When Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler heal from an epic rematch that headlined Bellator's biggest event to date, Bjorn Rebney can't see any reason not to put them together again on pay-per-view.
"Not unless I have my brains removed," the Bellator chairman and CEO joked to MMAjunkie.com following Saturday's event, which took place at Long Beach Arena in California. "I mean, please. How could you not?"
Right now, though, the lightweights have a lot of healing to do. Alvarez (25-3 MMA, 10-1 BMMA), who won back the lightweight belt he lost to Chandler (12-1 MMA, 9-1 BMMA) two years ago with a grueling, blood-soaked split-call victory, was taken to the hospital after reporting he was nauseous and uncomfortable, according to Rebney. The Bellator boss initially reported that Chandler made the first trip to a medical center to get checked out, but MMAjunkie.com subsequently confirmed with the fighter's trainer that he simply received stitches backstage and returned to his hotel.
Still, the level of violence seen in their rematch left no doubt that they won't be fighting any time soon. For now, Rebney is basking in the afterglow.
"I think part of the magic that they were able to create tonight was based on the fact that Ed had a long period off and was able to heal and recreate what he does," Rebney said. "Michael got a lot of time off, and Michael had a couple of title defenses, but they were short-order title defenses (in which) he took no damage. But [the rematch is] the kind of fight that you're going to need to take some time off. Once they're both back at 120 percent, there's nothing in the way of doing No. 3."
At the event's post-fight presser, Rebney sidestepped the question of whether Chandler would have to win a tournament to get a rematch with Alvarez, given that the promotion has staked its identity on the idea that fighters earn title shots by winning such competitions (though it also added an exception to allow immediate title rematches).
Later, though, the Bellator head was far more enthusiastic about an immediate third meeting. As for when that happens, and by extension, when the promotion makes its debut on pay-per-view, Rebney is unsure.
Bellator 106 was scheduled to air on pay TV before an originally scheduled headliner between ex-UFC champs Tito Ortiz and Quinton Jackson was scrapped when Ortiz was injured. The event then moved to Spike TV. Since then, Rebney indicated talks of remounting a PPV have yet to take place.
"There wasn't like, 'Well, we're not going to do Tito/Rampage, and we'll do it on March 7,'" he said. "There was no thought process behind it. It was just, we can do this on Spike. We can give an incredible big audience for people to see it. So, I don't know."
Before he was taken to the hospital, Alvarez made a brief appearance at the post-event presser. He sported a badly swollen and bruised left eye, swollen lips, and a contusion on his forehead. The new champ and Rebney, who reportedly hadn't said much to each other since the resolution of an extended battle in court, shared a few awkward moments before the gathering got underway. Alvarez could have skipped the event, but he wanted to give credit where it was due in a bout that was a worthy offering in this year's crowded field of "Fight of the Year" contenders.
"I was going to go ahead right to the hospital, too, right along with Mike, but I told Bjorn that I'd come for a few minutes to address you guys," he said. "I'm going to take zero credit for what happened tonight. It takes two people to put on a fight like that, not just me. Me and Mike Chandler. The guy fights his ass off. He has the heart of a lion, and it takes two of us to do that.
"We went out there and put it on the line. Really, at the end of that fight, I didn't give a s--t about who won that fight. It was just special to be a part of it, and I'm happy to be a part of it."