Alvarez rules rematch for Bellator belt


Sequels often have a difficult time living up to the expectations created by the original.

Someone forgot to tell Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez.

Alvarez exacted revenge and regained the Bellator lightweight title by earning a split decision victory over Chandler in the main event of the organization’s card in Long Beach, Calif., on Saturday night.

Chandler had earned the belt by submitting Alvarez in the fourth round of a 2011 bout that is widely considered the best fight in Bellator history.

The rematch wasn’t far behind. Both fighters took huge shots early on and battled through the blood and swelling to put on a show that largely made people forget the card was originally supposed to be a pay-per-view event headlined by former UFC light heavyweight champions Tito Ortiz and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson squaring off. Ortiz was hurt and forced to pull out of the card less than two weeks ago, prompting a move to cable television and the Chandler-Alvarez fight to move into the headlining spot.

As for Jackson, he will instead make his Bellator debut on a Nov. 15 card in Atlantic City, N.J., against Joey Beltran. Ortiz says he will be ready to return soon.

■ FIGHT FOR THE TROOPS — The UFC will hold its third “Fight for the Troops” event on Wednesday at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

The audience is made up almost entirely of soldiers, and the event serves as a fundraiser for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

The nine-fight card, featuring a main event middleweight bout between Tim Kennedy and Rafael Natal, airs live on Fox Sports 1 (Cable 329) at 2 p.m.

Kennedy, a former Army Ranger, was one of the enlisted soldiers in attendance at the first Fight for the Troops event in 2008.

Former women’s bantamweight title challenger Liz Carmouche, a former Marine, will fight Alexis Davis. In all, four U.S. military veterans will be in action.

■ CRUZ SET TO RETURN — UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will finally return to action on Feb. 1 for a unification bout with interim champ Renan Barao at UFC 169 in Newark, N.J.

In the main event, featherweight champion Jose Aldo will defend his belt against Ricardo Lamas.

The two title fights were announced for the Super Bowl weekend card after previous reports indicated light heavyweight champion Jon Jones would headline the event against Glover Teixeira. Those reports proved premature, leaving the organization in search of star attractions to headline the card that will take place just down the highway from the site of the Super Bowl the night before the game.

Cruz has not fought since defending the belt against current flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson on Oct. 1, 2011, due to a pair of knee surgeries. Barao won the interim belt in his absence and has defended it once.

The card also features a heavyweight bout between Alistair Overeem and Las Vegan Frank Mir.

■ BELFORT WILLING TO STOP TRT — UFC middleweight contender Vitor Belfort said he would be willing to stop his testosterone replacement therapy if it meant getting a title shot.

Belfort, 36, has been fighting under a therapeutic-use exemption for the treatment for his last few fights and will do so again when he takes on Dan Henderson on Saturday in Brazil.

Several fighters in the UFC are in a similar situation, but Belfort has been the target of the most criticism because he failed a performance-enhancing drug test in Nevada back in 2006 and has performed at a very high level since going public with his treatment.

Because of his previous failed test in the state, Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer has said Belfort would not get an exemption for TRT should he want to fight in Las Vegas again.

Belfort has said his doctors have told him he needs the treatment in order to continue fighting at a high level, but Belfort now says in an interview with UOL he would be willing to stop the TRT if it meant he could fight the winner of December’s middleweight title fight between Anderson Silva and champion Chris Weidman.

“I’ve already said that, if they agree with it, I would (stop doing TRT),” Belfort told UOL, as translated by MMAFighting.com. “No problem at all. If they want me to get in there with a disadvantage, that’s OK.”

The comments sparked online discussion of whether Belfort actually needs the treatment at all if he is willing to give it up for what would be one of the biggest and most challenging fights of his career.

Belfort’s fight against Henderson, the main event of UFC Fight Night 32, will be his third straight to take place in Brazil.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

 

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