The best American-born fighter not fighting in the United States is lightweight Eddie Alvarez. The DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix being held in Japan was the opportunity of a lifetime to finally make a name for himself on a grand stage.
However, it turns out it was not meant to be.
Regardless, the 24-year-old Philadelphia, PA native, formerly ranked No. 7 in the world at lightweight by Top Gun MMA, did not disappoint. He rattled off consecutive victories over former No. 50 ranked Andrei Amade and former No. 22 ranked Joachim Hansen in the first two rounds of the grand prix.
In the tournament semifinals, he faced the toughest test of his career taking on former No. 14 ranked Tatsuya Kawajiri. This was a back and forth battle until Alvarez hit Kawajiri with a second round flurry causing the referee to intervene and save Kawajiri from any further severe damage.
It was a gutsy performance by Alvarez and a ticket to face the winner of the other semifinal in No. 1 ranked Shinya Aoki for the championship.
The championship match was scheduled for the same evening. This would come to be an unfortunate circumstance for Alvarez who was not allowed to participate in the championship match by tournament officials.
Alvarez sustained damage to his eye against Kawajiri, and it was almost swollen shut after the fight. Joachim Hansen, who Alvarez had previously beaten in the tournament, took his place and subsequently upset Aoki to take home the championship.
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