Eddie Alvarez can now officially test the free agent waters after being granted his unconditional release from Bellator. New Bellator President Scott Coker stated that in dealings with the current lightweight champion and his management team, it became apparent that Alvarez didn’t want to fight for the organization any longer. Alvarez had his relationship permanently fractured after an ugly contract dispute with the promotion under the previous Bjorn Rebney regime.
Alvarez, who joined Bellator back in 2009, sat idle for more than a year after the organization elected to match an offer in 2012 that he had received during a negotiating window from the UFC. With differing opinions from the two sides on whether the terms of the contract had actually been matched, a prolonged court battle loomed. Alvarez finally decided to return to action in 2013 and defeated Michael Chandler at Bellator 106 in their thrilling rematch to regain the 155-pound belt for a second time. The two fighters were set up for a rubber match to headline Bellator’s first-ever pay-per-view event in May, but Alvarez was forced out of the event because of a concussion.
There had been plenty of speculation as to whether Alvarez would finish his Bellator contract in a trilogy bout against Chandler or whether he would look to unify the belt against Will Brooks. Brooks, who took Alvarez’s spot at Bellator 120, claimed an interim title by upsetting Chandler via split decision. In the end, neither scenario materialized, as the promotion decided to grant Alvarez his wish to move on. He will likely find a number of potential suitors.
The talented 30 year old went 9-1 under the Bellator banner and is now most likely to find a landing place in the UFC. Alvarez would be an excellent addition to an already talent-laden division, and there would be several attractive potential fights to consider for him. Alvarez has an exciting, fan-friendly style, and has produced an impressive 25-3 career record. He owns other notable victories over Shinya Aoki, Pat Curran and Tatsuya Kawajiri.
As for what Bellator does next, there’s a strong possibility that Chandler and Brooks will square off again later this year to determine a new lightweight champion.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports.