Eddie Alvarez vs Gilbert Melendez? Bellator champ responds to recent challenge from 'El Nino'

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CHICAGO, Ill. (May 15, 2010) - Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney responded today to Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez's call-out of reigning Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez, saying that he will do everything in his power to make the fight happen.

Melendez, appearing on this weekend's edition of HDNet's "Inside MMA," told hosts Kenny Rice and Bas Rutten that he would "love to fight Eddie Alvarez."

"I think he's an amazing fighter and that's why I call out Eddie Alvarez - let's unify those titles," Melendez said. "I'd love to fight that guy and test myself. I think if I could beat him, I could be No. 1 and vice-versa."

Rebney said an Alvarez-Melendez fight would be "a great matchup between two of the best in the world."

"As an MMA fan, first and foremost, Alvarez versus Melendez is an awesome fight at 155 that deserves to be seen and needs to be made," Rebney said. "Gilbert has the heart of a warrior, just like our champion Eddie. I will do everything I can to get Gilbert what he asked for. Gilbert wants the fight, Eddie wants the fight and I want the fight. All we have to do is get Scott Coker on board and together we can make this happen. Eddie wants to fight the best and Gilbert wants to fight the best and there is no reason why any promoter or network should stand in the way of that."

Alvarez (22-2) was crowned Bellator's Lightweight World Champion last summer and is now the consensus No. 3-ranked 155-pounder in the world. He reaffirmed that status earlier this month with an impressive rear-naked-choke submission of former UFC standout Josh Neer before a nationwide audience on FOX Sports Net, NBC and Telemundo.

Melendez (20-2) won the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship belt from Josh Thomson last December and then defended the title late last month with a dominating unanimous decision victory over Shinya Aoki before a national TV audience on CBS. The 28-year-old is generally regarded as one of the top lightweights in the world.

Reached at his home in Philadelphia on Saturday, the 26-year-old Alvarez said he would relish the chance to take on Melendez on a national stage.

"Gilbert is a great fighter who's got a lot of momentum going right now," Alvarez said. "This is the match-up that all the fans want to see and it'd be a shame if it didn't happen. I want to do it, Bjorn wants to do it and it sounds like Gilbert wants to do it. If I could sum up my thoughts in four words, it'd be: ‘Let's make it happen.'"

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