Eddie Alvarez is reinvigorated by this new opportunity.
This past Wednesday, Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship founder Dave Feldman announced that Alvarez had signed with the promotion and will face Chad Mendes at BKFC 41. The bout will be Alvarez’s bareknuckle debut and his first fight in almost two years, and “The Underground King” couldn’t be more excited about this new chapter of his career.
“Dave’s a Philly guy, the promoter,” Alvarez told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “They’re from Philadelphia. The Feldmans have been widely known from boxing in Philadelphia, so I knew Dave for a long time. I’ve always been under contract, but I’ve always talked to Dave, always congratulated him about how the promotion was coming along, and Bare Knuckle has always been something I’ve been interested in.
“I got to go to a local event in Hollywood, Fla., a couple months back, and after going to that event, my mind was pretty much made up. It was really about, from there, just finding the right opponent, finding the right guy to matchup with that will get me excited, that fans will really get excited about the matchup.”
When asked what specifically about the event drew him to BKFC, Alvarez explained that it reminded him of his younger, wilder days before becoming a professional fighter.
“The fight itself, fight was figured out in about three minutes, and it reminded me of when I first started,” Alvarez said. “I never fought an MMA fight, I got in a lot of street fights when I was younger. I’ve been in way more street fights than I’ve ever been in cage fights, so I remember when I got in fights, fights never lasted five, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20, 25 minutes. Fights got figured out in two or three minutes. A real fight with no gloves got figured out pretty quickly, and this reminded me right away that if you took the gloves off, what takes us 25 minutes today gets figured out pretty quickly in bare-knuckle. It’s about as real as it gets. It reminds me of when I was younger, and it got me excited all over again.”
“Everything’s different about it, and it gets me excited,” Alvarez continued. “I’ve been doing MMA since I was 19. That’s two decades of MMA. So it’s fun to throw something kind of new at me. Throw in Chad, Chad’s a crazy good opponent, fought world champion after world champion, he’s only lost to world-class fighters, and Chad’s a dog. It’s a new element, a new sport, against a worth opponent, so all of it combined, I’m really excited.”
All this enthusiasm doesn’t mean Alvarez is done with MMA, though. The former UFC lightweight champion unequivocally said he would fight in the cage again at some point, noting that his deal with BKFC allows him flexibility in pursuing other matchups outside of the promotion while also giving him the opportunity to work with Feldman.
“I can pretty much do what I like,” Alvarez said. “I partnered with Dave and partnered with his group. I’m kind of looking forward to — we’ll see how this goes. It’s a new venture for me. It’s something I’m excited about, and we’ll see how this goes. But I can do whatever I want. I do have options.
“Me and Dave work together closely. Awesome dude, and we’re going to work together pretty much closely and figure out what we’re going to do after this fight to move forward, not just myself, but to help move the promotion forward. I can see myself, just the training and everything going on, I can see myself getting excited and doing this more often.”
Alvarez said he’s already begun preparing for the differences in fighting bare-knuckle versus with gloves on, including special training for his wrists and forearms, and practicing fighting one-handed, in case he breaks a hand while punching. And with all the work he’s putting in, he anticipates a sensational debut coming April.
“I’m going to knock Chad Mendes out,” Alvarez said. “There’s not a doubt in my mind. Not a doubt. This isn’t MMA where I have to worry about a takedown, and I’ve got to hop around and move around and do all this crazy stuff because I’m worried about kicks and takedowns. I’m going to sit down on every single shot that I throw, and if I sit down and throw a shot with my bare hand, there’s not a single man on this card who is going to be able to take that. Not a single man.”
BKFC 41 takes place on April 29 at the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colo.