clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UFC 178: What we learned from Donald Cerrone vs Eddie Alvarez

At UFC 178, UFC fighter Donald Cerrone defeated former Bellator top dog Eddie Alvarez. So what did this teach us about the UFC vs. Bellator debate? Less than you may think.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

There was a certain catharsis to Saturday night's co-main event of UFC 178. On paper, the fight was Donald Cerrone vs. Eddie Alvarez, but it was seen as so much more than that. It was UFC vs. Bellator. It was the king of MMA promotions vs. all the worldwide contenders to the throne. And as the welt grew on the discolored and abused thigh of Alvarez the result became clear - this battle was won by the UFC.

The reactions to Cerrone's win were strong, but how you felt about it largely depended on how you feel about the 2nd tier of MMA organizations and which camp of fans you find yourself in.

To a certain contingent of fans, the UFC is the world's only MMA organization that matters. Fighters outside of the UFC have no reason to be ranked until they have proven themselves against the best. There's at times a passion to this view that borders on mania: "You think Daniel Straus is a reputable Lightweight? You must be an idiot!" For this breed of fan, Cerrone's win was vindication - Alvarez lost, Bellator fighters can't hang in the UFC. Q.E.D.

On the other side you will find the fans who want that competition for the UFC. Whether it's from an appreciation for the old Pride vs. UFC days, or a memory of the success found by WEC veterans making the move to the Octagon, these are fans who look beyond the shiny gloss of the Zuffa machine to find the world's top fighters, arguing that men like Ben Askren and, yes, Eddie Alvarez deserve to be considered among the world's best. For these fans, the Alvarez loss was a tough blow - the clear cut best Lightweight outside of the UFC taken apart and chopped down to size.

The trouble with either view is that it extrapolates too much from a single moment. What we learned Saturday night is relatively straightforward - that after a rather significant period of inactivity, Eddie Alvarez could compete with but not defeat Donald Cerrone. Period. To argue more is to draw a false parallel between disparate events.

And yet that's what we do. We use isolated examples to demonstrate our preconceived notions, regardless of what the facts actually say.

UFC supporter? "No Bellator fighter has found success in the UFC! Bellator sucks! Hector Lombard? Well he's fighting down a weight class so it doesn't count."

Supporter of other organizations? "Alvarez was out for too long - just wait until he comes back!"

Perhaps that's because the truth is far less dramatic, and therefore, to some, far less interesting. This was ultimately not the story of a worldwide war between the forces of good and evil in MMA, not the single moment that demonstrated how every non-UFC fighter in the world stacks up against Team Zuffa.

Instead, it was a tremendous fight between two of the world's best. Nothing more, nothing less. Can that be enough?