Within hours of Bellator MMA announcing that it had cut embattled lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez loose, free and clear of any contractual obligations, the former No. 1 lightweight in the world signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Not only did Alvarez sign with the UFC, company officials on Tuesday announced that his first bout would be against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 178 in Las Vegas.
SEE ALSO: Bellator Releases Champion Eddie Alvarez
Alvarez has gone through a roller coaster of trials and tribulations during his time with Bellator, butting heads for the past couple of years over his contract status.
Following a lengthy legal battle that had Alvarez’s fate bouncing around between lawyers, new Bellator president Scott Coker on Tuesday announced that the promotion no longer wanted to tie Alvarez up in a contract battle, when he really didn’t want to fight for them. The move represented a marked shift from the old Bellator regime under the guidance of Bjorn Rebney.
Part of Alvarez’s contract battle had to do with him attempting to sign with the UFC about a year ago, following the completion of his initial Bellator contract. It became a tangled mess over matching rights and whether or not the UFC offer was truly matched, but ended in Alvarez acquiescing to Bellator and its parent company Viacom, so that he might continue his career in the cage instead of the courtroom.
UFC officials had no comment upon Alvarez’s initial release, but the wheels were obviously in motion behind the scenes, as his contract and first fight were in place about four to five hours later.
Cerrone had initially been slated to face Bobby Green at UFC 178, but when Alvarez became available, the UFC quickly shifted gears. The UFC is now working to find a new opponent for Green and is targeting an undisclosed November date for his rescheduled bout.
UFC 178 takes place on Sept. 27 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, and features a flyweight championship main event pitting titleholder Demetrious Johnson against challenger Chris Cariaso.