Eddie Alvarez was quick to remind people he hadn't yet lost on American soil, and he wasn't about to start in his hometown of Philadelphia.
Thursday in a non-title superfight against Roger Huerta at Bellator 33, the Bellator lightweight champion held true to that promise. Alvarez was seldom challenged by Huerta through two rounds, winning by TKO after the cageside doctor stopped the fight before the third round.
He worked kicks to Huerta's legs early in the first round that immediately chased Huerta from his southpaw stance. And those kicks set up a precision boxing display for the better part of 10 minutes. Though Alvarez rocked Huerta repeatedly, he was never able to land one big knockout punch.
"What a tough son of a ...," Alvarez said in his post-fight interview. "That guy wouldn't go down. I hit him with a lot of really good shots and my hat's off to Roger for staying in there as long as he did."
Alvarez continually was one step ahead of Huerta's best shots, forcing the eight-time UFC veteran into a counter-attacking gameplan. But most of Huerta's offense seemed to pass just close enough to Alvarez for him to know it was there.
Philadelphia is known for producing world-class boxers, including Joe Frazier, Sonny Liston and Bernard Hopkins. Even Rocky was from Philly. But Alvarez needed no Rocky-like comeback on Thursday.
Alvarez, whose five-fight winning streak coming into the bout featured five submissions, was able to land two first-round takedowns. And after dropping Huerta to his knees, Alvarez worked to take Huerta's back against the fence. After a knee from Alvarez, a right hand from Huerta showed a short sign of life late in the first round. But Alvarez was quickly up and answered with a pair of rights of his own.
In the second round, Alvarez continued to pepper away at Huerta. And slowly but surely, Huerta's left eye continued to look worse. With about a minute left in the round, Huerta caught an Alvarez kick and used it for a takedown. And after Alvarez got back to his feet, Huerta landed a suplex. But that was all the offense Huerta could muster, and it was too little, too late.
Alvarez, widely regarded as one of the top 10 lightweights in the world, improves to 21-2 with the win and has won six straight. Huerta, who had said before the fight that a loss might be his last in the sport, drops to 21-5-1 and 1-2 in Bellator.
Alvarez is next expected to defend his Bellator lightweight title against Season 2 lightweight tournament winner Pat Curran, who had to pull out of an anticipated title shot with Alvarez due to an injury.
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