October 12th will mark Bellator's return to Canada, and it's headlined by an excellent lightweight encounter between Eddie Alvarez and Patricky "Pitbull" Freire. It's also important because it's the final fight of Alvarez's contract, which would make him one of the highest profile free agents in MMA today. Bellator president Bjorn Rebney was interviewed by MMA Fighting on Alvarez's future with the promotion, and signs (unsurprisingly) point to the former lightweight champion leaving them after his fight with Pitbull.
"It's a fight I wanted to see two years ago," he said. "I always thought it would be an amazing fight, and it will be in all likelihood Eddie's last fight in our organization. God bless him, he's been awesome for us, and win, lose, or draw, he'll do incredibly well if he ends up going to the UFC. I know they have a huge amount of interest in him, and I think he'll probably win their title."
Asked if that meant he was conceding that Alvarez's future was elsewhere, Rebney didn't explicitly agree, but indicated the likelihood of it was high.
"I'm pretty excited about what we've got at 155," he said. "Obviously, Michael Chandler without any question or controversy, he submitted Ed. So he's the best of that group. I think Rick Hawn is a monster. "Tiger" [Alexander Sarnavskiy] isn't well known in the States but he's 21-0 and the top prospect in the world at 155. He's a beast. Pitbull is a monster. We have a stacked 155 division. I'm thrilled with what Sam and our team have done.
Alvarez (23-3 MMA, 7-1 Bellator) is of course the "former" lightweight champion after engaging in an epic battle against Michael Chandler which saw Chandler win via rear-naked choke in the 4th round. He recovered with a mauling of Shinya Aoki, successfully avenging a 2008 loss. The outcome of his fight with Pitbull is pretty important, as a win would see him still with just the one blemish on his record of the last 2-3 years, while a loss is not really something that favors Alvarez when negotiating with other organizations.
If Alvarez goes to the UFC it'd be another fantastic addition to one of the most talent-rich weight classes they have. It would also give Alvarez a chance to fight real "superfights" and not Josh Neer or Roger Huerta, and build upon his #11 status in the MMA Nation Consensus Rankings. In fact, with Clay Guida and Frankie Edgar headed for 145, a win would essentially assure he's a top 10 fighter and reasonably close to a title shot.