It was the fight Bellator had to be hoping for all along and it’s happening in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez will get the chance to fight in his hometown against former UFC fighter and Sports Illustrated cover boy Roger Huerta in a 155lb showdown in the main event of Bellator’s latest offering.
Huerta was touted as the next challenger to Alvarez’s title when he was signed to the organization earlier this year, but a tournament loss to Pat Curran knocked him out of contention. An unfortunate injury to Curran put him on the sidelines, so Bellator called Huerta and gave him a chance for the fight he wanted all along.
“This is the biggest fight of my entire career,” Huerta said leading into the fight. “I believe that I’m one of the best fighters in the world and being matched up with Eddie will bring the best out of me. When I beat Eddie, I’ll show that I’m one of the best in the world too. I’ve lost a lot of close decisions and they’re all very heart breaking for me every time. I just cannot leave it in the judge’s hands. Nobody can. Those hard decisions have taught me to try to finish my fights.”
Huerta has gone just 1-3 in his last four fights, with all of his losses coming by way of decision. Prior to that time, Huerta was on a 16-fight win streak with one no contest. Regardless of past accomplishments, Huerta knows that he has to win on Thursday night to bounce back from the recent woes he’s suffered in the cage.
“I believe that I’m one of the very best in the world. I just need to show up,” Huerta stated. “I need to go out there and prove it. I need to be ready. The last few years have been quite a slump for me. I’ve a lot of issues in my personal life, but it’s up to me to come back and me strong. I feel like I’m in a better place mental than I have been for a while.”
Huerta bounced back in the public spotlight recently after a video of the former UFC lightweight getting into an altercation with a man who physically assaulted a woman made major headlines.
Spotlight or no spotlight on Huerta, it’s all the same for Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez who gets the chance to fight in the main event in his hometown of Philadelphia.
Fighting in the “City of Brotherly Love” is an honor for Alvarez, who has always had a huge east coast fan base, and he doesn’t plan on Huerta spoiling his coming home party.
“This is a dream fight for me. Right here in my hometown, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Alvarez said. “The only times I’ve ever lost have been outside of the United States. I’ve never even lost a fight here in the states so I’m definitely not going to start in my hometown of Philadelphia with all of my people there. That’s not going to happen. Not a chance.”
Since a 2008 loss to Shinya Aoki in Japan, Alvarez has gone on to win his next five fights in a row, finishing every single opponent along the way. He says he plans on making it six in a row with Huerta.
“My intentions will be to finish this fight, especially in my hometown. I want to make sure I give them what they paid for. I know I can fight. I know I’m one of the top lightweights in the world, and I know I can finish my opponents, whoever they put in front of me. I’m never going to leave the cage with any regrets,” Alvarez commented.
While his mind is solely focused on Roger Huerta, it’s hard to ignore Alvarez’s wish for a megafight between himself and Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez down the road. Alvarez is eager to prove he can hang with the best 155lber’s in the world, and the next test is Thursday night.
“I feel like there’s not a lightweight out there that I can’t beat,” Alvarez stated.
He’ll try to prove that point one more time when he faces Roger Huerta in the main event of Bellator 33 in Philadelphia.