The rematch with Shinya Aoki that Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez wants so badly appears destined for 2012. Aoki, the DREAM lightweight champion, confirmed plans for the rumored bout on Wednesday in an interview with MMA Weekly. No official announcement has been made.
"Yes, I will fight (Alvarez) next year," Aoki confirmed. "I am looking forward to it."
The pair first fought at the co-sponsored DREAM - K-1 Dynamite!! event in late 2008. Aoki made quick work of the American, dispatching him via heel hook in the opening minutes of round one to become the inaugural WAMMA lightweight champion.
The loss is the only blemish of Alvarez's last thirteen fights. Since then the 27-year-old has stridently called for a chance at revenge, and now it appears he will get his chance under the Bellator banner.
With a recent win against Rob McCullough at DREAM 17, Aoki pushed his own win streak to six, last falling to Gilbert Melendez at Strikeforce: Nashville. The submission specialist has since committed to reshaping his underdeveloped stand-up arsenal, training striking and Muay Thai in Singapore with Evolve MMA. "It gave me even more confidence to execute our game plan," Aoki said about the effect of the training on his latest win. "Actually, for the first time, I was unafraid to stand and strike because of my Muay Thai training."
Aside from plans for Alvarez, the 28-year-old Japanese champion also confirmed that his next fight will be on New Year's Eve in Japan. No opponent has been announced thus far, though it's safe to say they'll have a dangerous fight on their hands.