After much speculation that Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez was headed to the UFC to battle Donald Cerrone at September 27’s UFC 178, the promotion has done what former CEO Bjorn Rebney promised but did not deliver and unconditionally released the fighter from his contract.
Alvarez was famously left out of action for the majority of 2013 while his messy contract situation was worked out with Bellator. Rebney was supposedly going to let Alvarez walk, but a loophole in the contract wording lead to him returning to the promotion to regain his lightweight strap from Michael Chandler at last November’s Bellator 106.
Under the leadership of new president Scott Coker, Alvarez has been finally been given a pass to make his way to the stacked UFC lightweight division, opening up a world of new and exciting possibilities for the veteran talent.
Coker detailed the scenario in a press release to ESPN.com:
“We granted Eddie his unconditional release this morning. Eddie is free to explore the free-agent market. We wish him the best in the future.
After sitting down with him and getting to know him, it was just a very hurtful situation for him,” Coker said. “I think the damage was already done. It became clear there was a wall there, and it was not directed at me. They just made it clear the damage was done.”
Alvarez also commented on his release, thanking Bellator for his time with the company:
“This was a long process but it’s a decision that everyone seems happy with,” Alvarez said. “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.”
So Alvarez leaves on a positive note and will await the official announcement of his signing with the UFC. Who should he face first in his long-awaited Octagon debut?