Wow, what a turnaround.
Initially circulating a matter of weeks ago, Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez was reportedly let go by the promotion, signing with the UFC and was set to fight Donald Cerrone in his debut at UFC 178.
Instead, it was rumoured that reports were far off and Alvarez was still in a contract with Bellator, which resulted in the UFC pulling Bobby Green from his bout with Jorge Masvidal on the same card to face Cerrone. Masvidal will fight James Krause on the undercard of UFC 178, while Green will fight on a different card against a yet-to-be-confirmed opponent.
Alvarez had a number of issues with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, and, as part of his contract agreement with the Viacom-owned promotion, was required to fight again for the promotion after defeating Michael Chandler to hold the title. After Scott Coker stepped in, the promotion have since attempted to squash the old ‘non-fighter friendly’ reputation, and this is one step towards doing just that.
The highly touted lightweight joins a talent stacked UFC lightweight division, with Anthony Pettis set to defend his title in January against former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez. In the meantime, Alvarez will face off against winner of four straight Donald Cerrone in a fight that could see the victor fight for the title next.
UFC 178 suffered a major blow when Jon Jones was ruled out of his title defence against Daniel Cormier, with a flyweight title fight between Demetrious Johnson and Chris Cariaso slotted to fill the void. Cerrone was originally scheduled to fight #7 ranked Bobby Green on the card, though will remain in the co-main event slot to fight an arguably tougher test in Eddie Alvarez.
The pair will meet on September 27 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV, as 22-3 Eddie Alvarez will make his highly awaited UFC debut.
The promotion confirmed the news with the following statement.
“Long considered the best lightweight fighter outside the UFC, Eddie Alvarez will now get his opportunity to join the Octagon elite. The 30-year-old Philadelphia native signed an exclusive contract with the UFC, the leading promotion in mixed martial arts on Tuesday following months of speculation about his future in the sport.
Alvarez’ first fight under the UFC banner will be a UFC 178 co-main event bout against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in Las Vegas on September 27. Cerrone’s original opponent for that date, Bobby Green, will face an opponent to be determined on a later card.”