MMA: Patricky Freire

Alvarez 'dangerous' in last contractual fight

October, 10, 2012
10/10/12
2:43
PM ET
Okamoto By Brett Okamoto
ESPN.com
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Eddie AlvarezRic Fogel for ESPN.com Eddie Alvarez played the part of top-10 lightweight to perfection in his last bout versus Shinya Aoki.
If it’s true that you’re only as good as your last fight, logic suggests the pressure is on Eddie Alvarez to be superior this week.

The former Bellator lightweight champion will be a free agent following his bout Friday against Patricky Freire in the Bellator 76 main event in Windsor, Ontario.

Alvarez (23-3) is considered one of the top prospects in the sport outside of the UFC, but in the oft-fickle world of mixed martial arts, a loss in the final fight of a contract conceivably could cost Alvarez thousands of dollars in negotiations.

The 28-year-old admits he thought the pressure was going to be overwhelming for this fight, but he hasn't felt it yet. Having left his home and family the past month to train with the Blackzilians camp in South Florida, Alvarez says his dedication has been such that a different feeling has surfaced leading up to the fight.

“I thought the pressure would be a lot greater than what it is, to be honest,” Alvarez told ESPN.com. “I’ve had zero distractions. The only thing I have to do all day is train and that creates a very dangerous person.

“I have nothing but complete confidence. [The contract situation] doesn’t make me fearful, it doesn’t make me nervous. The training I’ve done in the past month kind of, you know, gives me a secret smile. I’m not worrying about this or that, I’m thinking, ‘Wait until you guys see what’s about to happen on Friday.’”

For the record, Alvarez hasn’t ruled out re-signing with Bellator, the promotion he’s competed for since 2009 and whose inaugural 155-pound belt he wore for two years.

Speculation has all but ruled out Alvarez landing anywhere but the Octagon. UFC president Dana White and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta have expressed interest in signing Alvarez, and recent comments by Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney suggest he is bracing for life without him.

Certainly, the fan expectation will be for Alvarez, the No. 10-ranked lightweight in the world by ESPN.com, to test himself in the deep waters of the UFC, but Alvarez says there will be more to it than that.

The 28-year-old went through serious financial hardships a year ago thanks to inactivity and spreading himself too thin on long-term financial investments.

He would welcome the opportunity to fight the top names in his weight class, but his belief that he’s the best lightweight in the world already allows him to pursue the best financial offer and not necessarily the promotion that will affect his rank.

Regardless of where I go -- if I'm fighting in some obscure country where no one sees me -- my skill will always follow me. Just for me to know that I can beat any lightweight in the world is good enough

-- Eddie Alvarez, on weighing his promotional options

“Popularity has nothing to do with talent or skill,” Alvarez said. “Regardless of where I go -- if I’m fighting in some obscure country where no one sees me -- my skill will always follow me. Just for me to know that I can beat any lightweight in the world is good enough.

“For me, it’s about going and fighting where I can make the best living that I can for me and my family. Wherever that is, that’s where I’ll go.”

Before that decision takes place, Alvarez will take one final opportunity to market himself as a free agent against Freire -- an opponent he believes is tailor-made to bring out the best in him.

“I’ve always done my best against guys who have this sort of one-shot knockout power,” Alvarez said. “They keep me on my toes. They keep me sharp and alert. That little bit of fear keeps me moving real fast in the ring.”

Notes and Nuggets: Bellator 63 edition

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
6:09
AM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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BjornHenry S. Dziekan III/Getty ImagesWhile Zuffa catches its breath, Bjorn Rebney and the boys at Bellator have picked up the slack.
UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Through the first couple of weeks of Bellator’s quarterfinal brackets we’ve witnessed some peculiar things. There was last week’s rarely seen Von Flue choke, courtesy of lightweight Brent Weedman -- and that came on the same night that Lloyd Woodard emerged from the woodwork to upset Patricky Freire. The week before that, we saw Brian Rogers down Vitor Vianna with a flying knee from Hades. The thing was executed with such diabolical ease that it almost looked unspectacular.

And before that, Pat Curran totally anesthetized Joe Warren to become the promotion’s featherweight champion.

In other words, Bellator has a built up a good head of steam while Zuffa catches its breath. Things continue along this weekend on the Mohegan Reservation, a roped off part of the state of Connecticut where MMA is perfectly legal. This time it’s the welterweights, where there’s always intrigue to be found regardless of the promotion.

For starters, everybody with Bellator tournament experience in the eight-man field is coming off a brutal loss. Chris Lozano got KO’d by Douglas Lima. Ditto UFC veteran Ben Saunders. Bryan Baker was TKO’d by Vianna. There’s a lot of gnawing within the guts of the promotion’s best-known guys. Meanwhile, David Rickels (3-0 in Bellator) will use his prelim experience and try his luck in the brackets.

As for everybody else? They are all debuting. And of everyone in the field, perhaps none is more interesting than Baker, who has been training at Greg Jackson’s and is cutting down to 170 pounds for the first time. He will be fighting Carlos Pereira.

“I was a lighter fighter [at 170],” he said at the open workouts. “I used my speed, and I have power, and so I was able to hold myself as a middleweight. I was able to use my speed with my quickness against heavier opponents. But now it’s time for me to be the heavier opponent, to stand in the middle of the cage and not be so worried about trying to move and worry about power. I can really stand the power at welterweight and I can make them fear my length more and just really own the cage.”

Each time Baker fights he defies odds, having already battled through leukemia (which is in remission) and a couple of tournaments as an undersized middleweight. Now he’s wiser, lighter and in tune with the most essential cliché of them all -- that is, he’s taking it one fight at a time.

“I’m not sure who it’s quoted by, but my little brother told me, ‘it takes skill to want to fight, but it takes character to repeat.’ That’s pretty much where I’m at. I’m just going to go and win this fight, and it’s in my character to be a professional to be where I need to be and continue winning.”

Saunders revs up for second run
Ben SaundersDave Mandel/SherdogBen Saunders has put his dangerous Muay Thai game to good use in the Bellator cage.

After losing to insistent wrestlers in Jon Fitch and Dennis Hallman and subsequently getting released by the UFC, Ben Saunders went on a four-fight winning streak. That all ended when Douglas Lima stopped him at Bellator 57 in the welterweight final. Now he’s back to square one as he sets for his fight with Raul Amaya, an undefeated fighter (9-0) who has finished everybody he’s faced.

Saunders, who has one of the most sadistic Thai clinches in the sport -- one in which he uses all eight limbs gratuitously (as evidenced the last time he fought in Connecticut against Matt Lee) -- says that martial arts is a game of perpetual acquisition. So don’t be surprised if he breaks out some wrestling and goes for the takedown against Amaya if it’s there, because, hey, this game forces you to evolve.

“I’m going to be improving everyday,” he says. “I’m never going to be a master of martial arts. I’ll never be a master of my style until I die. There’s always going to be something new that I can learn, so I’ve got to take [my losses] with a grain of salt. You learn more from a loss than you do from a win and it just made me more hungry.”

Prindle/Konrad possible for April 13
Cole KonradSherdog.comAfter a series of twists and turns, Cole Konrad is finally closing in on an opponent.

It seems like heavyweight champion Cole Konrad has been waiting for resolution in the Eric Prindle/Thiago Santos saga forever. Realistically, it’s only been a couple of months, and after many bizarre twists and turns, stubborn weight cuts and flu-like symptoms, it’ll be Prindle who gets the nod to challenge Konrad. When is it going down? According to Bellator officials that fight could take place on the April 13 Bellator 65 card in Atlantic City. That’s the same night that the company’s smallest men -- the bantamweights -- kick off their quarterfinals.

How’s that for size discrepancy on a card? Konrad walks around the size of two Marcos Galvao’s and change.

Amoussou the former undercover cop

Karl Amoussou was an undercover officer not all that long ago, bringing robbers and drug dealers to justice in his native France. Obviously this would have made for an amusing back-story if he’d gotten his original opponent at Bellator 63, the always colorful War Machine, instead of Chris Lozano. As has been much publicized, Machine was re-incarcerated before making his Bellator debut against Amoussou. This whole “cop versus delinquent” thing that never happened wouldn’t have mattered to Amoussou inside the cage, anyway.

“Yeah, I don’t care,” Amoussou said. “I plan to do a normal fight so what he does outside is his problem, I don’t care.”

Good faces Costa in Bellator welter qualifier

October, 25, 2011
10/25/11
5:46
PM ET
McNeil By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com
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Lyman Good returns to action Nov. 26 against Michael Costa in a Bellator Season 6 welterweight tournament qualifier at Caesars Atlantic City, N.J.

The fight will be Good’s first bout since April 2, when he suffered a split-decision loss to Rick Hawn. Good (11-2) has lost two of his three most recent bouts and is eager to regain his winning touch.

“Coming off of that last fight, it really made me go back to the drawing board and start fresh,” Good said. “I felt like I got away from some things that made me who I was as a fighter, and I needed to get back to my roots.”

Costa will make his Bellator debut against Good. He will enter the cage with a pro mark of 10-5-1.

Good-Costa is part of the Bellator 59 card that includes a lightweight tilt between Kurt Pellegrino and Patricky Freire.

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