The UFC has its Chucks and its Brocks. PRIDE had its Fedors and its Wanderleis. Strikeforce is still looking for its king. Bellator Fighting Championships? Well theirs is easy to identify.
His name is Eddie Alvarez, and he is one of the most exciting fighters in the world that you may not know about.
The key for any mixed martial arts organization’s success is to have a face and a marketable talent to carry your company’s torch. For the UFC, Liddell was just that, as you could find him in movies, on SportsCenter, and even doing the samba (certainly not sambo) alongside Donny Osmond. The UFC knew it had its superstar, and it marketed the hell out of it.
Bellator Fighting Championships is but two years old, and it already has its poster boy in Eddie Alvarez. Alvarez has made a name for himself in Japan and lesser State-side organizations with his devastating knockout power and his boxing and wrestling background. Sporting an impressive 19-2 record, he took part in the only WAMMA Lightweight title match, losing to top lightweight Shinya Aoki, and has taken out top lightweights Joachim Hansen and Tatsuya Kawajiri.
Since joining Bellator for its debut event, Alvarez has dominated its 155lb division. Last year, he finished off Toby Imada in Bellator’s inaugural lightweight tournament, becoming the organization’s first lightweight champion. This win capped off an impressive 3 fight run where he showed that he is on a different level than the rest of his competition.
Coming off the shelf after 7 months due to a torn meniscus, Eddie now takes on Josh Neer this Thursday at Bellator XVII, coming to you live from The Wang Theater in downtown Boston. Billed as a superfight, this is Alvarez’s first fight as Bellator champion and it comes against a man with UFC experience. If Alvarez can beat Neer, however, his road only gets tougher. His first title defense will come against the winner of Bellator’s second season tournament; a tournament that features one of the most dangerous fighters in the world in Roger Huerta.
To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, right?
The biggest knock on the American Knuckle Star (one of the better nicknames in MMA by the way) is that he is too one dimensional… his critics have said that he is a knockout artist and not much more than that. Well, Alvarez’s response was to go out and win his last three fights via submission, which included a victory over Katsunori Kikuno via arm triangle in his last fight.
Now Alvarez sits at or near the top of every major MMA outlet’s rankings. With BJ Penn and Shinya Aoki both losing in the last month, its hard to argue that he shouldn’t be the number one 155lb’er in the world. After all, Eddie has generally been considered the number 3 lightweight in the world behind Penn and Aoki.
The door is open for Eddie Alvarez, and with quality competition on the horizon, he has an opportunity to cement himself as one of, if not the, best lightweights in the world.
His journey continues this Thursday night in Boston.