Bellator Lightweight champion spent the majority of 2013 on the shelf fighting a contract dispute with the promotion. After months spent arguing about Bellator's right of first refusal regarding the UFC's offer to Alverez, the two parties finally settled and Alvarez returned to action at Bellator 106 to challenge Michael Chandler for the title.
After five back-and-forth rounds, Alvarez was awarded the split decision victory. At a media event on Friday, he spoke to MMA Fighting. Ariel Helwani asked him how he's feeling following the legal dispute and heading into the rubber match against Chandler:
That's in the past - the whole court issue and everything like that. I'm back fighting again and that's what I enjoy. Everything sorta feels normal now. That year off didn't feel normal. I didn't have any fights booked it was hard to get excited and motivated to train.
We weren't able to do the first one on pay-per-view and I definitely wanted to headline a PPV card. We get an opportunity to do that. What better way to do that than to have one of the best trilogies in MMA history. Why not fight the guy 3 times, 4 times, 5 times? It's a hell of a fight every time.
The official date for their third encounter hasn't been announced yet, but Alvarez makes it clear that Bellator intends to make it a PPV headliner. It will be the promotion's second shot at the PPV business. Bellator 106 was originally slated to be their first leap, but an injury to headliner Tito Ortiz dropped him out of his fight against Quinton Jackson. Projections for the buyrate were low, but once Alvarez and Chandler got bumped to main event and the show dropped to Spike TV it scored record ratings for Bellator.
He told Ariel he expects Chandler to come in better conditioned than ever before, motivated by the title loss. However, he doesn't expect a lot of improvement in technique with only six months to work. It's unclear whether Alvarez meant six months from the time of the interview or from their fight in October.
As far as what's next following the rubber match, Eddie says, "I don't know." He said he's 'scared' of the word 'contract' and will wait and see what happens in the fallout of his next fight.