After dominating Pat Curran for five solid rounds, Eddie Alvarez maintained his definitive position as the Bellator lightweight champion. Though Eddie defended his title with a decisive and formidable showing, it seems that a number of MMA fans still weren’t impressed.
According to various forums, fans felt that Alvarez should have finished Curran, who is a relatively new and unranked fighter. Plus, they felt Eddie’s lack of finishing the up-and-comer should lower his value and overall ranking.
Though Eddie should’ve implemented more kicks and uppercuts, which were quite successful versus Roger Huerta, there’s still a great deal of positive points that emerged from his first title defense. As for future opponents, this fight performance gave them much more to think about when facing the lightweight champ.
1. Superb Cardio
Eddie still looked fast and powerful going into the championship rounds. As most of Alvarez’ fights hadn’t gone the distance, it was great to see the lightweight fight five solid rounds, without dissipating or weakening. Interestingly, some of his fights in Japan had 10-minute rounds.
Even today, some of the top ranked fighters still don’t have the stamina to handle the latter rounds. It was impressive to see that Eddie’s speed and footwork didn’t falter either.
2. Body Punches Really Hurt
To complement his excellent speed and footwork, Eddie was able to display extreme accuracy in assaulting the body. As Curran absorbed the stinging hits, it led to his deflation and opened up a potential facial attack, something Eddie could’ve implemented a bit more.
If the body is open, why not? Body shots have a way of taking their toll on a fighter. It disrupts one's breathing, depletes core strength and can immediately change an opponent's psyche and positioning.
3. Control of the Killer Instinct
Throughout the fight, there were moments in which Eddie did hurt the challenger. In past fights, when such instances would occur, it would’ve been expected for the Philadelphia fighter to advance, let loose and let the punches fly.
Granted, Curran didn’t have too many weapons that day, but he does have knockout power. As Eddie’s coaches were well aware of Pat’s strength, it was good to see Eddie not extend himself like he has in the past, opening himself to flash knockdowns and eating powerful punches, regardless of his solid chin and excellent resiliency.
According to the title holder’s Muay Thai coach, Ricky Lee, the champion had to be extremely cautious in his attack: “If Eddie punched, kicked or shot in, we knew Pat’s strongest and only response was his fists. That’s why we were careful in our approach.”
As fans prefer to see a fusillade of punches exchanged, controlling a fight for 25 minutes is a still quite an achievement.
4. Signs of Maturity
Some fighters get too hungry and overly aggressive in going for the knockout or submission. In doing so, leaving themselves open to get hurt, knocked out or controlled. Eddie was able to maintain a steady offense throughout the fight, without putting himself in too much danger. Plus, he was able to cause a great deal of damage, amidst the looming KO power of Curran.
As many wanted to see a finish, the Philadelphia Fight Factory instructor was very happy with his fighter’s performance:
“It was great to see Eddie control his aggression by fighting smart. He totally controlled Curran the entire fight, without worrying about fans and highlight reels. I wanted him to feel what five rounds was like. Fighters who worry about highlight reels will inevitably get caught.”
As Eddie Alvarez continues to grow and prosper as a fighter, people questioned his motive of turning his back on Curran in the later rounds. Some say it was disrespectful, some think it’s a stall tactic to run out the clock.
According to standup coach Lee, “It’s something Eddie does to reset and clear his mind, as it increases his overall intensity. It helps regain composure to allow clearer thinking and change his attitude while in the ring.”
Though turning one’s back doesn’t seem like the smartest thing to do, it seemed Pat had no offense whether Alvarez turned his back for a moment or five seconds.
Regardless how the Bellator Champion re-tunes or re-shifts his thinking in the cage, that too, is a sign of maturity.
Roland Riso is a contributing writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained first-hand.