Whether or not Eddie Alvarez leaves Bellator for greener pastures, he'll fight for the promotion at least one more time.
Bellator chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio he's currently working on the standout lightweight's next fight booking.
And while Rebney hopes a new deal can be reached, he won't budge for Alvarez – or any other fighter – on his requirement that only tournament winners get title shots.
Alvarez's current Bellator deal expires in early fall, according to Rebney. But the contract also could end if Alvarez fulfills the one remaining fight on his deal. Regardless of which comes first, Alvarez will be a hot commodity, and UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Ferttita have openly discussed their affinity for the heavy-handed Philadelphian.
Alvarez (23-3 MMA, 7-1 BFC), a Bellator season-one tournament winner, reigned as a Bellator champion until a November upset loss to Michael Chandler. But a recent first-round TKO of Shinya Aoki solidified him in the top 10. It also upped his market value at a key time.
Now, the question is whether Alvarez will remain with Bellator or possibly join the UFC, where most of the world's top lightweights reside.
"Eddie and I are sitting down and banging through it," Rebney told MMAjunkie.com Radio. "If we can get a deal, we'll get a deal done. And if we can't get a deal done, then he'll have one last fight with us, which obviously we'll promote like crazy, and it'll be a big fight for him against someone super tough."
After that, Alvarez could follow in the footsteps of middleweight champion Hector Lombard, who recently vacated his Bellator belt, signed with the UFC, and now meets Brian Stann in August's UFC on FOX 4 headliner. Bellator had the right to match the UFC's offer but declined.
"We'd go through that same process (as Lombard) where Ed's able to test the waters and entertain offers," Rebney said. "For the time being, we have a long time left on the deal, and one fight left. We just need to sit down and work it out with Ed and decide which road we go down."
Rebney didn't mention a possible date for Alvarez's next fight. The current sixth season concludes this week, but the organization hosts monthly "Summer Series" events beginning next month.
While Alvarez has campaigned for a rematch with Chandler, who picked up a submission victory in their "Fight of the Year" candidate at Bellator 58, Rebney simply won't budge.
Sticking with tradition, Rebney said the only possible way Alvarez – who has become a friend and one of Bellator's highest-profile ambassadors – or any other fighter can get a title shot is by winning a tournament.
"Ed is awesome, and there are a lot of different things and a lot of hoops I will jump through to try to get a deal done with Ed to keep him in this organization," Rebney said. "But altering the format – altering what makes us who were are – is not one of them."