Eddie Alvarez didn’t take long to dethrone Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 90 in Las Vegas Thursday night. It took the Philadelphia native less than a round to take care of business, battering the champ and chasing him across the cage looking for a finish. Rocking RDA early, it felt like the hunt was on, and it was only a matter of time before Alvarez sealed the deal. A flying knee almost backfired, with the champ briefly landing on top, but Alvarez slipped free and continued to bring an impressive volume of punches to the reeling Brazilian. Having seen enough, ref Herb Dean would call off the fight while dos Anjos was still standing, but ultimately unable to intelligently defend himself.

It was a statement victory from Alvarez, who was granted the title shot off a pair of split decision wins against Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis. And it cemented Alvarez’s place in MMA history. Alvarez is now officially the first fighter to win both UFC and Bellator championships.

Of course, it nearly didn’t come to pass. For starters, Benson Henderson nearly beat him to the punch, but opted to take a title shot at welterweight, rather than his usual lightweight, earlier this year in Bellator. That gamble failed to pay off for the former UFC lightweight champion. Beyond that, however, there was a question of whether Alvarez would even make it to the UFC. After the promotion originally tried to sign him in 2012, Bellator opted to use their contract matching rights, which led to a protracted legal battle revolving around the UFC’s ability to offer Alvarez PPV dollars, and Bellator’s inability to match that (they argued they would begin to hold PPV events; to date, there has only been Bellator 100). Eventually, with the regime change at Bellator bringing in Scott Coker to run the show, the dark clouds lifted from over Eddie Alvarez, and he was allowed to leave the promotion after one final fight —  in which he won the Bellator lightweight championship for a second time, against Michael Chandler.

Long the best lightweight outside the UFC, Alvarez was warmly welcomed by fans, but fell short in his first UFC bout against Donald Cerrone. While Cowboy is by no means an easy fight for anyone, it felt momentarily like the UFC had another Hector Lombard situation on their hands. Then came the close decisions over Melendez and Pettis, and Alvarez seemed to be slowly getting back on track.

Now? The division is his oyster. More importantly, there are some important fights waiting for him inside and outside the UFC lightweight division. For starters, there’s Khabib Nurmagomedov, who seems to have been ready for a title shot since forever ago. Tony Ferguson has put his name in the hat, and there are fighters like Melendez and Cerrone who can now earn their way to another bout with Alvarez. Cerrone, in particular, would be a compelling match-up. He lost to dos Anjos for the lightweight title, and has since picked up a pair of wins at welterweight. Yet his earlier win over Alvarez would make for an interesting pairing. Beyond the division, however, you also have the ever-present, dollar-generating superstar that is Conor McGregor, no doubt game for a match-up with Alvarez at some point. And Frankie Edgar.

The Answer is the real answer to “who do we really want to see Eddie Alvarez fight.” For years, a bout between the two — with similar styles and hard-nosed, tough-chinned no-nonsense approaches to fighting — was a dream bout for many, especially when they were holding their respective belts in Bellator and the UFC. Though Edgar is now making his home in the UFC featherweight division, a trip back up against Alvarez would be a must see fight.

Now that Jose Aldo has won a chance at Conor McGregor, Edgar just might be game for another shot at lightweight.

In the meantime, Alvarez can bask in the glory of having made history.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.