About three weeks ago, EliteXC lent out its up and coming lightweight star, Eddie Alvarez, to the Japanese promotion DREAM so he could compete in a 16-man lightweight grand prix tournament.
EliteXC allows most of their fighters to compete outside their organization, probably because more exposure can't be a bad thing for any fighter. So Eddie was shipped overseas to represent the promotion in a tournament that they knew a lot of people would be watching ... or at least paying attention to.
Alvarez did not disappoint, stopping Andre "Dida" Amade in the first round with strikes. The fight was not only impressive for Eddie because of the level of competition, but he was fighting a long way from home, really on the big stage for the first time in his career, and he dominated.
That left five possible candidates for a round two opponent: Tatsuya Kawajiri, Joachim Hansen, Katsuhiko Nagata, Luiz Firmino or Mitsuhiro Ishida. All very good fighters and any one of which would provide a solid fight and test for Alvarez.
It was recently announced it would be "Hellboy" Hansen and the fight would take place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, on May 11.
Hellboy made his way in the quarterfinals by defeating Kotetsu Boku in a unanimous decision. He's a six-fight Pride FC veteran and holds wins over Yves Edwards, Caol Uno and Takanori Gomi to name a few. He is considered by a lot of people in the MMA world to be a top 10 lightweight fighter.
Alvarez will have his hands full for sure. This is a big step up in competition for him. Plus Hellboy is used to fighting on the big stage in Japan -- he's got a little bit of home court advantage.
I'd say Hansen has the advantage on paper because of his experience, but Alvarez is a Philadelphia fighter with a lot of heart. He's going to Japan to win, regardless of the opponent. This fight is going to be an absolute war.
I can't wait.
This is what a tournament like this is all about, two fighters who fight on opposite ends of the globe, in different organizations, who might not have ever fought each other. Kudos to EliteXC for allowing their fighter to compete.
It really makes it worth it for the fans.