At UFC Fight Night on Thursday, Eddie Alvarez will challenge for the UFC lightweight championship, in a bit of a historic moment for the former Bellator champion.
Alvarez will get his shot after one of the most public battles with his former employer, Bellator, who at one point under different management, tried to block him going to the UFC. So when Alvarez, 27-4, takes on Rafael Dos Anjos, win or lose, will be a crowning achievement for the fighter, who has taken a long and winding journey to the title shot.
And at least one man, a man who knows Alvarez well, believes that the challenger will come out on top Thursday night. Michael Chandler, the Bellator lightweight champion and Alvarez's biggest foe not named Bjorn Rebney believes Alvarez will win the gold.
"You are going to see Michael Chandler, champion of Bellator and Eddie Alvarez, champion of the UFC at the same exact time," said Chandler, in an interview with SiriusXM RUSH. "I think he beats RDA. I hope he does. It will be interesting and it will be cool and interesting to see us both as champions in separate organizations at the same time."
Chandler and Alvarez engaged in two of MMA's most celebrated fights. Chandler upset Alvarez, defeating him by rear-naked choke on Nov. 19, 2011. It was an incredible back-and-forth fight. Alvarez then defeated Chandler in an even better catch-as-catch-can fight, winning by split decision. The two earned mutual respect for one another through those fights and Chandler thinks it will be historic to see the two guys as champions in different organizations.
Chandler will always remember those fights.
"Every now and then, you gotta remember where you came from," Chandler said. "You gotta remember how tough and how hard you worked and how tough you truly are. It's not always easy. You have a hard day of sparring and you can get down on yourself. You can go back and watch that fight and go, 'dang, you are a freaking nut.' You are nuts and when you are inside that cage not many people can hang with you and hang with that style that you have. It's great to have that in my back pocket and I can got and watch those. Luckily they are on YouTube."
(Image courtesy of Bellator)