Eddie Alvarez has long believed he's the best fighter in the world. Now, the former Bellator lightweight champion is going to get the opportunity to prove it.
A whirlwind day ended for Alvarez Tuesday with a series of interviews, after he agreed to a new UFC contract and will face Donald Cerrone in the first bout of his new deal at UFC 178 at the MGM Grand Garden on Sept. 27.
Alvarez had been in a protracted legal dispute with Bellator and had sued to get out of his deal. But Alvarez settled and came back to fight one fight final, a rematch for the lightweight title against Michael Chandler last year. Alvarez won that bout to win the title in a sensational battle after he'd lost to Chandler in an epic match in 2011.
He was at odds with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, but when Rebney was let go in June and replaced by Scott Coker, things kicked into motion. Coker on Tuesday morning announced Bellator had released Alvarez from his deal, making him a free agent.
A few hours later, he'd agreed to a new deal with the UFC and what should be the hotly anticipated fight with Cerrone.
"This is going to be an extremely fan friendly fight," he said of his bout with Cerrone. "How can it not be? You have two guys with the some of the highest finish ratios in all of the sport. You know people are going to love this fight. How can they not? These kinds of fights, these big fights that get everyone talking and interested, these are the fights I want. I want to fight only dangerous guys. Whenever I've done that in my career, I've stepped up and risen to the challenge."
Alvarez, 30, is 25-3. He's long sought the kind of stage the UFC will provide.
Alvarez is rated fourth at lightweight by Sherdog and fifth by MMA Junkie. He wasn't eligible for the UFC rankings because the UFC's rankings, voted on by media members, are only open to UFC contracted fighters.
The fight with Cerrone will give him the opportunity to prove his contention that he's the best in the world.
"I want to prove the naysayers wrong," Alvarez said. "They're everywhere. And to be honest with you, they're all I see and they're what motivates me. I have a tremendous support from a lot of the Underground fans. They believe in me, they want to see me do well and they're behind me. But there are a lot of people out there who don't believe it, and so I want to separate perception and reality. I want to be able to do that.
"What they perceive is not real. I'm the No. 1 fighter in the world and they're going to see that very soon."
Below is the full first fight between Alvarez and Chandler from 2011 that many thought was that year's Fight of the Year.