Bellator lightweight champion is a force to reckoned with in his weight class.
After an illuminated run in Japan, where Alvarez has picked up some of the biggest wins of his career, which includes victories over the likes of former DREAM lightweight champion Joachim Hansen, former Shooto champion Tatsuya Kawajiri and current DEEP lightweight champion Katsunori Kikuno.
En route to Bellator gold, he was able to submit all three of his opponents, including the heralded Toby Imada, a Jiu-Jitsu whiz who became an internet sensation with his inverted triangle choke over lightweight notable Jorge Masvidal, which garnered Imada the “Submission of the Year” on several publications, including a trophy award at the 2009 World MMA Awards, hosted by Fighters Only.
So when Alvarez, 26, heard word that Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez has called him out on numerous occasions, the Philly fighter didn’t take too kindly to it.
Eddie made the most of his opportunity when he was guest on “The MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani, and confronted Scott Coker, the CEO of the San Jose based organization, regarding their champion.
“Scott, It seems as though your lightweight champion keeps on calling me out on every interview and I have no problem with that”, began the enigmatic lightweight.
“I’ve never said anything about the kid and I would never say anything at all. Never even approached anybody about fighting Gilbert Melendez. He just doesn’t shut up, every other interview he’s talking about fighting me ‘Oh I want to fight Eddie Alvarez, I want to fight Eddie Alvarez’ and it really makes me look bad because I see (the interview) the next day later. So Bjorn [Rebney] (Bellator Fighting Championship CEO) says it’s OK, I say it’s OK, Gilbert is telling the world that he wants to fight me. I assume you’re the only one left to agree.”
Gilbert Melendez has been on the mend, taking the rest of the year to help him recuperate from injuries sustained in back-to-back 5 round title fights against Josh Thomson, which helped him avenge his only other loss hanging out there (the first was against Mitsuhiro Ishida, which he later avenged as well), and most recently Shinya Aoki, who holds a victory over Alvarez, in April of this year. Melendez soundly defeated the DREAM lightweight champion in his first title defense, shucking off any take down attempts while raining down the hammer on his Japanese foe. He was able to come away the victor, winning every round on the judges score cards.
While talks had been in place before, a sort of more subtle meeting of the minds with the CEO’s Scott Coker and Bjorn Rebney, both parties appear to be game–the sticking matter, appears to be how co-promotion would work for both parties, considering Strikeforce’s ties with CBS, Showtime, and now M-1 Global.
“First of all, I have tremendous respect for you. I think you’re a great fighter, great champion of Bellator and I followed your career over in Japan when you were fighting over there and these things are sometimes a little complicated”, stated the cautious Coker.
“It’s not just the fight, of course we would love to make the fight, but there’s so many details to be worked out between the promotions to make it happen. Bjorn did call me and I did talk to him and this was probably two months ago. I said look, Gilbert has a broken hand at the time so let’s just table this until the future, but after the KJ Noons/Nick Diaz fight, we can readdress this. We’ve been open to co-promotions with every league so that’s not the issue. The issue is how does it work on a business level between our two leagues and if we can work that out, we would love to have it.”
So, MMA peeps, what do you make of this? Would you like to see Melendez in action against Alvarez? Who do you take in this match up? Sound off in the comment section below.