Sunday, November 3, 2013

It feels like the first time


"It feels like the first time; it feels like the very first time." Such was the verse and the song of the same name by the rock band Foreigner back in 1977. That's exactly the thought that was going through my mind as I watched the rematch between Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler Saturday night for Bellator's lightweight championship. The first fight nearly two years ago to the day in November 2011 was considered fight of the year in many observers mind; last night may very well end up being the same for 2013.

In what was originally supposed to be the co-main event, which I always found hard to believe, to Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson vs. Tito Ortiz, in Bellator's first ever pay-per-view event, ended up being the main event on a free TV card on Spike; that was due to an injury suffered by Ortiz in training. Truth be told, that was the best thing that could have ever happened for Bellator because people got a chance to see two of the best lightweights in the world go at it again for free.

The first time, it was Alvarez (pictured above left) who was the defending champion and favorite while Chandler was the challenger. Last night the roles were reversed in a dream rematch that in the past year was in danger of never happening. That was due to Alvarez's long standing contract negotiations with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and the possibility that he may end up in the UFC. Luckily for us the fans, it worked out.

Sure people may say, we don't get a chance to see Alvarez face the likes of Gilbert Melendez, Ben Henderson and current UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis; but that's okay because it's obvious now after two fights and nine rounds that Eddie Alvarez (25-3, 14 KO's 7 subs) and Michael Chandler (12-1, 5 KO's 5 subs) are made for each other. They say styles make fights, well these two are perfect for one another the same way the late Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward never had a boring moment in 30 rounds of boxing; they just click.

In the first fight Chandler was able to wrestle away, literally and figuratively, the championship. Last night it was more of the same where both fighters got the best of each other at times on the feet, Chandler was able to score a few take downs and inflict some ground and pound, while Alvarez was able to punish Chandler every so often with some heavy blows. In the end this time it was Alvarez winning by split decision wit all three judges having scores of 48-47, one way or the other.

The decisive and (or) questionable round for me was the second. The first and fourth clearly went to Chandler, while the third and fifth were easily Alvarez's. The second though could have went either way as Alvarez was able to get a take down in that round, however that was also the round that Alvarez scored better with punches, including a left that wobbled the champion's knees and almost dropped him to one knee; that could have been the decisive blow. Dependent on how you scored the second round, is how you determined the winner.

In the end, the winner was us the fans because a third fight between these two is now a natural and the evidence shows that it will be as good as the first two. Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler are made for each other; to me it's clear that these two could fight 10 times and it will be great every time. As a matter of fact, it will always feel like the first time.

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