Alvarez put on a great performance in the TKO win (Photo by Augustine Dashiell, Plainfield Sports News).
Eddie Alvarez Impresses in Front of Hometown Crowd
Fighting in front of his hometown Philadelphia fans for the first time, Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez (21-2) put on a dominating performance en route to scoring a TKO win of UFC veteran Roger Huerta (21-5-1) at Bellator 33 on Thursday. With training partner and UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar sitting cageside, it was clear by the end of the evening that two of the best lightweights in the world were at The Liacouras Center tonight, with Alvarez stopping Huerta at the five-minute mark of the second round.
“Definitely a success tonight,” Alvarez said at the post-fight press conference. “Everything that I could’ve dreamed of went exactly according to plan. I have three great coaches. Each of them gave me certain advice. Every single thing worked tonight. Every single thing.”
As soon as the Liacouras Center crowd caught a glimpse of Alvarez when he began his walk to the Bellator cage, the entire arena erupted. Before he even made it inside the door of the cage, chants of “Eddie-Eddie” had already broken throughout the whole building. To say he had the support of the crowd behind him would be the understatement of the year.
At the opening bell, this fight started immediately with stand-up exchanges, and Alvarez threw a series of combos to the body and back to the head. He kept his head moving well throughout the action, ducking in and out of Huerta’s reach while delivering a flurry of punches when he attacked. Alvarez also scored the first takedown of the match, but he quickly let the fight get back to its feet. Huerta was briefly able to apply a choke on the side of the cage in the latter minutes of the first stanza, but Alvarez was able to push off the advances and return to the center of the canvas. The duo did unload some nice exchanges throughout the frame, but Alvarez appeared to maintain the upper hand during the blows.
The second round started with more kicks than fists, and the two fighters sized each other up just a bit more. While grappling at the 3:45 mark, Alvarez landed a sharp uppercut onto Huerta, and he began to follow up that strike with some overhand rights that looked to be finding their target. At the midway point, Alvarez was able to drop his opposition with a kick, but he allowed Huerta back to his feet rather than take the match to the ground. Huerta did not back down and tried to become the aggressor, but Alvarez continued to trail and bounce in with multiple punch combos to the body and face. When the final minute of the second frame approached, Huerta was finally able to take his opponent to the floor and worked himself into the full mount. However, the Bellator Lightweight Champion was able to muscle himself out and back to his feet. From the stand-up position, Alvarez threw some kicks that noticeably wobbled Huerta, and he finished out the round seemingly in control.
When waiting for the start of the third stanza, Huerta did not immediately come off his stool, which caused some confusion at first. Referee Kevin Mulhall than came from his corner and waved off the fight after the doctors advised Huerta not to continue. The vision of the former UFC contender had become too swayed for him to successfully defend himself, and the Philadelphia crowd exploded as Alvarez did a flip off the side of the Bellator cage in celebration of his victory. Huerta did not appear to be happy with the decision, but it was seemingly the right call to make. The official time of the stoppage was the five-minute mark of round number two.
“We’re going to continue this journey and get the number one spot and beat the best guys in the world,” Alvarez told his team after the win.
Alvarez now awaits the health of Pat Curran, who won the Bellator Season 2 Lightweight Tournament but has been unable to get his title shot due to a shoulder injury. The match will likely come early in Bellator Season 4, which will begin in February.