For Eddie Alvarez, rankings hold little influence once the bell rings. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez doesn't think much of the MMA media's top-10 rankings. According to the fighter, they help little when he steps into the cage. In the negotiating room, however, it's a different story.
“I understand that in order to get in the rankings, you have to first gain popularity. And I’ve been saying this over and over. There are going to be guys in the next couple of years from Bellator who are going to be ranked in the top-10, and that's not necessarily because they are better than the UFC guys,” said Alvarez during Wednesday's media conference call.
“[The rankings] are very subjective and very political. I think it's more of a popularity contest than a talent contest. Rankings, to me, are just a way to negotiate my money with a promotion. Other than that, they hold no bearing. It's all nonsense. A No. 1 guy can lose to a No. 10 guy any day of the week.”
That statement may hold special significance for Alvarez, who currently ranks as the fifth-best lightweight in the world. On Saturday, the Philadelphia Fight Factory standout will defend his lightweight title against the unranked Pat Curran at Bellator 39 from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Despite the perceived disparity in ability, Alvarez asserts that he has studied Curran's tendencies closely in preparation for their bout, which will air live on MTV2.
“I'm very fortunate to have the support that I have from my wife, my family and my fans. They allow me to be very selfish and just focus on the guy I have in front of me,” said Alvarez. “That's what makes me quite dangerous. I get crazy with watching tape, studying moves, going over things. It gets monotonous, but when I get sick of it, that's when I know I’m ready.”
Both accomplished grapplers in high school, some have questioned which fighter holds the advantage in the pure wrestling department. But for the champion, the answer to that question -- much like his opinion on divisional rankings -- means little when it comes to the fight.
“Pure wrestling doesn't really mean anything to me anymore. It's really about the ability to transition from one art to another seamlessly,” said Alvarez. “If Pat does have good wrestling, I don't feel like he uses it. I don't think that he is good at transitioning from his stand-up to his wrestling. I’ve been watching a lot of his tapes, and it looks like he gives it away. He makes it look like it's coming.”
While the champion did not explicitly give a prediction as to how his main event confrontation with Curran would end, he did elaborate on the respect he holds for his foe, who won Bellator's second-season tournament to earn a shot at the strap. That said, Alvarez is hoping that the underdog Curran holds nothing back when they go nose-to-nose inside Bellator's circular cage.
“I actually look up to Pat. It's something I did in 2008. Nobody knew who I was, and I put myself in a pit of fire in the Dream tournament. I think a lot of people are counting this kid out as well, but I’m praying that Pat comes to fight me and doesn't come to quit on me. I want him to fight me like he wants to win so we can put on a great show for all these people watching.
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