November 19, 2011
Two men engaged in one of the greatest fights in combat sports history. Both men traded blows in a back-and-forth tilt that left both exhausted, bloodied but not broken. It wasn’t only the Fight of the Night, but the Fight of the Year. And maybe the Fight of the Decade. And only 269,000 people got to see it.
No, I’m not talking about the legendary Dan Henderson – Mauricio “Shogun” Rua fight, which aired at the same time on the UFC 139 PPV. I’m talking about Bellator LVIII, which aired for free on MTV2. The best thing? It’s still available on Youtube for free courtesy of Bellator. Check it out:
The Greatest Lightweights outside the UFC
Michael Chandler. Eddie Alvarez. If you’re a casual MMA fan – and by that I mean you only occasionally catch a UFC PPV in a bar and any names outside of Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, GSP and Dana White are foreign to you – then the likelihood is you have not heard of either fighter.
Michael Chandler is currently ranked as the #4 Lightweight in the world by Sherdog and may be the best current lightweight not in the UFC. An NCAA Division I wrestler, Chandler is undefeated at 12-0 with 10 of those wins coming via stoppage (5 KO, 5 submission). Among his notable wins are the aforementioned Eddie Alvarez (below), Rick Hawn, Tristar Gym teammate of UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and longtime pioneer Akihiro Gono. Chandler’s muscular physique, strong ground game and heavy hands have many comparing him as a “mini-GSP” and the comparisons are not too outlandish if you look at his body of work.
Eddie Alvarez is currently ranked as the #9 Lightweight in the world by Sherdog and is the former Bellator Lightweight champion. Before he lost the title to Michael Chandler, he was pretty much Bellator’s alpha dog. As one of the company’s pioneers, he was its first ever lightweight champion and posted a seven-fight winning streak beating UFC vets Josh Neer and Roger Huerta and current Featherweight champion, Pat Curran in the process. Overall he sports a 24-3 record with 14 wins coming via KO and 7 by submission. Alvarez is one of the better boxers in MMA but most notable would be his ability to recover quickly despite being rocked in his fights.
The Road to the Rematch
Since their epic title fight two years ago, Chandler and Alvarez have been on a collision course right back to each other. It was only a matter of time before they finally faced each other again. Pardon another UFC reference but it isn’t too different from Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, two premiere fighters who were a cut above the rest. Chandler and Alvarez have mowed down the competition at lightweight.
Michael Chandler has finished his last three opponents, the aforementioned longtime MMA vet Akihiro Gono in a non-title bout, Rick Hawn and David Rickels. Chandler never looked in danger in any of the fights, ending two of them in under a minute into the first round!
Eddie Alvarez had a more interesting story. After his loss to Chandler, he would knock out renowned Japanese submissionist, Shinya Aoki, avenging his previous loss from Dream. Rolling on that momentum, he would then knock out Patricky Freire in one round. Then a contract dispute had Alvarez verbally agree to fight for the UFC until Bellator invoked a clause to re-sign him and all the legal battles ensued.
With that thankfully settled, the rematch two-years-in-the-making HAD to happen.
Bellator CVI: Michael Chandler vs Eddie Alvarez II – All on the Line
The Lightweight World Championship is the most obvious prize on the line in the fight but it comes down to more than that. These two are the best fighters in the company and two top ten lightweights. Whoever wins this would hold not only the title but bragging rights as the company’s alpha dog.
Michael Chandler is fighting for his undefeated streak. He’s fighting to prove his win over Alvarez in the first fight wasn’t a fluke and he’s fighting to keep solidifying his legacy as one of the greatest lightweight MMA fighters to have ever stepped into the cage.
Eddie Alvarez will be fighting to regain his championship, a title he held and practically owned for two years since its inception in 2009. He’s fighting to beat the only guy who has beaten him within the company and the only guy to have knocked him down his throne. He’s also fighting to win back his spot in the UFC should he have future plans to sign with the bigger company. Dana said he won’t sign any losers. Consider his rematch with Chandler Alvarez’s audition into the big boys club.
Both fighters will also be fighting to make a bigger mark for the company. Bellator, despite being the second largest MMA circuit in the USA is still a relative unknown to the eyes of most casual fight fans and is still dwarfed by the UFC. Another exciting clash that would garner “Fight of the Year” could mean an inevitable trilogy fight putting Chandler and Alvarez and Bellator in an iconic position if only ever for this series of fights.
Main Card (Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET)