Written by: Joshua Hughes

Bellator 66 will feature a showdown between Shinya Aoki and Eddie Alvarez, two of the top lightweights not signed with the UFC. While both are considered by many to be within the top ten of the Lightweight Division, the implications carried by this fight are not extremely heavy. Both have been at the top of various organizations, with Aoki being a former Dream Lightweight Champion and Alvarez being the first ever Bellator Lightweight Champion, and they have already clashed once before. Aoki defeated Alvarez in their first outing and will be looking to do so again, whilst Alvarez guarantees this will not happen.

Here is the breakdown:

Shinya Aoki (30 – 5 (1 NC) MMA): Japanese standout Shinya Aoki first rose to stardom when competing in the late years of Pride, a now defunct MMA organization. He forever secured a spot on highlight reels with his submission of fellow LW Joachim Hansen, pulling off the rarely seen gogoplata. He is a BJJ Blackbelt under former MMA LW Yuki Nakai, but is more known for his use of Eddie Bravo’s famous style, “10th Planet” Jiu Jitsu. Aoki is considered by many to be the “bad boy” of Japanese MMA, and a vengeful Eddie Alvarez will be looking to hand him his punishment.

Keys to victory: There is no doubt that Aoki’s strength is in his ground game. He is a BJJ and Judo black belt and has never been one to trade punches. His opponent, however, holds twelve wins by (T)KO and would love to turn the lights out on Aoki. For this reason, Aoki will have to aggressively pursue the takedowns. When they are standing, he must maintain a safe distance and always be looking for the opening to clinch or shoot. On the ground, he needs only to work his magic.

Eddie Alvarez (22-3 MMA): With wins over notorious stars such as Roger Huerta, Joachim Hansen and Pat Curran, there is no reason for anyone to not be familiar with Eddie Alvarez. A professional fighter for over 8 years with multiple “Fight of the Year” awards from different organizations, Eddie Alvarez is one of the most talented and exciting fighters in the Lightweight Division. He trains at Imperial Athletics in south Florida among the likes of Marcus Aurelio and Frankie Edgar, a 4th degree BJJ black belt and MMA fighter, and should be well prepared to face the dangerous ground game of Aoki.

Keys to victory: Though Alvarez lost his first fight with Aoki by submission (heel hook), he is no slouch on the ground. He holds seven submission victories including one over former UFC LW Josh Neer. However, Alvarez’s best attribute has always been his heavy hands. Alvarez is a skilled boxer going against an opponent who has a significant disadvantage in striking as well as a weak chin. Alvarez should attempt to keep this standing, and only fall back on his amateur wrestling background if he needs to sprawl against Aoki’s takedowns.

Prediction: Aoki’s best moves will be shown in his entrance to the arena. Once the fight begins, Alvarez, having learned his lesson the last time they met, will keep this fight standing and end the fight in the first round with a brutal right hand.

Result: Alvarez by 1st round KO.

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