Philadelphia native Eddie Alvarez will look to advance to the next round in the Dream Lightweight Tournament on May 11th when he takes on Joachim "Hellboy" Hansen.
Alvarez, considered a dark horse in this tournament, is perhaps the most overlooked fighter in the tournament. With Aoki not able to compete, and "JZ" Calvancante not able to take his place, Alvarez possesses an excellent shot at winning the entire tournament. MMAWeekly Radio spoke with Alvarez recently to discuss his upcoming fight and feelings about competing for Dream.
"It's truly the big show," said an excited Alvarez. "UFC is the big show in the United States. (Dream) draws double what the UFC usually draws. If you want to fight in front of a sh**load of people and be recognized as a superhero, you fight in Japan. That's how I felt anyway."
Alvarez, who has fought the majority of his career at welterweight, has dropped down to 154 pounds for this tournament. While Japanese promotions are notoriously known for its last minute notice, Alvarez didn't seemed particularly bothered by that. "It's great because I got a call three weeks out to ask me if I wanted to be in it. I was like: 'You know what? This is the opportunity of a lifetime.' The experience itself was worth it. I didn't really care whether I won or lost."
After the Pennsylvanian fought Matt Lee last July in the Bodog promotion, he was unable to secure a fight until January, but not for lack of trying. "I trained a lot at the end of last year and I couldn't get a fight," Alvarez commented. "I promised myself that I was going to fight a lot this year and that I was going to fight tough opponents. With this tournament, I got both of them."
EliteXC, M-1 and Dream have secured Alvarez's wish to fight a lot this year and that's just fine with him. "I'm under contract with three different companies and it's great to be wanted. I'm glad I'm able to put on exciting fights for these guys. This year is about experience for me. I don't want to concentrate so much on winning. I want to get in the ring and get the experience..."
Alvarez's next fight with Joachim Hansen is certainly a tough one. Hansen is well known for his excellent striking skills and has victories over top lightweight fighters such as Takanori Gomi, JZ Calvancante, Caol Uno and Yves Edwards. However, Alvarez believes he has all the skills needed to defeat Hansen. "I think I match up well against him. He has good stand-up. He's a very well rounded fighter. Cutting down to this weight, I can match up well with anyone. Where he's strong, I'm a little bit stronger. I have all the tools to beat him. I just have to go in there and apply those tools."
"He's very robotic in his movement. He's very stiff. I'm more agile. I have a lot of advantages. I just have to come in focused and do what I do."
Strategies are an integral part of the game for any mixed martial arts fighter and it is no different for Eddie Alvarez. "I always watch tapes and look at tendencies of other fighters," he said. "But when you get in the ring, your fight style is always going to be consistent. You can't work off of other people's tendencies all the time."
"I know how to fight southpaws. I'm very good at fighting southpaws. In fact, every southpaw I've fought has been the nastiest knockouts I've ever had. I feel very confident fighting them," exclaimed the 24 year old.
Now that Alvarez has several venues to fight in this year, he's completely zoned in on his fighting career. "I'm completely focused this year. I'm in excellent shape. I think I'm at the weight I should be at."
If Alvarez defeats Hansen, Alvarez will move to the next round to take on more top ranked fighters to establish himself as a contender in the lightweight division. However, Hansen stands in his way and is no pushover.
The one thing that Alvarez believes is that there won't be a need for the judges for this fight. "I don't feel like this fight is gonna go to decision. Joachim doesn't seem to stand around. It's gonna be a knockout or a TKO. One of us is going to knock something loose. I'm hoping it's me. If I had to predict, I'd say Alvarez with a knockout about four minutes into the first round."