Shinya Aoki vs Eddie Alvarez

Eddie Alvarez has had one hell of a year in 2008. He entered the DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix as the dark horse pick for many, and three incredible performances later, including two fight of the year candidates, he finds himself in the top five of most media outlets’ lightweight rankings.

What Alvarez didn’t get to do though was finish what he started. Thanks to a cut he sustained in an epic battle with Tatsuya Kawajiri at DREAM.5, doctors would not allow him to compete later that night for the DREAM LW GP and DREAM Lightweight titles against Shinya Aoki. Aoki ended up losing the match to Joachim Hansen, but it still left Alvarez and fans wondering what might have been.

They won’t have to wonder for much longer though. According to a report on Sherdog, Eddie Alvarez has signed to face Aoki on the K-1 Dynamite!! 2008 card on NYE.

Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki, two of the world’s top four lightweights, have verbally agreed to fight one another at K-1 “Premium 2008 Dynamite” on Dec. 31 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Monte Cox, who manages Alvarez, confirmed the news to on Monday.

Really, could there be a better way for Alvarez to wrap up the amazing year he’s had? It may not be for the title, but you can at least take solace in the fact that Eddie has already defeated the title holder this year. If Alvarez in fact wins this match, it will certainly be difficult to find a more deserving fighter for “Fighter of the Year” honors.

The only thing that puts a slight damper on this fight is knowing what Eddie has lined up for 2009. He’s still fighting on an Extreme Challenge event in late January, assuming he’s healthy, plus he signed on to compete in Bellator Fighting Championships ESPN Deportes tournament next Spring. Who knows how long that will tie him up for.

The reason I’m mentioning this is because Joachim Hansen and JZ Calvacante are fighting for the lightweight title on NYE as well. Wouldn’t it be fitting for the Hansen-JZ winner to defend the title against the Alvarez-Aoki winner sometime next year? If Alvarez defeats Aoki, that would set up one of two incredible match-ups. Alvarez vs Hansen II? We already know how good that one would be. Alvarez vs JZ? Yeah, that one has fireworks written all over it.

Oh well, I guess we can’t have it all. Maybe late 2009.

[UPDATE 12/2/08 3:52PM ET] – This isn’t what I wanted to see. Sherdog has updated their story from the fight is official to it being in the works. Cross your fingers.