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The anticipated championship rematch between Bellator lightweight titleholder Michael Chandler and the man he defeated to take the belt, Eddie Alvarez, became official early Friday evening when both fighters hit their mark at the Long Beach Arena.
Chandler weighed 154.8 pounds, while Alvarez was three-tenths of a pound lighter. Both men appeared to be in tremendous shape.
The lightweights met two years ago this month in what is widely regarded as the best fight in Bellator MMA history, ranking alongside some of the most heralded mixed martial arts contests in the past 20 years. It was a dramatic back-and-forth contest that saw both men recover from trouble. Chandler stole the headlines and the belt with a fourth-round dissection of Alvarez that ended when he sunk in a modified rear-naked choke.
"We got two great competitors stepping into the cage," Chandler said after making weight Friday.
ESPN.com ranks Chandler No. 5 and Alvarez No. 6 in their division.
"This is a rematch a lot of people have been waiting for," Chandler said. "This is what we do. I'm excited."
Alvarez (24-3) said he is focused and prepared, and claimed he'll "be your new Bellator lightweight champion of the world" after an efficient weight cut.
"There's no pressure to get into [another] brawl," Chandler (12-0) told ESPN.com ahead of the rematch. "The reason I was in a brawl the first time was my level of skill wasn't Eddie's. I wasn't as skilled of a fighter as he was. I have no problem admitting that. He'd been in the sport eight years. I'd been in less than two. I just picked up so much more."
Chandler is looking for his third straight defense of the belt, following stoppages over Rick Hawn and David Rickels earlier this year.
Chandler-Alvarez is one of three title fight rematches on the card, which a week ago was slated to be headlined by Tito Ortiz and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson on pay-per-view. Ortiz, however, pulled out due to injury, Jackson was yanked off the card and the event was switched to a free broadcast on Spike TV.
In the co-main event, light heavyweights Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal (204.1) and Emanuel Newton (203.4) appeared fit and trim. Newton defeated Lawal with a spinning backfist knockout in March. He went on to win the Bellator light heavyweight tournament and earn a title shot against the promotion's champion, Attila Vegh. However, injury postponed that contest in favor of Saturday's interim title fight.
Featherweight Bellator champion Pat Curran, ranked No. 3 at 145 pounds by ESPN.com, first fought Daniel Straus in 2009. Neither man is relying on that first contest to determine much in the second.
Curran (19-4) weighed 144.8 pounds, while Straus (21-4) hit the mark at 144.2.
"All I know is I'm not losing tomorrow night. That's all that matters," Curran said.
Also on the televised portion of the card, Mike Bronzoulis (171) meets veteran Joe Riggs (170.7) in the first final of Bellator's reality series on Spike, "Fight Master."
"It's one of the last chances I'll get. I worked way harder for this fight than I ever have because of where I'm at in my life and the things I've had to fight for," said Riggs, whose sunken cheeks from weight cutting were obvious as he stood on the scale. "I've worked too hard to lose."
Featherweights Mike Richman (145.5) and Akop Stepanyan (145.9) kick off the televised portion on Spike.