Friday, July 25, 2008
Regardless of the eye-injury that sidelined him in the finals, Philadelphia-born messiah Eddie Alvarez is the real winner of last weekend's Dream 5 Lightweight Grand Prix. He took out Andre Amade, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Joachim Hansen in impressive fashion to earn his berth in the finals, and though Hansen stepped in as an alternate to defeat Shinya Aoki when Alvarez was deemed unable to continue, the Nordic warrior can't really be all that proud of his new championship belt knowing he had to eat a unanimous decision loss along the way. So who is this Alvarez cat who's taken the international MMA scene by storm? Gather round kids, 'cause MMA Journalist was there when his career first began in the New Jersey fight circuit. - December '03 - Alvarez stepped into the ring for the first time at ROC 5, where he took out Team Serra/Longo rookie Anthony LaDonna. Takedown to punches from the mount to KO and it was all over in about four minutes. - April '04 - Alvarez had no trouble steamrolling over Pitts Penn fighter Adam Fearon at ROC 6, with Fearon tapping out in two minutes. - October '04 - Reality Fighting 7 saw the Alvarez phenemon take shape, as hundreds of cheering fans filled the stands to watch the Philly slugger KO grappler Chris Schlesinger in a minute. This phenemon caught the attention of MFC matchmaker Miguel Iturate, who scooped Alvarez up in the hopes that he'd reverse the promotion's ailing ticket sales. - February '05 - "USA vs. the World" was the theme of this MFC, and Alvarez stepped up to TKO Seichi Ikemoto. This one wasn't even close. - May '05 - MFC's "USA vs. Russia" pitted Alvarez against Danila Veselov. By now the word was out: don't let Alvarez punch you. The Russian got punched midway through the second round and it was all over. - November '05 - Daisuke Hanazawa fell at MFC's "USA vs. Japan" show. Alvarez's fans took up entire sections, and they went bananas and crowded the ring when he fought. The star even got his own pre-fight video montage - the only fighter on the card to get one. - June '06 - MFC put together another "USA vs. Russia" card, although Alvarez's bout with UFC vet Derrick Noble is more of a superfight. The legend of Alvarez had grown enough at this point to warrant a visit from West Coaster Jeff Sherwood (aka Sherdog). Sherwood predicted a KO win by Noble before the fight. Alvarez knocked Noble out in a minute. Sherwood conceded that Alvarez was the real deal. - After that, Alvarez hit the road, wrecking Hidenobu Koike in Japan, smoking Aaron Riley in British Columbia, and trouncing Scott Henze in Costa Rica. In Russia Nick Thompson handed Alvarez his only loss, but redemption came when he returned to the Garden State and defeated Matt Lee. And the rest is history.
Apparently all you need to earn a fight on network television is interesting hair. Don't believe me? Just ask perpetual journeyman Thomas "Wildman" Denny, a regional West Coast fighter who's fought and lost to some of the best while touting a curious array of hairstyles. On Saturday night, EliteXC returns to CBS with "Unfinished Business", a sophomore effort that will feature Robbie Lawler rematching with Scott Smith, Shayna Baszler spine-locking Cristiane Cyborg, and Jake Shields and Nick Thompson exchanging grooming tips in the cage. But the real star of the evening will be Denny's ever-changing locks when he takes on stoner Nick Diaz. Will the Wildman rock the cornrows? Will he go the multicolored route? Or will the mid-level fighter with the on-staff hairdresser throw down whilst sporting a pompadour, mohawk or bouffant? Only time will tell. But on Saturday night you can count on two things: Denny will lose, and his hair will be spectacular.