Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez admits fear is a driving force behind his career. | Photo: Dave Mandel


Nothing motivates a competitor quite like the fear of failure, especially someone as successful as Bellator Fighting Championships lightweight titleholder Eddie Alvarez.

Alvarez will defend his lightweight crown for the second time when he meets the unbeaten Michael Chandler at Bellator 58 on Saturday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla. The 27-year-old champion will enter the cage on a string of seven consecutive victories, the second longest such streak of his career.

“My mindset and the way I train for fighters [have] nothing to do with my actual opponent,” Alvarez said. “I am always fearful to lose my spot, and that fear is what drives me more than anything -- that fear of losing. I have a lot of demons, and that boosts me. That helps me prepare the way I do for these sorts of belts, so I always, always, always fight up. The bigger the challenge you bring, the better I fight. I can’t wait to go out and show it.”

Alvarez, who has lost only once -- a December 2008 submission defeat to Shinya Aoki -- as a lightweight, draws upon other inspirations, as well.

“I go back to my old neighborhood,” he said. “It never lets me forget where I came from, what I want to achieve and where I want to go. When you live like that long enough, it becomes so painful to you that it’s not a want for you to go back there; it’s a need for you to never go back there, and it’s like water. To succeed, you need water. The success becomes like water. It’s a necessity.”

Chandler presents a myriad of challenges. A decorated amateur wrestler, he was a four-time NCAA qualifier at the University of Missouri -- the same program that gave rise to Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren and undefeated Strikeforce welterweight contender Tyron Woodley. Chandler’s transition to MMA can only be described as seamless.

“Michael Chandler is very aggressive and fights at a high pace, so he comes well-conditioned,” Alvarez said. “Whenever you have a guy who lacks experience, sometimes his work ethic makes up for that. You always have to be wary and worried about a guy like that, a guy who has a strong work ethic and a guy who is willing and can push the pace. They are always a threat. I’ve done my homework and have learned everything I need to know.”

Alvarez, who has three times as much MMA experience as Chandler, values the seasoning he has received since he turned professional in December 2003.

“The only way you can make up for experience is through good work ethic,” he said. “From watching Michael Chandler, it looks like he has that. He’s a smart guy. He knows what he has to do in order to be prepared for someone like me. I am at a point in my career where I have to be dominant every time now. I am worried about my own performance.”

The 25-year-old Chandler won Bellator’s Season 4 lightweight tournament with victories over Marcin Held, Lloyd Woodard and Patricky Freire. Based at Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts Arts in Las Vegas, he has stopped five of his eight foes inside the first round, two of them in less than a minute.

“I don’t believe Michael Chandler is going to bring anything I haven’t seen before, but you don’t know until you get in there,” Alvarez said. “He’s got a right hand, a left hand, two legs and a head. He’s a human being just like anyone else I’ve fought, so he definitely has the ability to beat me. He’s a threat to me and to anyone, but I have a job to do and it’s important that I do that job and be good at it. I’m more ready than I’ve ever been, and I can’t wait to get in there.”

Alvarez seems content with his preparation.

“I am set pretty much anywhere going into this fight,” he said. “I am very hard to take down, so there’s a small doubt in my mind [that] he will be able to do that, but if he is able to achieve that, then good for him. I have an undying confidence that I could finish the fight anywhere, no matter where I am, whether I am on the mat or standing up. I have been in every position and every situation you could be in, and I am very comfortable and confident in my career.”

A perfect 6-0 inside Bellator, Alvarez anticipates a difficult test.

“I think Michael brings a lot to the table and I do, as well, and you never know until you get in there,” he said. “A fight is a fight. When you get in there, you circle each other for two or three minutes and I think you kind of figure it all out and then solve the problem that’s in front of you. You really never know until you get in there. There is no reason for me to build up his chance or play down his weakness.”

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