by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com

Joachim Hansen takes on Eddie Alvarez in the second round of the DREAM<br /> Lightweight Grand Prix

Joachim Hansen takes on Eddie Alvarez in the
second round of the DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix. MMAWeekly caught up with both
competitors before they face off May 11 in Saitama, Japan.


Joachim Hansen is coming off back-to-back
wins, entering this fight as the favorite, but many feel Eddie Alvarez is the
dark-horse to win the tournament.


"We have similar styles and it’s going to
be a good fight," Hansen told MMAWeekly.com.


Alvarez respects Hansen’s abilities and agrees
with his assessment of their fighting styles. "Even before this
tournament, I was a big fan of Joachim," said Alvarez. "I like the
way Joachim fights. He’s much like myself. He fights to finish the fight, not
to win the fight, and I think the two of our styles, the way we clash, it can
only make for the most exciting fight of the tournament."


This is the biggest fight of Alvarez’ career
and the American fighter recognizes the opportunity before him. "I realize
the opportunity that’s ahead of me, and it’s allowed myself to push myself
beyond barriers that I’ve ever pushed myself," said Alvarez.


"I believe this is the finals match. It’s
unfortunate that it has to happen so soon, but if we didn’t get to fight, it
would also be unfortunate. If we’re going to fight, we might as well do it now
and give the fans what they want to see. I think it’s a great match up."


Hansen is a natural lightweight and has
competed in that division his entire career. Alvarez recently moved down to the
lightweight division from the 170-pound welterweight class. "I’ve been
training very hard this time, so I’m a little bit under weight," commented
Hansen. "I’m eating a lot to make the weight."


Alvarez will have a size advantage over
Hansen, and expects to enter the ring well above the 154 weight limit after
re-hydrating following stepping on the scales for the weigh-ins.


"I usually start my cut around 176,
something like that, 176 pounds and I cut my weight down to 154 ," stated


"I would have never come down to 154 if I
didn’t feel it was to my advantage," said the Pennsylvania fighter.
"I feel like I’m a lot bigger than some of the guys, and I’m a lot
stronger. I’ve proved I can knock guys out at 170 pounds, and I think I can do
it again here at 155, just in more devastating fashion."


Both athletes foresee conditioning being a
factor in the outcome of the fight. "The first round is ten minutes and
we’re prepared to go ten minutes," said Hansen. "You have to be smart
and try and save some strength to use."


"I’m in the best condition that I’ve ever
been in, in my life," commented Alvarez. "I think a lot of it will
come down to conditioning. We both seem to get ahead of ourselves. We’re very
aggressive. We try to finish fights, so that will be a key factor. I think
conditioning is going to play a key role in the outcome of the fight."


(To watch the full pre-fight interviews with Joachim Hansen and Eddie
Alvarez, check out MMAWeekly’s FREE video library