with the UFC, ultimately resulting in Melendez signing a new and lucrative contract. Alvarez didn’t take too kindly to that, noting that he’s still serious about fighting Melendez at some point:
“Dream scenario would be to debut immediately against Gilbert Melendez. That’s my dream scenario, because I’m actually willing to sign a contract and not fake sign a contract and willing to fight him. I’ve been chomping at the bit for a long time, he’s been talking a lot, and I think I match up really well with that guy. That’s the dream scenario.”
Less than one day in, and Alvarez is already stirring the pot in one of the most stacked divisions in all of MMA. His desired bout with Melendez could eventually come to fruition if both fighters win their pivotal next bouts, but they have a lot of work to do before then.
But Eddie Alvarez is finally home, and his presence has been felt before he’s even set foot in the Octagon.
Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea for USA TODAY Sports