Thursday, October 21, 2010

Alvarez stops Huerta at Bellator 33

By John McMullen

Philadelphia (The Phanatic) - Philadelphia's own Eddie Alvarez, one of the top-ranked lightweights in the world, stopped former UFC star Roger Huerta in the main event of Bellator 33 at the Liacouras Center on Thursday night.

The 26-year-old Alvarez, the Bellator lightweight champion who was born in Kensington, trained in Fishtown, and lives in the Northeast, TKO'd Huerta in what many were calling the biggest fight in Bellator history despite the fact it was a non-title affair.

The bout was originally penciled in as a title shot for Bellator's season two lightweight tournament winner Pat Curran, who topped Huerta in the semifinals of that competition but had to pull out with an injury. Huerta, who was once tabbed by Dana White to be the face of UFC in the Latino community, has fallen on hard times of late and lost for the fourth time in five fights.

Chants of Eddie ... Eddie ... Eddie greeted Alvarez, a product of the Philadelphia Fight Factory and a veteran of Japan's famous Dream promotion, as he entered the arena.

A pair of hard leg kicks seemed to stun Huerta early and Alvarez followed with a number of blows that nearly finished the Texan. Huerta showed a lot of heart, however, and stunned Alvarez with a shot of his own late in the opening round.

"We worked on that when he went southpaw," Alvarez said of the leg kicks.

Alvarez continued to pepper Huerta's left leg with solid kicks in Round 2, while settling into a nice defensive style that limited any real punching angles for the hard-charging Huerta.

Huerta then could not answer the bell for Round 3 thanks to a knee injury and Alvarez, who won Bellator's inaugural 155-pound tournament last year, jumped to the top of the cage to celebrate with his hometown fans before moonsaulting back inside.

"Definitely a success tonight, everything I could have dreamed of went exactly according to plan. Everything went perfectly I couldn’t be more happy," said Alvarez.

The other main event saw former U.S. Olympic wrestler Ben Askren, the Season 2 welterweight tourney titleist, cash in of his championship shot by topping the previously undefeated Lyman Good to win the welterweight crown.

Askren (7-0), a multi-time NCAA champion grappler and Hodge Trophy winner at the University of Missouri as well as a 2008 Olympian, dominated Good (10-1) with his wrestling base and superior conditioning for most of the fight.

MMA fans rarely enjoy wrestlers and the crowd was clearly behind Good, exploding when he was able to reverse Askren on the ground and escape an attempted triangle in Round 1, but the New York native really had no answer for Askren's world class grappling skills until very late in the fight.

Things perked up a bit at the onset of the fourth round when Askren shot for the takedown and missed, and again when referee Kevin Mulhall inexplicably stood the fighters up. Good then nearly pulled it out with an upkick and subsequent deep triangle choke late in Round 5 but Askren was able to slip out and hold on for the unanimous decision, winning all three scorecards, 49-46, 48-47, 50-45, to take the belt.

"I’m glad people got a chance to see my heart. I’m pretty happy with my performance. I told people I was ready to five and that’s what I did," said Askren. "I’ve only been punching things for about a year, so I have a lot of room for improvement."

In other televised bouts, which aired across the country on both FOX Sports Net and ComcastSportsnet, Brazilian featherweight Wilson Reis, who now fights out of Philadelphia, upended former WEC and IFC star Devidas Taurosevicius by split decision, and undefeated welterweight Rick Hawn, a 2004 U.S. Olympian in judo, stayed perfect by topping the capable Levon Maynard by knockout at 4:53 of the first round.

Reis (11-5) earned the first round by controlling the clinch and sweeping Taurosevicius (12-5) to the canvas. He then almost finished things in the second with a triangle but Taurosevicius showed some signs of life in the
final round with a hard right from the mount. Reis was able to reverse, however, and run out the clock for a the split decision victory, 28-29, 29-28, 29-28.

Hawn (9-0) tripped and fell after glancing Maynard (10-7) with a right high kick to the head but Maynard made the mistake of following Hawn to the ground and the Olympian quickly unloaded with some vicious ground and pound before referee Keith Peterson rushed in and stopped the bout.

"They had a good defense for me," Hawn said. "I had to get moving around and I finally did. I put everything in those punches."

Philly bantamweight Fred Evans Jr. kicked off the night by catching Lewis Cassner in a triangle choke at 3:20 of the first round in the professional debut for both fighters while Tuan Pham (2-4), another Philadelphia fighter, wasn't as lucky in the second bout of the evening, falling to Nick Cottone (7-1) of Pine Hill, NJ by unanimous decision in a 130-pound catchweight bout.  All three judges scored that one 29-28 for Cattone, who controlled a rather dull fight on the ground.

Meanwhile, in post-television dark matches, Luiz Azeredo got past Eduardo Guedes via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), Kenny Foster topped Lester Caslow also by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) and Tim Carpenter edged Jamal Patterson via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

"What an incredible night of fights, my first thank you tonight is to the city of Philadelphia," said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney. "The crowd, the energy was great, I’m glad Philadelphia fans were treated to a world-class mixed martial arts display."

Notes: Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren, who won the crown with an impressive KO of Joe Soto back on Sept. 2 in San Antonio was at ringside...Just about the entire lower bowl in the Liacouras Center was filled and this was easily the second biggest MMA card in Pennsylvania since the sport was sanctioned by the state in 2009. UFC 101 featuring Anderson Silva and B.J. Penn sold out the Wachovia Center back in August of 2009.

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