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Fightweets: All things Eddie Alvarez

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Esther Lin

In case you slept through the entire week just woke up, Eddie Alvarez was briefly a free agent Tuesday. And with that news, and the subsequent info that he signed with the UFC, came shockwaves which affected everything from Bellator's locker room to the UFC's lightweight division to the already stacked UFC 178.

So as the UFC gets ready to bludgeon us with another doubleheader day, the former Bellator lightweight champ's move to the UFC is the dominant theme in this week's edition of Fightweets.

Did Bellator make the right move?

@RuckerYeah: Obviously Alvarez is happy, but was this the right move for Bellator?

Letting Alvarez out of his contract to go to the UFC was a slam-dunk move by Bellator CEO Scott Coker, on several levels. There seems to be a train of thought in regards to the decision-makers in mixed martial arts: One is either cutthroat and ruthless, or a total pushover, with no in-between allowed.

Since Coker's soft-spoken and cordial, he gets mistaken for the latter.

But make no mistake, Coker's a smart businessman. This is a guy who took a local kickboxing promotion and morphed it into the world's second-biggest MMA company, one with both network television and premium cable clearances. You don't get from point A to point B like that by being a softie.

Coker understood that previous CEO Bjorn Rebney left behind a poisonous atmosphere in the locker room, one which left many of the sport's biggest camps and agents hesitant to work with the company in any capacity. By letting someone who didn't want to be there leave, Coker sent out the signal to the rest of the company, and the sport at large, that the tone is changing. Letting Alvarez go now should make it easier to retain current talent and attract both up-and-comers and free agents.

And it was also smart on another level. Alvarez had one fight left on his deal, after which he was free and clear. What good would it have done if Alvarez won his final fight in what would have been a big spotlight, then head for the hills? (Granted, that would have been a two-way game of chicken, since if Alvarez lost, he would have also lost leverage). Coker avoided that risk and simultaneously demonstrated sane people are running the ship. That's not a matter of being a nice guy, it's a matter of being a sound-minded leader.

No payoff to Alvarez-Chandler

@DanWiseman4886: Hey Dave, do we ever now get to see Alvarez/Chandler 3? The chandler loss means it lost some steam but id still love to see it

This is pretty much my only regret coming out of the Alvarez situation: The fact that what seemed like the inevitable trilogy fight between Alvarez and Chandler might never happen. Their first fight in 2011 was widely considered the greatest Bellator fight ever. Their rematch last November possibly topped it. It was easily one of the top 10 greatest fights I've seen live in my eight-plus years covering this sport, possibly top five. Had a third fight been as exciting as the first two, I'm on board with the notion it would have been the greatest trilogy in MMA history.

Now? The only way it happens is if Chandler jumps ship, or if Alvarez washes out of the UFC. In the former case, Chandler's under a contract that by all accounts treats him pretty well. In the latter, not only does that seem improbable, but Alvarez did somehow fall flat on his face, the luster of the trilogy fight would be dimmed. What we're left with was a pair of fighters who brought out the best in one another and finished even at a fight apiece. And in a way, that seems fitting.

Title shot for Cerrone-Alvarez winner?

@CHINO_BANKS: Pettis has beaten Cerrone and Henderson. Is the setup there to place Alvarez as next in line?

You know, at first, my answer to this was a flat-out "no," since Alvarez hasn't been the most active of challengers. But the more I thought things through, the more I'm coming around to not only the idea Alvarez might be next in line if he wins at UFC 178, but I actually wouldn't rule out a title shot for Cerrone if he wins, either.

A look through the list of contenders shows Ben Henderson in limbo, vets on their way down, and up-and-comers not quite there.

After Pettis and Melendez, Henderson's a clear-cut No. 3, heading into Saturday night's fight with Rafael dos Anjos. UFC's plainly in no rush to match Henderson up with Pettis again after Pettis beat him twice. The door could open if Henderson keeps winning and Melendez beats Pettis, since Melendez was basically robbed against Henderson when Bendo was champ and no doubt wants another crack at him. Aside from Henderson? Josh Thomson has dropped two in a row. T.J. Grant has yet to return. Khabib Nurmagomedov is still a couple wins away from being in real title-contender position.

Into that vacuum step Alvarez and Cerrone. If Alvarez wins? You've got the guy who was Bellator champion coming off an exciting win over the legit Michael Chandler and then ending Cerrone's hot streak. (And should Melendez beat Pettis, you've got a ready-made grudge, as the Melendez-Alvarez beef has gone on for years). If Cerrone wins, there's never going to be a better time for him to get a title shot than having won five in a row in a span of a year, which I think overrides the earlier loss to Pettis, should it come to that. So given the inertia in the rest of the division, yeah, I think you can do far worse than calling Alvarez and Cerrone a title eliminator.

The King's quandary

@JoggyBernabe: What happened to Bobby Green?

He'll be back. It kind of sucks that Green got jerked around the way he did, ultimately getting pulled from a UFC 178 fight against Cerrone. But this is a guy who had 25 pro fights before he got a look from the UFC, so he's earning his points with the company by taking one for the team. The fact he tweeted "Its cool u just have to understand how the food chain works I'm not tripping about a damn thing lol." He's on an eight-fight win streak. He's capable of exciting fights. I'm sure wherever he lands, his next fight will be in a solid spot against a solid foe.

Will fans walk out on Mighty Mouse?

@MMAFANZ0NE: Do you think people will leave 178 after the Cowboy-Alvarez fight like Johnson's last fight?

I wouldn't rule it out, but I don't think so. Let's not forget the circumstances at UFC 174, when people started walking out during Johnson's unanimous decision, main-event win over Ali Bagautinov. The crowd in Vancouver was basically there to see returning hometown hero Rory MacDonald in the co-main event, and they got what they wanted. I don't see a similar dynamic at UFC 178. Who knows? Donald Cerrone vs. Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor, if they live up to their potential, could very well be back-to-back barnburners which leave the crowd spent, especially with DJ taking on an unheralded challenger in Chris Cariaso. But it's not like people were leaving previous Mighty Mouse fights in droves and there isn't the obvious hometown angle the last show had, so if I had to put money down, I'd bet against it happening.

Why isn't Mighty Mouse a superstar?

@MIkeJBknows: Fans complain @UFC doesn't build stars yet Mighty Mouse headlines they don't want to watch. Hypocritical right?

Ehh, not sure about that one. Look, I'm as big a Mighty Mouse booster as any. He's as talented a fighter as there is in the sport, I enjoy his fights, and I'm pretty sure a good chunk of his most troll-like critics wouldn't dare snark like they do if he was a 6-foot-tall light heavyweight instead of 5-3 and 125 pounds.

That said, star building is a two-way street. UFC's done their part, giving him exposure on network TV several times and double-billing him on PPV cards before they rolled the dice on headlining a show solo. But Johnson has repeatedly made it clear he doesn't care much about hype and is going to let his work in the cage do the talking for him. He's glad if the fans appreciate his performances, but he's not going to lose any sleep if he they don't. That's cool, and you can respect the consistency of his position. But it shouldn't come as a surprise if the people hear that a fighter doesn't care if they love him or not, and conclude they don't love him.

Got a question for a future Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and leave me a tweet.