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Bellator Smart to Call Out Strikeforce on Alvarez-Melendez Fight

Outside the UFC, the best lightweight fight that could possibly happen in mixed martial arts is Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez against Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez. Alvarez wants to do it. Melendez wants to do it. The only thing standing in the way is Strikeforce, and now Bellator is calling Strikeforce out.

That's smart promoting, and more evidence that Bellator is committed to giving fans the best fights possible.

A couple of weeks ago Melendez mentioned that he thought Alvarez would be a good opponent for him, and since then Bellator has been banging the drum that it would be more than happy to get that deal done. During Thursday night's Bellator 20 show on Fox Sports Net, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney challenged Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker to book the fight.

"I said it last week, I would love to see that fight happen," Rebney said. "I'd love to see it as a CEO, I'd love to see it as a fan. Gilbert asked for that fight. Eddie responded, just across the board, 'Yes, yes, yes.' For nine days we've been trying to reach Scott Coker -- who heads up Strikeforce -- a couple of times a day. We've yet to get a response. I remain eternally optimistic."

If Rebney is telling the truth that he's been calling Coker regularly and can't even get a call back, that's disappointing. Coker has co-promoted with Dream and M-1 Global and has always said he's open to co-promoting with other organizations as well. At the very least, Coker needs to talk to Rebney and find out what it would take to do a deal.

So what would it take? For starters, it would have to be on a Strikeforce show. Strikeforce is a bigger promotion than Bellator and if Bellator wants to get its champion into the cage with Strikeforce's champion, it's going to have to do it on Strikeforce's turf. There's no way Strikeforce would lend out Melendez just to give Fox Sports Net a one-time bump in the ratings, but Bellator should be willing to put Alvarez on a Strikeforce card in an effort to help its best fighter reach a bigger audience.

It would also have to be a non-title fight. I love the idea of unifying the title belts among all the different MMA promotions, but that's just not realistic right now. When Strikeforce champions take on Dream champions, they do it in non-title fights, and the same would have to happen for Strikeforce to agree to put its champion in the cage with a Bellator champion.

And it would have to be scheduled at the right time. Melendez may be suspended for three months for his role in the April 17 Strikeforce brawl, and Alvarez is supposed to fight the Bellator Season 2 lightweight champion some time this summer. So a Melendez-Alvarez fight couldn't happen until the fall or winter.

But it could happen -- at least if you believe Rebney.

"I see the glass as half full," Rebney said. "I hope that we can get on the phone with Scott -- I hope he'll return -- and I hope he and I can sit down and make this fight happen. It would be a great fight. It would be a fight the fans would enjoy, and love to see. Eddie wants it, Gilbert wants it. Hopefully Scott and I can get together and make it happen."

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