Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez wasn’t looking for an easy fight while waiting on a challenger to emerge from this season’s 155-pound tournament, and he’s not getting one.
Alvarez will meet UFC veteran Josh Neer in a non-title bout Thursday at the Wang Theatre in Boston.
“Regardless of who it is, anybody who's a veteran like Josh … it's always a risky fight,” Alvarez said Monday on the Sherdog Radio Network's Savage Dog Show. “I'm not fighting because I want to fight sh---y guys. I want to fight guys that are going to challenge me and make me put on the best performance that I could put on, or else it isn’t worth tuning in.”
Neer is also a proponent of putting on exciting bouts. He cited Alvarez’s aggressive style as one of the biggest reasons he took this fight with the lightweight from Philadelphia.
“He's a very exciting fighter, and I don't think he's the type of fighter that just goes in to try to win a decision or whatever,” Neer said on the Sherdog Radio Network's Beatdown program. “I think he's the type of fighter that goes in and tries to take his opponent out, and those are the type of guys that I want to fight. I don't want to fight guys that go in and try to get their win bonus.”
After his UFC 101 loss via decision to Kurt Pellegrino, Neer was critical of his opponent’s style and strategy. Neer hasn’t let up.
“The biggest issue is before the fight he was saying how it was going to be a war and he wanted me to stand toe-to-toe with him and all this stuff, and he didn't do that,” Neer said. “He went in and just tried to win a decision. He tried to get his win bonus. He didn't try and finish me. He didn't do s--t really.”
The bout left a bad taste in Neer’s mouth. Now he has no interest in even getting in the cage for potential fights like the one he had with Pellegrino at UFC 101.
“I didn't even feel like I was even in a fight,” he said. “Guys like that I don't even want to fight. I told my manager in the first place I didn't want to fight him because I knew if he took a fight with me, he was just going to try to win a decision. Those aren't the type of guys I want to fight. I want to fight guys that want to put on exciting fights and try to finish them, not guys that are just going to try and ground a decision.”
Those points from Neer sound like a lot of excuses to Bellator's lightweight champion, though.
“I've been fighting long enough and that's not a very smart comment: ‘I came to fight and he came to wrestle.’ Wrestling is a part of fighting, isn’t it?” Alvarez said. “You have to be ready for everything, and I think that's just the way he rationalizes a loss. A lot of fighters rationalize a lot of themselves in order to make themselves feel at ease about losing. I think that's a simple way of rationalizing and saying I lost because of this versus I lost because my wrestling stinks and I need to get it better.”
Yet Alvarez also seems to agree with Neer when it comes to delivering action.
“I don't think anyone gives a s--t if I win or lose, except for me, my family, maybe a few close relatives, so the majority of the people tune in to watch me do something crazy, do something exciting, do something to take risks and make a fight,” Alvarez said. “And I think the promoters, the people, the money behind it feel the same way that the win's not as important as putting on a ridiculous fight, a ridiculous show. So I don't know, I go back and forth with it. I think you should win and you should be able to do it in a exciting, devastating, high-paced, violent fashion.”