The Rexplex Sports Complex in Elizabeth, N.J., in December of 2003. Ah yes, I remember it well. The ring was set up next to a skate ramp, with a big curtain seperating us MMA folks from the kids doing tricks on their skateboards. As for the fights, some lanky dude named Luke Cummo put his jiu-jitsu skills to good use and won his bout via submission, while another up-and-comer named Jay Hieron completely steamrolled over his foe. We paid attention to those bouts a bit more because Cummo and Hieron were somewhat established in the area, and though people cheered when Eddie Alvarez scored a dominant KO in his MMA debut, no one knew who Alvarez was or what he'd eventually accomplish in the sport. Why did I take this stroll down memory lane? Because Alvarez is leading off your morning news roundup.
- Former Bellator lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez has one fight left on his contract, and it looks like it's going to be used for a match-up against fearsome Brazilian monster Patricky "Pitbull" Freire. When it comes to fighter contracts and the willingness of promotions to re-sign their stars, there are a lot of moving parts that must taken into consideration - things like actual cost, anticipated revenue and just what the parties can do to further each other's interests. As one of Bellator's first "big" signings, Alvarez brought a ton of credibility to the organization, and Bjorn Rebney definitely made it worthwhile for the Philadelphia native in terms of cheddar. But nothing lasts forever, so here we are with a high-ranking lightweight very likely about to enter free agency. What do you do with him if you're Bellator? Give him a tough, sure-fire exciting match-up that will make your October 12 show a memorable one of course. And if you're Alvarez, you're going to want to win in the most impressive way possible to make sure your value when you enter free agency is at its highest. Well, you know who wins in all this? Us fans, because, Alvarez vs. Freire... yikes! That's all kinds of "wow"!
- Yesterday UFC president Dana White said Saturday's UFC on FOX 4 main event between Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Brandon Vera would determine the number one contender for UFC light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones' belt. Reactions were mixed (to put it lightly). Now White is backtracking a little bit and saying that if either of the occupants of Saturday's co-main event - a tilt between Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader - look impressive enough in victory, they could get the title shot instead. This certainly makes more sense. At least, only insomuch as Jones has pretty much slaughtered everyone that he's faced (including Shogun, Vera, Machida and Bader in prior match-ups), and why not offer up the title shot to whoever looks good? At this rate, Jones is going to be the first UFC champ to get to fight two challengers in the cage at once. (He'd probably win that fight, too.)
- Former UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch will be facing rising star Erick Silva at UFC 153 in Brazil. You have to imagine that at this point, after having had a run at the title but failing to move the needle in terms of exciting the fans, Fitch is on that spreadsheet that the UFC keeps that's titled "Fighters To Get Rid Of". Dude has to do something to get off that list...
That's all for now.