Tonight, Bellator returns to MTV2 for Bellator 76, featuring the kick off of their latest tournament as 8 Featherweight fighters compete for a shot at Bellator Featherweight champion Pat Curran. It should be an excellent tournament, with fighters like Wagney Fabiano and Nazareno Melegarie taking part. But the real reason to tune in tonight is the non-tournament main event: Eddie Alvarez vs. Patricky Freire.
Alvarez vs. Pitbull is the kind of fight that would be a must watch in any situation. You're taking two aggressive, go for broke strikers, both with highlight reel finishes, and putting them against each other. That's a recipe for greatness. But tonight, the fight takes on extra relevance. Because this is likely to be the final time we see Eddie Alvarez fight inside the Bellator cage. Tonight's fight is the last on Alvarez's contract, making him a free agent. While nothing has been officially confirmed, both Alvarez and Bjorn Rebney have indicated that he is likely to look for opportunities in the UFC.
Bellator will survive the loss of Alvarez - they're not a particularly "star" driven company - but his departure will signify the end of an era.
When Bellator first launched in 2009, Alvarez was, make no mistake, THE star of the company. One of the hottest free agent talents of 2008, his signing was what drew a lot of hardcore MMA fan interest to Bellator. He was the main attraction on Bellator 1, won their first ever tournament, and claimed their inaugural Lightweight title. Over the years, he's been involved in some classic wars inside the Bellator cage, from his 2011 win over Pat Curran, to his classic loss last year against Michael Chandler, to his beatdown of Shinya Aoki earlier this year, Alvarez has been a part of some of Bellator's biggest fights. Through it all, he's remained a dynamic, thrilling fighter able to stop fights on a moment's notice while never giving up. He's the kind of fighter that makes watching MMA so thrilling, and over the past 3 years, he's brought those thrills to Bellator.
At Bellator 76, he tries to being that excitement one last time. And he has the perfect opponent for it. Patricky Pitbull would like nothing more than use his buzzsaw-style of Muay Thai to send Alvarez out on a loss. And he has the tools to do it. But to make it happen, he'll need to break Alvarez's will - and that's something very, very few have been able to accomplish.
Join us here tonight at Bloody Elbow for live Bellator coverage as we wish Alvarez farewell.
Bellator 76 Fight Card and Weigh-In Results:
Featherweight Feature Fight: Eddie Alvarez (154.4) vs. Patricky Pitbull (154.8)
Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinal Fight: Rad Martinez (146) vs. Nazareno Malegarie (145.8)
Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinal Fight: Mike Richman (145.4) vs. Jeremy Spoon (146)
Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinal Fight: Shabulat Shamhalaev (145.6) vs. Cody Bollinger (146)
Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinal Fight: Wagnney Fabiano (145.8) vs. Akop Stepanyan (146)
Lightweight Feature Fight: Jason Fischer (155.6) vs. Kyle Prepolec (155.6)
Lightweight Feature Fight: Ainsley Robinson (156) vs. Chad Laprise (155.4)
Middleweight Feature Fight: Ali Mokdad (184.8) vs. Simon Marini (185.6)
Welterweight Feature Fight: Domonic O'Grady (170.8) vs. AJ Matthews (170.4)
Featherweight Feature Fight: Nayeb Hezam (145.8) vs. Magomedrasul Khasbulaev (146)