Eddie Alvarez (25-3), the lightweight champ (155) at Bellator, has been released by the company. He will now take on Donald Cerrone (24-6-0-1) at UFC 178. Alvarez has a tough test in front of him, and will need to execute properly to get in the win column. “Cowboy” is a bit of a high-class gatekeeper at this stage of his career, and a win over him would lend credence to Alvarez’ campaign.
178 looked like a sub-par card with the recent postponement of the Jon Jones (20-1) and Daniel Cormier (15-0) light heavyweight (205) title clash, but the addition of Alvarez-Cerrone brings a little flavor to the table. The winner of this one may be in line for a title shot in the near future, if current belt holder Anthony Pettis (17-2) manages to stop getting injured. It has not been “Showime” for Pettis in almost a year. He has a tough fight with Gilbert Melendez (22-3) coming up in December, and may just relinquish his title to the former Strikeforce champion.
As far as the Cerrone fight, I do not think much of Donald. I think Alvarez likely beats him, as most of the top fighters in the lightweight division do. Cerrone simply gets caught too often with big shots, and loses every time he steps up. Pettis stopped Cerrone in 2 minutes and 35 seconds. Benson Henderson (21-3), the former UFC champ, already beat him twice. Nate Diaz (17-9) gave him a historic whooping. Edson Barboza (14-2) had Cerrone badly hurt before his own below average chin failed him. Cowboy has good kicks but does not punch well, and does not bring anything really threatening to Alvarez as an opponent. He will provide a good litmus test for Alvarez, but I expect Cerrone to get picked apart when he throws his wild strikes. Cerrone will always provide excitement, but that excitement will not translate to a championship no matter how hard the UFC wants to push him on the public.
If Eddie makes it past Cerrone, I think he matches up well with Pettis, Melendez, Henderson, and the rest of the division’s elite. Bellator may be the minor leagues, but not every fighter there is on that level. Alvarez seemed to be a bit ahead of the curve at Bellator, and his skills should translate well to the UFC. Another name added to an already fairly stacked division gives the fans even more great, competitive contests to watch. Alvarez has more than enough talent to compete with the upper echelon of the UFC, and fans may be looking at the new lightweight champion of the world.