By the time Eddie Alvarez, training out of Fishtown’s Philadelphia Fight Factory, made it to the ring, his fans where frenzied. He is the most recognized Philly fighter and is notorious for having rabid fans- one notch below 1980 European soccer hooliganry. They wear matching uniforms and work themselves into a Orwellian hatred of his opponents. Roger Huerta, who trains with Team Extreme in Texas, may not have enjoyed being the most recognized man in MMA as he walked to the cage carrying a huge verbal bullseye on his back.
Things started off with both fighters looking crisp on the feet. Alvarez seemed to control the pace moving from the probing jab to the penetrating flurry of hooks and straights. Huerta, however, didn’t seem pushed back by either and countered efficiently. It seemed both fighters were in agreement that the fight should basically be a stand-up war of attrition. Alvarez slowly took control of this agreement and looked more and more comfortable holding up his end of the bargain as the round progressed. By mid-way the even exchanges had become one-sided with Alvarez smoothly moving in and out of range connecting on both the flurries and the jabs, occasionally snapping a low leg kick to maintain his control over the neutral space.
Alvarez mixed in a few takedowns but Huerta was able to stuff them. Huerta’s only other note worthy moment came towards the end of the round when, in one exchange, he landed a shot that stumbled Alvarez who is notorious for experiencing, but quickly recovering from, flash knockouts. Alvarez retreated defensively before regaining his composure and squaring back up. The affect did linger though as he seemed a half-step slower as the round closed.
Alvarez’s high energy more then returned in the second round as he continued to alternate between the jab and the flurry. His timing and measure of distance clicked and Huerta looked unable to stop either attacks when Alvarez threw a demoralizing (and possibly damaging) kick to the side of Huerta’s knee that caused him to buckle to the side. Alvarez then changed the dynamic again turning into a counter-puncher. His penetrations seemed to be designed only to lore Huerta’s hands out at which point he would return fire, striking over top of his overwhelmed opponent. By the end of the round, Huerta look completely resourceless.
Huerta captured a brief reprieve when he ended a standing scramble on Alvarez’s back. Hugging the body lock, he worked hard for the takedown and did finally get it, however Alvarez adjusted himself to mute any impact and immediately popped back up. The round ended and Huerta, in a outward show of defeat that is rare among top-level competitors, put his hands on his knees, bent over in exhaustion. Alvarez, in sharp contrast, looked ready to start the final round exactly as he started the first round, his now infamous top ten fade barely needing a touch-up.
While waiting for the next round, the arena was suddenly enlivened by Alvarez climbing the fence, pumping up his fans and then doing one of this signature back flips off the top of the cage. At that point it was apparent that the ring-side doctor had advised that the fight be stopped with Alvarez declared the winner.
Alvarez apologized in the post fight press conference that he couldn’t shake hands due to painful swelling of his knuckles.