“Well there’s a rose in the fisted glove and the eagle
flies with the dove, and if you can’t be with the one
you love, honey, love the one you’re with”
FRIENDSHIP, SPARRING AS CLOSE AS EDGAR & ALVAREZ WILL EVER GET
When Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Stephen Stills wrote his classic song, be assured that MMA wasn’t on his mind. When he penned it some forty years ago, MMA wasn’t on anyone’s mind.
Yet this rock standard could in a strange way be an anthem for MMA fans, all those who would love to see this particular fighter take on that particular fighter. Oh, but the caveat. The fighters are in separate organizations and one of those is the UFC.
Bottom line, these fights are never going to materialize in anything except speculation and dreams. The UFC has proved it doesn’t need to associate with anyone else.
So when I asked UFC champ Frankie Edgar and Bellator champ Eddie Alvarez on this week’s Inside MMA “Which has the better chance, Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie making a movie together or you guys fighting?” They laughed, got it immediately. And unlike the actresses, these guys are close friends, there is no feud.
Two of the top lightweights in the world, each with a belt in their organization, sat two feet apart knowing they have to love the organizations they are with, and the possibility of each meeting while still at the apex of their game is well, never going to happen.
They are very smart as well as terrifically talented. And they do have a gauge of sorts, their weekly training sessions, where these top echelon fighters come as close to the real deal as it will ever get.
“It gets competitive,” says Alvarez smiling. “Very competitive most of the time,” chimes in Edgar, “We have to catch ourselves at times.”
Alvarez from Philadelphia and Edgar from Toms River, New Jersey meet somewhere in the middle, at Ricardo Almeida’s gym in Hamilton, N.J. at least once a week.
There aren’t two other champions with as much in common. A couple of East Coast guys; strong family roots; established their careers early in Atlantic City; personable, witty but with that fire burning just below the surface; and both coming into their own over the last couple of years.
Sad for fans they can’t meet for “real” but each man attests to their training sessions as having an “intensity” that probably is better than many of the fights people are paying to see. “We have the same traits, Frankie is a great training partner,” says Alvarez.
As Edgar prepares for the rematch with Gray Maynard in UFC 130 May 28, after their draw in UFC 125, and Alvarez gets ready to defend his belt against Pat Curran in Bellator 39 on April 2, there is no doubt of the respect and appreciation for the other’s skills.
“His pace and speed, amazing. It’s fun watching guys little by little give up as the fight goes one,” Alvarez praises Edgar.
“The first MMA fight I ever saw in person was Eddie in Atlantic City. He’s so dynamic, takes the pace of the fight immediately. He’s one of the most exciting fighters out there,” Edgar marvels about Alvarez.
The only smack talk seems to be about Alvarez trying to persuade Edgar to make an appearance at the store he’s just opened in Philly. “I’m going to get him down here for a training deal see, and then take him around the corner to my store,” Alvarez smiles proudly. “He’s at least going to have to buy me a sandwich,” counters Edgar.
There will be no verbal tangling beyond that. Both champs are comfortable with who they are and where they are fighting. Both fully aware of what is best for them right now. “It where we can showcase ourselves the most,” Edgar notes.
Maybe someday, when their organizations glance the other way for some midweek work out, fans can rush to Almeida’s gym. Two of the best in the world will be in the ring, if only to train.
Make sure to watch Frankie Edgar and Eddie Alvarez as they join Kenny, Bas and Ron on Inside MMA 8:00pm ET this Friday on HDNet. Your Home for MMA
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