Eddie Alvarez has certainly rocked the Bellator boat since signing with the promotion back in 2009; competing on the first ever BMMA event, Alvarez won three straight by submission to win the lightweight tournament final and become the promotion’s inaugural champion at 155 pounds. Alvarez held the belt until his 2011 barn burner against Michael Chandler, losing by submission in the fourth round at Bellator 58.
The time following his two rebound wins against Shinya Aoki and Patricky Freire was fraught with contract disputes, leading to a nearly yearlong absence from the sport. Upon his return in November 2013, ‘The Silent Assassin’ defeated reigning champ Michael Chandler in a thriller at BMMA 106, and all was seemingly back on track. Then came the injury that put Alvarez out of the BMMA 120 PPV trilogy-maker against Chandler, and the lightweight champion spoke recently with MMAFighting.com about the concussion that has him laid up:
“It was during one of [coach] Kenny Monday’s wrestling practices,” he told host Ariel Helwani. “Me and Abel Trujillo were wrestling. I shot in, he defended like with a hip check, sort of hit me, and I just remember feeling like it was a significant blow. Well, we just kept wrestling and kept going, and there was a couple of exchanges later, I had a separate partner. I had a single-leg, and they pulled out of the single-leg and their heel hit me underneath my chin, and that was only about two or three minutes later after I shot on Abel. So, it was a series of significant hits that I took.”
Significant hits to the head are never good, but training that hard in the weeks leading to a fight seems to be a common habit among the big names of MMA. Countless title fights and PPV cards have been scrapped due to injuries in the past, and no contingency plan is ever going to make up for the loss of a fight like Jose Aldo vs. Anthony Pettis, for instance.
“I’ve been hit harder,” he said. “I got knocked out before the last Chandler fight, probably five weeks before the fight I got knocked out. All I did was rest. I kind of took off live training for like two weeks and then I went right back into it and fought Mike. So, concussions and getting hit hard is not something that’s new to me. These particular symptoms were all new to me, I had never felt these before, so I got a little afraid of what was going on.”
Concussion is far too commonplace in combat sports, but usually in relation to training injuries. TJ Grant has been removed from the lightweight rankings after extended absence due to concussion, but there is a much more dangerous type of brain injury called compression. Although it sounds as though Alvarez isn’t suffering symptoms of serious brain tissue damage, or an accumulation of blood on the brain, it would seem prudent to take a little more care in training.
“When I get into the training room, any kind of impact training, even when I shadow box — if I throw my own punches, just the stopping and the jolting motion — it really puts pressure on my brain,” he said. “Really, if I can describe it, it feels like my brain was like sort of bruised. It feels like a squeezing of my brain. My doctor says it was vestibular system that was sort of out of whack, which is the system that controls my head and my eye movement.”
With Alvarez set to be laid up for the coming weeks/months, number one contender Michael Chandler will battle Will Brooks for the interim strap. Complications are probably the last thing Bellator needs right now, but it seems that they are stuck with them in the case of Eddie Alvarez.
Photo credit Jason Silva USA Today Sports