It was at Bellator 58 that Chandler shocked the world when he finished Alvarez by rear naked choke in the fourth round to become the new Bellator Lightweight champion. That loss became a sore subject, as Chandler questioned Alvarez's heart after tapping to the choke.
That loss also appeared to be the exact moment when Alvarez began to mentally "check out" from the idea of being a Bellator fighter. He had two more fights on his original contract and was hoping to test the free agency waters like former Bellator Middleweight champion Hector Lombard.
Alvarez received a very lucrative offer from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) that included possibly pay-per-view points and a potential title shot with then Lightweight champion, Benson Henderson. The contract was matched, at least on paper, by Bellator, who still had "matching rights" to the former champion.
That's when the relationship soured.
Alvarez decided to challenge the validity in the courts, hoping that a judge would recognize that while the terms were the same, the earning potential was far greater under the UFC's contract. Alvarez was unable to secure an early judgement and it was likely to become an extensive legal battle.
Ultimately, both sides were able to negotiate a new contract with unique rumored terms. Alvarez would rematch Chandler on Bellator's pay-per-view debut. If he was victorious, he would owe the promotion one final fight before getting cut loose. If he lost, he would be an unrestricted free-agent.
Last night, Alvarez met Chandler for a second time. The stakes were incredibly high for both men, who rose to the occasion and brought the very best out of one another. It was ultimately Alvarez who was awarded a split decision victory and the Bellator lightweight title.
So with the fight in the books, the question remains: what's next for Eddie Alvarez?
The short answer is a third and final bout with Chandler. As per the terms of the new agreement, Alvarez owes Bellator one final fight. And obviously, the most lucrative fight the promotion can make is the rubber match with the now former champion.
And Bjorn Rebney echoed that possibility when asked at the Bellator 106 post-fight press conference at the Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California.
You know, it's funny. You'd think that'd be the first thing I'd be thinking about immediately after the fight but I'm still in a bit of awe in terms of what those two guys did. Obviously now that it's 1-1 and literally in my mind, it's the two best fights that I've ever seen...Just two guys that can match each other so beautifully with their skill sets, I think you just get violent artistry inside the cage. So, yeah, absolutely I'd do it again. I'd do it again in a heart beat. First and foremost, Mike's gotta get well, Ed's gotta get well. Once you're physiologically ready to get back in, I'd do that again in a heart beat.
Outside of the rematch with Chandler, there's really no other interesting matchup in Bellator. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fans expect Alvarez to sign an immediate contract with the UFC when his current deal is finally up. And that's when the possibilities become endless.
Alvarez can possibly follow in the footsteps of Hector Lombard and Ben Askren by entering the free-agent market with championship gold around his waist.