The ears of mixed martial arts (MMA) fans everywhere undoubtedly perked up a bit when news of a meeting between members of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight elite, Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez, was announced for the UFC Fight Night 81 card on Jan. 17, 2016.
"Showtime" will make his return to the Octagon following the loss of his title to Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 185, while the ex-Bellator titleholder Alvarez seeks to record back-to-back wins in ZUFFA for the first time after ousting two-time title challenger Gilbert Melendez via split decision back in June.
Alvarez, who fancies himself a gritty, back-and-forth battle anticipates another one in his future inside TD Garden (via MMA Noise):
"I love the matchup for myself. I feel like every guy he's fought, who was like me -- who was not even as good of a version as me -- has beaten him. I feel like he's beaten the guys he's should've beaten and he's lost to the guys he should've lost to. I feel like I'm going to exploit where he needs work and not only that, stand-up wise, my ability to take damage and continue to give damage will overwhelm him."
Milwaukee's own Pettis has been overwhelmed at times in the past, especially during his last outing in March against the Brazilian brute Dos Anjos. The 28-year-old was dismantled by the forward pressure of the King's MMA standout and also had his orbital bone broken in the beatdown.
Alvarez, meanwhile, is perhaps best known for his scraps with Michael Chandler, who he split a pair of title tussles against.
The Blackzilians star debuted in UFC to much fanfare when he was slotted opposite then surging contender Donald Cerrone at UFC 178 in Sept. 2014. Alvarez ultimately lost in a one-sided contest, but rebounded with a victory over Melendez this past summer.
A win for both men would bolster their cases for a lightweight title shot, which may or may not be set back several months due to this Irish champion's bold aspirations.
For more on the UFC Fight Night 81: "Dillashaw vs. Cruz" card, click here.