Eddie Alvarez and 5 Other Bellator Fighters Who Should Be in the UFC
With Bellator Middleweight champion Hector Lombard having jumped ship to the UFC and seemingly only one win away from a UFC title shot, Bellator is now being looked at for more talent who could make it in the big show.
Hot on the heels of Lombard in moving over is former lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez, who was spotted sitting next to Dana White during UFC on FOX 3: Diaz vs Miller. Alvarez' Bellator contract is seemingly expired, and he looks very likely to be announced in the not-so-distant future with a fight with Anthony Pettis apparently in the works.
Alvarez has a 23-3 record (with 20 stoppage wins) with wins over guys like Shinya Aoki, Pat Curran and Roger Huerta. Eddie has been considered for a long time to be among the top 10 lightweights in the world.
So with Bellator finally being recognised for their talent pool, it is only a matter of time before more of their stars make the transition to the UFC.
Here are my top five Bellator stars who should be next.
One half of the feared "Pitbull" brothers, Patricio Freire had smashed his way through his competition in Brazil, amassing a 12-0 record before bursting on to the American scene with Bellator in 2010.
Since his arrival in the Chicago-based promotion, Freire has racked up and impressive 5-1 record with wins over William Romero, Wilson Reis (twice) Georgi Georgi Karakhanyan and Daniel Straus. Those wins led him to the final of the season two featherweight tournament (which he lost to former champion Joe Warren via split-decision) and to win the season four tournament.
A broken hand has so far halted his shot at the title but when he returns and eventually does get his chance, he will be a handful for anyone.
At only 24 years old and with a 17-1 record, there is no doubt that Patricio if destined for the UFC.
Another guy who is just 24 years of age and has proven himself over high talent is current Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran.
Curran has won two lightweight tournaments in Bellator and is currently on a 4-fight win streak which includes wins over Ronnie Mann, Marlon Sandro and (then champion) Joe Warren.
Pat is a well rounded fighter with an overall record of 17-4, which includes five wins by knockout and five by submission, and definitely looks set to be a future UFC fighter.
Eduardo "Dudu" Dantas has been in the headlines lately as Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has been raving that Dantas is the best bantamweight in the world. While that is an extraordinary claim for a man who has yet to face top level competition in a talent-rich weight class, Dantas certainly has the potential and time to make it a reality.
The 23-year-old entered Bellator from Shooto, where he was also champion, "Dudu" has ran through the talent in Bellator with wins over Wilson Reis, Ed West, Alexis Villa and then Zach Makovsky to win the belt back in April at Bellator 65.
The Nova Uniao product is now on a seven-fight win streak and is 14-2 in his professional career.
Imagine this wiz-kid facing off with guys like Menjivar, Jorgensen, Pickett and possibly even Barao, Faber or Cruz. Everyone of those fights would be worth paying for.
Two-time NCAA champion. Olympic wrestler. Perfect record in his MMA career. Bellator Champion. These are all fixtures on Ben "Funky" Askren's growing resumé.
Askren is a guy who's wrestling is at the very top level in the sport and who is quickly building a legacy in the MMA world. With a perfect record of 10-0 so far and wins over very tough guys like Nick Thompson, Lyman Good, Jay Hieron and Dan Hornbuckle, you'd think surely it's only a matter of time before Ben tests himself against the best in the world.
Askren, however, does himself no favours. His fights have been mostly labelled boring as he has been accused of using "Lay and Pray" tactics to grind out decision wins. Combine that with the fact that Dana White has publicly spoke of his disinterest in Askren's fights and you have a guy who isn't exactly the most marketable fighter in the world.
Currently training at Roufusport, working on his stand up skills, the 27-year-old Askren will only get better and better. Surely we will see him feature in the UFC at some point?
Michael Chandler vs Eddie Alvarez (full fight)
Michael Chandler is another NCAA All-American with a 10-0 record, but he is a hell of a lot more marketable and likely to enter the UFC than Ben Askren.
Chandler has finished eight of his 10 opponents in his pro career, four by submission and four by knockout. His current perfect run includes wins over Mercin Held, Lloyd Woodward and Patricky Freire in the Bellator lightweight tournament before beating Eddie Alvarez in a "Fight of the Year" to become the lightweight champion at Bellator 58. The fight actually took place on the same night as Dan Henderson and "Shogun" Rua put on their epic battle.
Chandler recently proved last weekend that he is no flash in the pan as he knocked out Japanese legend Akihiro Gono in just 56 seconds, causing Gono to retire after the fight.
He is also the third lightweight mentioned in this slideshow, so the UFC isn't the only place with a stacked lightweight division. But Michael Chandler is the real deal who I cannot wait to see test himself in the UFC.