Despite a report we passed along right here at MMAmania.com a week or so ago, it appears that Eddie Alvarez (15-2) has withdrawn from a bout against Naoyuki Kotani (18-8-6) in Atlantic City, N.J., on January 23 because of an ankle injury he sustained after getting submitted by a nasty heel hook from Shinya Aoki at FieLDS Dynamite!! last weekend.
The bout with Kotani was scheduled to be the main event on the Extreme Challenge: "War at the Shore" card.
The Philadelphia native revealed that tests showed no severe damage, but he still felt enough discomfort to pull out of the fight. Regardless of the severity of the injury, it makes sense for the 24-year-old to take the cautious approach since he has a big year ahead of him in 2009.
In fact, Alvarez signed on late last year to be a part of Bellator Fighting Championships tournament, which will air on ESPN Deportes once a week beginning in April.
In short, it doesn't make much sense for him to risk losing all that exposure by possibly further injuring his leg in what was basically just a fight he was taking to get a chance to fight near his hometown again.
There are big things in this kid's future and there's no reason to risk that for this fight.
The loss to Aoki was only the second of Alvarez' bright and promising career. Before the setback, he was having a ridiculous run of success that had secured him a solid reputation as one of the sport's brightest young stars.
Alvarez was the only man to go through the 2008 DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix without a loss, defeating Andre Amade, Joachim Hansen and Tatsuya Kawajiri en route to a spot in the final against Aoki. However, he was forced out of that fight because of some swelling around his eye he suffered in the semi final bout with Kawajiri the same night.
It's disappointing anytime we miss out on a chance to see a talent like Alvarez compete, but pulling out of this fight is probably the best and safest thing he could do at this point.
Extreme Challenge: "War at the Shore" will still feature a good card of mixed martial arts action. Former Elite XC featherweight title holder Wilson Reis will be in action as well as one of the top female fighters in the world, Tara Larosa. It should still be an exciting event.