After coming up short against Michael Chandler this past November, losing his title in the process, former Bellator lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez wanted nothing more than an immediate shot at winning his belt back. Not only was the match-up extremely entertaining but also competitive in nature with Alvarez nearly finishing Chandler off at one point.

Unfortunately for Alvarez, the only way to get a crack at a champion in Bellator is to win a tournament, and despite his contributions to the organization since their inaugural season the policy is one CEO Bjorn Rebney is not willing to waver on. However, as disappointing as it might be to Alvarez personally, the 27-year old both understands and appreciates the company’s structure from a professional standpoint.

“The way it’s ran, it keeps the integrity of the sport. It is a sport where a guy who works hard, who is basically an unknown can come out and be a champion. It is that,” explained Alvarez on The MMA Hour. “I think that a lot of promoters and promotions and even boxing does a good job in disguising that, making the champion look like someone who is immortal, someone who can’t be beaten. Bellator, more than anyone, keeps the integrity of the sport by facing guys who are unknown and could be very dangerous. In normal circumstances, some promotions may keep their champion away from a guy like that. Bellator doesn’t do that. That’s what makes it honest and true and keeps the integrity of MMA.”

With another tournament run unlikely for Alvarez based on his diminishing contractual obligations, he still has an opportunity to solidify himself as a top contender in Bellator or any other organization by beating Shinya Aoki later this month at Bellator 66.

“I need to go in there and I need to perform the way I usually do, then we can talk about other things. Because, right now, I can go in there and if something doesn’t go my way that night, I don’t have much to stand on. I need to go in there and show my value,” admitted Alvarez on the matter.

The 22-3 Alvarez had seven-fight winning streak snapped by Chandler. As chance would have it, the last person he fell to prior to Chandler was Aoki after being submitted by a Heel Hook less than two minutes into their meeting.