The biggest breaking news story this week: Perez Hilton has taken over
the matchmaking duties at Bellator.
OK, so that's not true. But the news coming out of the promotion this
week left a bad taste in my mouth.
According to sources within Bellator, the promotion is considering a Roger Huerta vs. Eddie Alvarez non-title match sometime in the fall, most likely in October.
Now in case you've been living under a rock the last couple of days,
let me bring you up to speed.
Fighter, actor, and all around ace-character Roger "El Matador" Huerta happens to get into a heated, physical confrontation with somebody on the streets. This somebody is a former college football player who just happened to sucker punch a woman full force from behind only seconds previous.
Huerta doles out a little street justice, cell phone cameras capture the whole
thing, and Huerta's act of vigilantism makes him the latest TMZ
I assumed Huerta would get a plum movie role for his efforts, something to benefit his newfound vigilante status. A Zorro remake, Mexican Batman, something like that.
Instead, he gets a Alvarez.
Why isin't Pat Curran taking on Alvarez? The season two lightweight
tournament winner fell out of his title shot with an undisclosed
injury, and not much more is known then that.
The bottom line is once again, Bellator LW Champion Eddie Alvarez finds himself in an
interesting, exciting fight in his weight division - only not for his belt.
Go figure that one. In fact, Eddie has yet to defend the title he won
two seasons ago inside a Bellator cage. They're reaching Strikeforce
levels of title credibility with these continued "not for a title, but
featuring our champion" matches.
What is this, professional boxing?
Now maybe I'm being unfair to Bjorn Rebney and crew, who are probably
in the mood for some good news after being hit with a big lawsuit
recently from the UFC. Purely at a glance, this fight makes a lot of
sense. It pits the two most visible and well known 155-ers under
Bellator contract against each other in a fight that's guaranteed
fireworks. This is the fight Bellator has wanted to make since they
signed "El Matador."
There's only one reason this match shouldn't get made (yet) and his
name is Toby Imada.
I feel truly bad for Imada, one the most exciting, genuine and
respectful fighters in the lightweight division who just can't seem to
catch his break, his "moment."
A 12-year veteran of the fight game,Imada has one of the deepest resumes of any 155-er, with names like Jake Sheilds, Joe Stevenson, and Hermes Franca standing out among his 39 professional bouts.
Unfortunately, Imada ended up on the wrong side of all three of those
fights. He stormed to the finals of both the Season 1 and Season 2 LW
tournaments - picking up 2009's "Submission of the Year" along the way
- only to lose in the finals both times. Fate, it seems, is destined
to keep Imada always 1 fight away from finally attaining "top
And then this. Despite being the pretty obvious No. 1 contender to the
Bellator title - what with his two tournament finals, and previous
history with Alvarez - and one of the most popular fighters in the
company, he is passed up for a title shot Fredo Corleone style in
favour of the newly interesting Huerta.
This is a slap to the face of a man who may have, with his Inverted Triangle submission win (and its 750,000 views on YouTube) single-handedly made Bellator's fortunes
like Bonnar/Griffin made the UFC's.
Ok, so perhaps I doth protest too much. Maybe they tried Imada first
and he couldn't take the fight, though for some reason I just don't
see it. Either or, there's no denying that A) Roger Huerta is a well
known, popular and marketable opponent for Alvarez, and B) that this
is going to be one hell of a fight. Both these fighters only work in
one direction: forward. The result should be another spectacular
addition to the Bellator FC highlight reel.
Maybe its just me. As much as I may not like it, headlines, media
attention, and casual fan interest is what drives matchmaking - how
else do you explain the caveman with the phallic chest tattoo getting a
title shot in his fourth professional fight?
Bellator needs a big main event, and when your fighting for the number two spot in a marketplace there just might not be the time, the money, or the will to stand by
things like rankings, proper succession, and title legitimacy. Big fights get made because they're big, if not always deserved.
Still, I'd like to see Bellator put more stock in their world titles,
or more accurately their champions.
Eddie should be facing the No.1 contender for his title, not Roger Huerta coming off a loss and a street fight.
Sure this fight will be a barnburner. But it will hurt the image of the Bellator lightweight championship, the man who holds it, and just what it symbolizes. Only Bjorn Rebney knows if that's worth the huge payday Huerta/Alvarez will bring.
Now if only somebody would punch a girl in front of Toby Imada.
By Elton Hobson
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