It was a long time coming, but according to Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com, Bellator has released Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez from his contract, making him a free agent.
Scott Coker confirmed the story with ESPN Tuesday afternoon, which is huge for the free-agent market.
Alvarez, who famously had a huge legal battle with Bellator, returned to the company after a long litigation with former boss Bjorn Rebney and the company. He eventually returned to the company for a rematch with Michael Chandler, winning a decision to take the 155-pound belt.
He now becomes the hottest and most talented free agent on the market. Not only that, but also he leaves a company he has tried to get away from for well over a year in favor of the UFC, where he will likely end up.
The release seems to be a great move for three parties involved.
First off, it's great for Alvarez, as he finally gets his wish to leave the company. His intentions were to leave Bellator for the UFC, and it now appears that he will get that wish.
It's also great for the UFC, as it will likely end up with a top-10 lightweight in the world. He is a draw that can make an immediate impact at 155 pounds, which could use some fresh contenders in the division.
Finally, it is actually good for Bellator. The entire Alvarez court case was a black mark on Bellator as a company, as most fans wanted to let Rebney and company let him go. Instead, it looked like a tyrant keeping a fighter from going to greener pastures for more money.
Now Bellator has allowed Alvarez to follow his desires while saving some face for itself.
Alvarez currently holds a record of 25-3, as he has beaten the likes of Chandler, Patricky Freire, Shinya Aoki, Pat Curran and Roger Huerta. His last bout was in November of last year, when he defeated Chandler for the belt.
Obviously, the UFC has not signed Alvarez yet, but it's because he was just released today. Expect the world's largest MMA promotion to make a quick move on him and, in turn, put him on an upcoming card.