Alvarez: Strikeforce’s Coker Trying to ‘Protect’ Melendez
Eddie Alvarez had a hotel room, but he decided to go home Wednesday and sleep in his own bed.
He woke Thursday morning and had a cup of coffee with his wife. Come afternoon he met with his coaches at the Fight Factory and watched footage of Roger Huerta. Come night he went down to the Liacouras Center and battered Huerta until the doctor stopped their entertaining lightweight bout after the second round.
“Now I’m gonna go home. It’s perfect,” Alvarez said of headlining Bellator 33 in his hometown of Philadelphia.
Huerta was gutsy, as always. He scored a flash knockdown in the first round, a slam in the second. Mostly, though, he absorbed punishment. Alvarez landed with his hands regularly, swelling Huerta’s left eye, but his kicks might have done the most damage.
“Every single thing worked tonight. Every single thing,” said Alvarez, Bellator’s lightweight champion. “It was sort of like [my coaches] plugged the remote control into the back of me, told me what to do and played with a paddle just like a video game.”
The uppercuts Huerta ate were ordered earlier that day when Alvarez studied footage with his coaches. Muay Thai trainer Ricky Lee pointed out that Huerta was open to the strikes. Alvarez used them relentlessly on the inside when he wasn’t crippling Huerta with kicks on the outside.
“He fought a hugely motivated Roger Huerta tonight, a guy who had everything to lose in this fight and everything to gain at the exact same time,” said Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. “And [Alvarez] literally dominated from start to finish.”
At the postfight news conference both Rebney and Alvarez turned to pushing for a co-promotional bout against Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker told Sherdog.com earlier this month he was interested in making the match, but he cited various obstacles, most notably television.
Strikeforce has a deal with Showtime. Bellator has deals with Fox Sports Net and NBC. Coker called television a “big issue,” but Rebney dismissed it Thursday.
“There aren’t promotional issues,” Rebney said. “There aren’t any barriers to entry. There aren’t any hurdles.”
In fact, Rebney said the fight could take place on Strikeforce’s network and on the San Jose-based promotion’s home turf.
“What television network is it going to be on? We’ll do it on Showtime,” Rebney said. “Where will the fight happen? Well, let’s do it in San Jose. The answers to the questions are very simple.”
Rebney was careful to express his respect for Coker and Strikeforce, but he also blamed the promoter for preventing an Alvarez-Melendez matchup.
“There’s no reason that fight shouldn’t happen but for the fact that the promoter of Gilbert Melendez doesn’t want it to occur,” Rebney said.
“Scott Coker doesn’t want it to happen,” Alvarez echoed. “He’s trying to obviously protect his champion. I guess he has every right to. He has a business to run, so whatever.”
Coker has referenced other factors impeding the bout. Rebney’s stated willingness to send it to Showtime and San Jose might move the fight a little closer to reality, though. Alvarez would be far from his own bed and his Philly brethren, but he says a matchup in Melendez’s backyard would be worth it.
“I want to be number one in the world, and the only way to do that is to fight people like Gilbert,” Alvarez said. “If we can get our hands on him and the contracts work out, then that’s what we’ll do. But until then, it’s just talk. The paper’s gotta be signed. Let’s make it happen.”