Updates from Thursday, July 31
MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani provides the latest on Eddie Alvarez's reported move to the UFC:
According to reports, Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez is now a member of the UFC, and he already has his first fight lined up: a UFC 178 tilt opposite Top 10 staple Donald Cerrone on Sept. 27.
The news was first reported Wednesday night by Sherdog. Per Josh Sanchez of Fansided, rumors have swirled over the last week of a mystery fight being in the works for UFC 178, and some speculated days ago that the UFC had successfully spirited Alvarez into the promotion.
The news is somewhat surprising given the fact that Alvarez remains the reigning Bellator lightweight champion, and a rubber match with Bellator poster boy Michael Chandler remains one of the biggest fights the promotion can make.
Bellator's first pay-per-view event, Bellator 120, initially featured Alvarez vs. Chandler 3 as its main event, but the fight was scuttled when Alvarez suffered a concussion before the fight. The bout was replaced by an interim lightweight title fight between Michael Chandler and Will Brooks, which Brooks would win via controversial split decision.
Still, it is a logical move for the promotion insofar as Alvarez's contract with Bellator has just one fight remaining. The promotion likely isn't willing to match the UFC's offer, which included a substantial cut of pay-per-view buyrates, and the ugly contract dispute between Alvarez and Bellator in 2013 likely made divorce inevitable.
With Bellator leaving weekly shows behind and shaking up its boardroom, setting Alvarez free allows the promotion to invest in its future and sends a strong "brand-new day" message.
With a relatively deep pool of talent that includes Chandler, Brooks, Marcin Held, Patricky Freire, Dave Jansen, Derek Anderson, Rick Hawn and David Rickels, the lightweight division remains one of its best, even without Alvarez.
Cerrone vs. Alvarez is a massive opportunity for both men, and it has serious title ramifications. The winner could easily end up fighting for the belt in 2015 following the upcoming showdown between Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez.
It's also an absolute treat for fans, as both fighters are known for their finishing skills and exciting styles.
UFC 178 is headlined by the light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. Where Cerrone vs. Alvarez will be placed on the card is currently unknown, so keep an eye on Bleacher Report for more details as they become available.