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Will Brooks says would-be Bellator foe Eddie Alvarez 'can't run' from him this time

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Will Brooks and Eddie Alvarez were once two parts of an extremely talented triumvirate atop the Bellator MMA lightweight division, along with Michael Chandler.

Alvarez beat Chandler to win the title in 2013, but left Bellator for the UFC before he could defend it. Brooks won the interim belt while Alvarez was in limbo and then became undisputed champion with his second victory over Chandler in 2014.

Not being able to fight and beat Alvarez to win the title still irks Brooks to this day.

"I wanted to fight that guy before he left Bellator," Brooks told MMA Fighting in a recent interview. "And I'm not gonna talk too much about Bellator because that's the past and I'm moving forward. But I still don't feel validated because he was the champion and he left and I didn't get the opportunity to beat the champion to become the champion. I had to turn around and beat up his leftovers. Michael Chandler, I had to beat him up twice just to feel somewhat validated. That felt good to me."

Brooks signed with the UFC himself last month and has been booked to face Ross Pearson at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale on July 8 in Las Vegas. One night earlier in Vegas, Alvarez will challenge for the UFC lightweight title against champion Rafael dos Anjos.

With or without the title, Alvarez is in Brooks' sights, the talented American Top Team product said.

"I told Eddie before, I told people before," Brooks said. "He's on my list. He got out of that ass whooping that one time. He can't run this time. Where else is he gonna go? Is he gonna go back to Bellator, go somewhere else? Man, he can't run."

Brooks (18-1), who has not lost a fight since being knocked out by Saad Awaad in Bellator in 2013, has not been all that impressed by Alvarez's UFC run. Alvarez lost to Donald Cerrone in his debut, but came back to defeat former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez and former UFC champ Anthony Pettis to earn the title shot against dos Anjos. Both victories were gritty, grinding decisions.

"These are very lackluster fights that he put together," Brooks said. "I personally believe that I'll come in here and put on a way better show than what he's done."

Alvarez's showing in the UFC has been a statement on just how good that Bellator lightweight division was with him, Brooks and Chandler, who is coming off a first-round knockout win over Patricky Freire last month at Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2 to win the vacant lightweight title.

Brooks, though, is not looking at Alvarez's résumé or anyone else's coming into the UFC. The only thing Brooks is focused on is himself and climbing the crowded 155-pound ladder. Pearson is up first.

"I can't measure myself based off of what Alvarez has done," Brooks said. "We're all different individuals. Regardless of what you did in the other organization, what he does at the end of the day means nothing for me. I'm coming in 0-0. In my mind, I'm coming in 0-0. I'm a brand-new guy. I'm a fresh new face. I'm green as can be."