It was a long, strange mixed martial arts (MMA) trip for Eddie Alvarez to Bellator 106 tonight (Sat., Nov. 2, 2013) at Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, Calif.,on Spike TV.
The legal tug-of-war between Bellator and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kept him out of action since a head-kick knockout of Patricky Freire back in Oct. 2012. More than one year later, the former Lightweight champion found himself back in the cage against the man who took his belt, Michael Chandler, in one of the most memorable back-and-forth wars in the history of the sport back in Nov. 2011.
He would have liked for nothing more than to take out all that pent-up aggression and frustration on Chandler, an undefeated (12-0) talent who stole his star. He certainly did his darndest, but Chandler was just too tough to go home early, but he did ultimately go home with his first-ever professional loss and without his championship belt.
Alvarez kicked off the action with a few clean shots as Chandler tried to slip them off his back foot. He continued to press forward even as Alvarez continued to find a home for a straight left jab. Chandler appeared eager to pick up right where the pair left off, while Alvarez circled, doing his best to not get sucked into another destructive war.
Chandler was loading up his shots, but found room for a tight rear-naked choke in a rare early scramble. Alvarez seemed to be in trouble, but he defended well and slipped out the back door with the first frame coming to close shortly thereafter.
To start round two, Chandler -- still the aggressor -- dropped a nice flurry that forced Alvarez to circle out of trouble. Chandler was able to finally catch him mid-way through the round and toss him to the floor about three times, with Alvarez able to get back to his feet quickly each time.
Alvarez landed an awesome uppercut-combination with about 45 seconds to go in the round, but Chandler didn't seem overly fazed. In fact, it's probably the shots he's been begging for all night. Unfortunately for him, Alvarez did some damage as Chandler returned to his corner face bloodied and swollen.
Undeterred, Chandler kept pushing the pace in round three as Alvarez continued to snap his jab. He was circling less, too, most likely because Chandler was in more of a wrestling rather than brawling mode. Alvarez, in fact, began to stalk Chandler and pick him apart with his accurate jab.
Chandler, at this point, looked to be the more tired fighter, but that didn't stop him from dumping Alvarez along the fence with about one minute remaining and angling for another rear-naked choke. He didn't get it, with him finishing the round in top position but unable -- or perhaps too exhausted -- to do much with it.
Before the start of the fourth, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC)-appointed ringside physician had a conversation with Chandler, who waived him off nonchalantly. Soon after, Chandler landed a slick flying knee that didn't wobble Alvarez, but appeared to open up a gash on his face.
Chandler was able to land on top and then unleashed serious strikes from the top. Alvarez did his best to avoid the ground-and-pound onslaught, but Chandler was devastatingly accurate. Soon enough, Alvarez's face was blood red, unable to escape the smothering -- and effective -- attack.
In fact, Chandler was able to hold this position until the round was over.
It appeared that Chandler might spent a little too much energy, as Alvarez came out the much fresher and determined fighter. However, it didn't stop Chandler from getting Alvarez's back and threatening with a neck crank. Alvarez got back to his feet and the pair began to exchange in the center of the cage, throwing caution to the wind with the belt and their legacies on the line.
Alvarez got Chandler's back with about two minute to go, but he somehow squirmed out. Alvarez, hooks in, battered his face along the cage, Chandler unable to really defend the punches and the submission. He then made his move, reversed position and then scored a takedown of his own at the bell, Chandler clearly the more beaten fighter (his eye was a MESS) but not necessarily defeated.
It was truly that close -- the decision could have gone either way. And, unsurprisingly, the decision was split, with Alvarez getting the nod and no doubt setting up a money trilogy match against Chandler -- most likely his last under the Bellator banner -- sometime in the near future.
For complete Bellator 106: "Chandler vs. Alvarez 2" results, including complete play-by-play coverage of the Spike TV main card, click here.