Rumors first circulated about Eddie Alvarez and Donald Cerrone facing each other at UFC 178 at the end of July. Cerrone had just come off a spectacular win over Jim Miller, and the Scott Coker regime had just taken foot in Bellator. Following his fourth consecutive victory, ‘Cowboy’ was looking for a big name fight that could push him into a title shot. While the Bobby Green bout which was booked in the interim would have kept him busy, it wasn’t really the high profile opponent he had hoped for. Coker was looking to make an impression on MMA fighters around the world that Bellator is no longer an MMA promotion that will keep you trapped into a contract if you’re looking to leave. Knowing that Alvarez was going to bolt for the UFC as soon as he had fulfilled the last bout on his current deal, and at the risk that he might knock off one of the organization’s other top lightweights before leaving, Coker decided it was better for everyone involved to just cut ties. When it was announced on Tuesday afternoon that Alvarez was finally a free agent, there were very few people who didn’t expect him to end up in the UFC and hours later he was officially signed. The trickier part was determining his first fight in the Octagon. Since Cerrone had been booked to face Green at UFC 178, it seemed that option was off the table, but Joe Silva decided to shuffle that card around once again and give fans the matchup that everyone had been craving since the rumors started nearly a month ago. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas was quick getting to work on the fight and released opening odds of Cerrone -130 (bet $130 to win $100) and Alvarez -110 at 5Dimes Sportsbook, closely mimicking the split opinions and competitive nature of the fight. The early money has been just as divided on the bout, as the line has shifted just five cents, with Cerrone now -125 and Alvarez -115. The fight has all the makings of a classic. Fans who aren’t already familiar with him will get a great introduction to Eddie Alvarez. With another high-octane offensive fighter across the cage, one who also possess defensive liabilities and incredible toughness, it’s hard to see these two not delivering. The only downside is that they won’t have 25 minutes to show their skills, although given the track record each of them has, they may not even need 15. The only other notable MMA news from yesterday pales in comparison to the announcement of Cerrone/Alvarez, but it is a bout which could see a UFC-bound fighter sooner rather than later. Joby Sanchez’ departure to the UFC created a hole in the RFA 18 main event, where Matt Manzanares was set to defend his flyweight belt. Brazilian Alexandre Pantoja will fill the spot, looking to thrust himself back into the spotlight at 125lbs. Back in 2010, Pantoja fought Jussier Formiga in a bout that many saw determining the top flyweight in the world. Formiga won via decision and has gone on to prove himself as one of the sport’s best in the UFC. Pantoja meanwhile has won each of his seven bouts since that defeat, finishing five of them. A win for either of these fighters should see them follow the same path as former RFA flyweight champions Sergio Pettis and Zach Makovsky into the UFC.