Eddie Alvarez Wins a Decision, Keeps Bellator Belt

When Eddie Alvarez walked into the cage on Saturday night he was supposed to win in dominant fashion, befitting his status as the best and most popular fighter in the Bellator Fighting Championships. But Saturday's title fight against Pat Curran was tougher than Alvarez (and most fans) could have expected.

Alvarez won a unanimous decision to retain the Bellator lightweight title, and the scorecards (one judge scored it 49-46 while the other two judges scored it 50-45) make it look like the fight wasn't close. But Curran was a tough customer who was in it until the final bell.

"That guy's got a hard, hard head, man," Alvarez said of Curran afterward. "He can take a shot."

More Coverage: Bellator 39 Results

But Alvarez, who improves to 22-2 in his MMA career, has a hard punch. Even if this was far from his best performance, Alvarez managed to deliver another victory, and retain his status as Bellator's top fighter.

In other Bellator 39 action:

-- Rick Hawn advanced to the Bellator welterweight tournament final with a split decision victory over Lyman Good, in a fight the judges scored 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29. (I agreed with the lone judge who scored the fight for Good.) Hawn will face the winner of next week's Jay Hieron vs. Brent Weedman fight for the right to fight Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren.

-- Patricky "Pitbull" Freire advanced to the Bellator lightweight tournament final with a tremendous first-round knockout of Toby Imada. Pitbull landed a flying knee to Imada's chin, and although it didn't knock Imada down, he was out on his feet. Pitbull then threw a flurry of punches, finishing with a left hand that knocked Imada flat on his back. Pitbull now has to be considered the favorite to win the Bellator lightweight tournament; he'll fight the winner of next week's Michael Chandler vs. Lloyd Woodard fight in the final, for the right to face Alvarez.

-- UFC veteran Ben Saunders overwhelmed Matt Sung Lee in a bloodbath of a fight, landing punches, elbows and knees to open multiple big cuts on Lee's face. Eventually, the doctor had seen enough blood and stopped the fight during the third round, handing Saunders a TKO victory.

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