Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez has been granted an unconditional release by the promotion and is now free to sign anywhere he pleases. Bellator and Alvarez both released statements Tuesday afternoon.
The lightweight star has been interested in leaving Bellator and signing with the UFC for years, but was unsuccessful in freeing himself from his Bellator contract through a contentious legal battle. New Bellator boss Scott Coker, however, has avoided any further conflict and decided to grant Alvarez his requested release, freeing him to sign with the UFC, should they still be interested.
“We’ve granted Eddie his unconditional release," Coker said in a statement.
"Eddie is free to explore the free agent market, we hold no matching rights, and we wish him the best in the future. We sat down with Eddie and his team a few times, and it became pretty clear early on that he just wasn’t interested in fighting for Bellator in the future. We want guys in this organization that want to be here, and after the history Eddie and the former regime had here at Bellator, we decided to move on. We wish Eddie the absolute best of luck with whatever is next for him. It’s a new chapter for everyone involved.”
Eddie Alvarez expressed gratitude towards Bellator in his statement, as well as an eagerness to move on with his career. “This was a long process but it’s a decision that everyone seems happy with," he said.
"I think it’s important to say that I am genuinely thankful for my 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 in my career.”
The 30-year old champion last fought in Nov. 2014, when he won a controversial decision over Michael Chandler at Bellator 106. The top lightweight has long been one of the very best fighters outside of the UFC, and has built an excellent 25-3 record over the course of his decade-long MMA career.
The UFC has yet to officially comment on Alvarez' release but we will keep you posted as this story develops.