Nobody is more excited than Eddie Alvarez to finally have been granted his unconditional release from the shackles of Bellator so that he could test himself against the upper echelon of the UFC’s lightweight division.
“I’m going to be put under a bigger spotlight with the best promotion in the world, and I’m excited to get to express myself for all the hardcore fans and for all the fans that don’t know MMA,” Alvarez told UFC.com upon signing with the promotion.
“I’m just excited to be put on this big stage, and I feel like the past 10-11 years have been me trying to perfect my craft, so when this moment did come and I was put in front of this many people, that it would be near-perfect.”
One man that may run a close second to Alvarez in the excitement over the former Bellator lightweight champion making the move to the Octagon is his new boss, UFC president Dana White.
“I’m really happy for Eddie Alvarez. Eddie Alvarez was in a really bad situation. He got the bad end of that deal for the last couple of years,” said White recently.
“As a professional athlete, especially as a fighter, you have a very small window of opportunity to not only accomplish and do great things, but to make money to put away for after you’re done being a professional athlete,” he continued. “Finally, the kid gets to come where all the best fighters in the world are, challenge himself against the best, and hopefully make some money and take a run at the title.”
White didn’t waste any time trying to help Alvarez make up for lost time, slotting him in against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, currently one of the hottest fighters in the 155-pound class, on Sept. 27 at UFC 178.
Not only is it a payday, a win over Cerrone would immediately establish Alvarez as a threat to current champion Anthony Pettis.
“Cerrone’s on a tear. He’s mentally, physically, emotionally back into the sport,” said White. “It’s a big fight for these guys. I’m happy for both of them, it’s actually a great fight for both of them.”
Alverez’s Bellator release and subsequent UFC signing follows a lengthy legal battle that had Alvarez’s fate bouncing around between lawyers. Shortly after new Bellator president Scott Coker took the reigns, however, he that the promotion no longer wanted to tie Alvarez up in a contract battle when he really didn’t want to fight for them. The move represented a marked shift from the old Bellator regime under the guidance of Bjorn Rebney.
“(The UFC) is where Eddie wanted to be for years,” said White. “At the end of the day, the guy got so screwed over there. It's good that Coker did the right thing. That kid took a beating.”