Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Bellator's most talked about rematch is now a reality.
Announced Thursday morning, former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez is slated to meet DREAM lightweight champion Shinya Aoki on April 20 in the main event of Bellator 66, held at the I-X Center in Cleveland, OH. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney confirmed the match-up via Twitter.
Alvarez and Aoki first met at DREAM/K-1's co-promoted Dynamite!! 2008 New Year's Eve event, where Aoki needed just 92 seconds to catch Alvarez in a vicious heel hook and earn the WAMMA lightweight strap.
The 28-year-old Alvarez (22-3) rebounded by embarking on a seven-fight win streak that propelled him to the inaugural Bellator 155-pound belt and a perennial spot atop the division's rankings. In that time the Philadelphian finished six-straight opponents within three rounds, including dominant wins over UFC veterans Josh Neer and Roger Huerta.
However, Alvarez's run came to an untimely end last November, when Season 4 tournament winner Michael Chandler stunned the champion with a fourth-round rear-naked choke to cap one of the year's most electrifying fights. Alvarez initially campaigned for a rematch against Chandler, but ultimately settled on Aoki after establishing his goal of fighting only top-ranked lightweights.
The 28-year-old Aoki (30-5, 1 NC), meanwhile, has stormed to a 11-2 record since the Dynamite!! 2008 show, including a recent seven-fight win streak highlighted by first-round submission victories over Tatsuya Kawajiri, Lyle Beerbohm, and Rob McCullough. He last fought at DREAM's massive year-end event, Genki Desu Ka Omisoka 2011, where he handedly defeated former training partner and Sengoku champion Satoru Kitaoka via unanimous decision.
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