Former Bellator legend Eddie Alvarez is finally free and will soon fight in the UFC against Donald Cerrone. Yikes. That’s a tough fight for Alvarez, who, if he thinks the path to UFC gold will be easy, could be in for a big surprise.
Alvarez has long been considered one of the best lightweights in the world, but has never faced the kind of competition that would prove that. He waged two epic wars with Michael Chandler, two fights that certainly have been the highlights of his career.
Alvarez, however, may find it tougher in the UFC, particularly at this stage of his career. At 30, he’s walking into a stacked lightweight division. One loss could set you back two years before you get a title shot.
Alvarez has a remarkable record of 25-3, but his three losses have been by finish, two by submission and one by knockout. Can he withstand Donald Cerrone’s punches. Alvarez had to make a decision about whether to be a big fish in a little pond or attempt to be a big fish in a big pond. He famously tried to leave Bellator for the UFC two years ago, but Bellator’s ex-CEO Bjorn Rebney stopped it. He exercised the company’s right to sign Alvarez first if he could match the UFC’s offer, and, after a long court battle, he won, when Alvarez and Bellator came to an agreement.
The public sort of envisioned it as Rebney trying to keep Alvarez from the UFC. But new Bellator leader Scott Coker freed Alvarez, releasing him from his contract. Now Alvarez is ready to fight Cerrone in the UFC on Sept. 27.
Alvarez recently said in an interview with MMA Fighting that that he’s in the UFC “to be the champion, bottom line. Whoever wants to fight me before I get that opportunity, it’s going to be hell for them.”
The fighter certainly has a reason to be confident, but he should also respect the talent already in the UFC. A myriad number of fighters have moved from other organizations expecting to win UFC gold, only to fall short. Among the biggest names have been Jake Shields, Gilbert Melendez, Nick Diaz, Hector Lombard and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. More than a dozen other fighters have been highly touted in other organizations and then lost in the UFC.
Cerrone will not be an easy fight for Alvarez. In fight, it’s a tough fight. It’s probably a tougher fight than it would be with Melendez. Melendez would come at Alvarez and turn it into a war and Alvarez would have a chance to knock Melendez out. Cerrone is big and likes to keep his range. He hits hard and might be able to frustrate the smaller Alvarez.
After all the hoopla and drama, Alvarez will finally get his shot in the UFC? Will he deliver or be just another guy who almost did. Only he knows.