Ultimate Fighting

Alvarez Finally Gets His UFC Wish

Eddie Alvarez (red gloves ) and Michael Chandler (blue gloves) during their Bellator Lightweight World Championship fight at the Long Beach Arena. Alvarez won the fight. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) and Michael Chandler (blue gloves) during their Bellator Lightweight World Championship fight at the Long Beach Arena. Alvarez won the fight. Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Eddie Alvarez has finally had his wish granted by making it into the UFC after he was released from Bellator in order to enter free agency.

The lightweight had been attempting to secure a move to the UFC for years, but a series of contract disputes with former Bellator president Bjorn Rebney stopped Alvarez from signing with the UFC. The arrival of Scott Coker as the organization’s new president has solved those issues; however, allowing Alvarez to leave Bellator despite currently holding the lightweight championship belt.

After years of trying to end his association with Bellator, Alvarez and his agents will have been delighted to see Rebney leave his position as the organization’s chief, with Coker taking up the role. The former Strikeforce CEO has always been a much more approachable and reasoned boss than Rebney, and Alvarez’s management team was rightly confident about working things out with the new Bellator president.

Alvarez’s issues with Bellator began in 2012 when he was made a multi-fight offer from the UFC, only for Rebney to exercise their right to match the rival offer. The two sides eventually filed countersuits against each other that were only brought to an end in August 2013 when a settlement was reached allowing the lightweight star to leave after two more fights.

The water was muddied further, though, when Alvarez beat Mike Chandler in a thrilling rematch to win the 155-pound title, but the new management structure at Bellator has seen fit to cut its losses on its lightweight champion and focus on moving forward.

Following the announcement, Alvarez admitted he was excited about the prospect of finally starting his UFC adventure: “I think it’s important to say that I am genuinely thankful for the time at Bellator. I know that sounds a little crazy given everything I went through, but I’ve fought there since 2009 and have been involved in some really amazing fights.

“The staff there always treated me great and I’m going to miss seeing a lot of those familiar faces around for sure. Myself and my team had some really good discussions with Scott, but in my heart I knew I was ready to move on and start the next chapter of my career.”

UFC president Dana White announced via Twitter that Alvarez signed with the UFC and will jump straight into a fight against Donald Cerrone in the co-main event of UFC 178 on September 27, in a fight that many fans who bet online feel will be a title eliminator.

With a 25-3 record, Alvarez will be hoping to earn a shot at the UFC’s 155-pound title as soon as possible and victory over Cerrone would certainly go a long way to achieving that ambition.

Currently on a four-fight winning streak, Cerrone finds himself fifth in the rankings and within touching distance of his first shot at the UFC title. If Alvarez is going to be a champion in his new organisation, he couldn’t have asked for a better measuring stick to see just what he can achieve in the UFC.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.