Eddie Alvarez (left) retained his Bellator lightweight title. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Pat Curran never went away, but Eddie Alvarez fights in another stratosphere.
Alvarez successfully defended his Bellator Fighting Championships lightweight crown for the first time in a clear-cut unanimous decision over Curran in the Bellator 39 headliner on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. All three cageside judges scored it for the 26-year-old champion: 49-46, 50-45 and 50-45.
In defeat, Curran forced Alvarez to go the distance for just the third time in his career.
“He just stuck in there,” Alvarez said. “I wish I had the heart he has at his age.”
Alvarez struck Curran on multiple levels, as he kicked the legs, smacked the body with heavy power punches and landed liberally to the head. He also secured takedowns in the first, third and fourth rounds, though he could not keep the resilient challenger down. Alvarez’s investment in body blows slowed Curran and neutralized his ability to counter effectively.
Alvarez picked up his pace in the third round, as he delivered uppercuts, hooks and right crosses to the head, following them with those horrendous shots to the ribs and gut. The world-ranked champion bloodied Curran’s nose in the fourth and staggered him with a clean left hook with a minute to go in round five. Curran landed a takedown of his own in the final 30 seconds, but the elusive Alvarez defended from his back and avoided any noteworthy damage.
“The guy’s got a hard, hard head,” Alvarez said. “He can take a shot.”
Olympian Hawn Ekes Out Decision
Hawn spent much of his time pressing forward and working from the clinch, delivering timely takedowns in the second and third rounds. The 2004 Olympic judoka weathered an encounter with a stiff Good uppercut in the first period and more often than not kept the chiseled Team Tiger Schulmann representative in a backpedal.
Hawn kept Good horizontal for a majority of round two, turning the fight in his favor while working from inside his guard.
A close third round -- a round in which Good appeared to be the more active and accurate striker -- ended with a flurry of action, as Hawn scored with a single-leg takedown and pounced on his grounded foe as the horn sounded.
“He hits hard,” said Hawn, who will meet the Jay Hieron-Brent Weedman matchup winner in the final. “I should have pushed a little harder. He’s won the tournament before. He’s been where I want to go.”
‘Pitbull’ KOs Imada, Reaches Final
Freire went to work on his foe’s lower extremities from the start, attacking the inside and outside of Imada’s legs with thudding kicks. He timed and landed his knee perfectly, as Imada, barely conscious in a standing position, tiptoed backward on wobbly legs. Freire lit up the submission specialist with two more power punches and put him down with a clean left hook to the head.
A winner in five straight, Freire will face the Michael Chandler-Lloyd Woodard winner in the Season 2 final. The 25-year-old Brazilian shed some tears in the aftermath.
“One year ago, I was coming from an injury and thinking about giving up, and now I’m here,” Freire said through a translator. “I can’t even put it into words.”
Saunders Smashes Lee in Bellator Debut
Saunders invited his foe to fight in close quarters, and the South Korean obliged -- to his detriment. The 27-year-old American Top Team representative dug into Lee with knees to the head and body, adding sharp, well-placed elbows as he went. By the end of round one, blood was flowing freely from Lee’s nose.
The scene repeated itself over and over again until Saunders opened the second cut near Lee’s left eye, forcing a merciful halt to the bout.
Winless in two starts under the Bellator banner, the 39-year-old Lee has lost three of his last four fights. Saunders will carry a two-fight winning streak into his next appearance.
More Bellator 39 »
• Bellator 39 Prelims: Nazare Stops Pride Veteran Azeredo
• Bellator 39 Results & Live Play-by-Play
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