Kikuno got Alvarez in trouble early, putting him in an odd neck crank that didn't seem close to making him tap -- but was clearly causing him pain -- at the start of the first round. But Alvarez survived the early onslaught, and in the second round he used his punching power to drop Kikuno, and forced Kikuno to tap with an arm triangle choke.
Alvarez was once known as a brawler who won or lost by trading punches, but he's a much more complete fighter than that now. After losing with a quick heel hook submission to Shinya Aoki on New Year's Eve, Alvarez has worked hard on improving his ground game, and he won the Bellator lightweight tournament by submitting all three of his opponents. He's now a real threat on the ground. You couldn't say that about him a year ago.
Alvarez has been one of the most active fighters in the sport over the last couple years, going 4-1 in 2008 and now 4-0 in 2009. Bellator has big plans to keep him active, with at least one fight in both its second and third seasons of 2010. It'll be great for the larger audience on Fox Sports Net to see Alvarez, because he's one of MMA's most exciting lightweights. And now that he's gotten better on the ground, he's also one of the best.