Michael Chandler threw Bellator a bit of a curveball late last year when he unexpectedly took out their golden boy Eddie Alvarez in a thrilling lightweight title fight at Bellator 58.

In any other organization, Alvarez would probably only need one or two wins to earn a shot at redemption, but that’s not how Bellator operates. CEO Bjorn Rebney has stated time and time again that the only way to earn a title shot in Bellator is to win one of their tournaments which entails three victories over the span of a 12-week season.

The opportunity was there for Alvarez to take that path as the final participant in Bellator’s upcoming season-six lightweight tournament, however as Rebney recently told MMA Junkie, they decided to go in a different direction and pursue a rematch with Shinya Aoki like they planned before the Chandler loss.

“Ed won’t be part of the next tournament during the March kickoff,” Rebney said. “The decision was reached between us that the next right step wouldn’t be to jump back in the season-tournament right now.”

“We’re still talking very regularly about the Aoki fight,” he said. “We’ve been talking to DREAM about making it happen, so it could still happen as his next fight.”

It’s certainly a unique position Eddie Alvarez finds himself in. I’m not sure how many fights Alvarez has left on his Bellator contract, but if he has any inkling to fight in the UFC, it seems like now would be the time to do whatever it is he has to do to fulfill his Bellator contract and make that happen. Otherwise, if he were to enter another Bellator tournament, say in season seven, and wins the fights he needs to reclaim the belt, then he’s just going to find himself in the same position he was in before — defending a secondary title against unknown fighters looking to make a name off his back. If I was him, I would want to write a new chapter in my career, not rehash the same one.

Image via Bellator