Eddie Alvarez didn’t have the kind of performance he was hoping for Saturday night at UFC 188, but it still resulted in his initial Octagon victory.
Alvarez, a former Bellator champion, downed the ex-Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez in the co-main event via split-decision.
Following the opening five minutes, Alvarez (26-4) blew his nose and his left eye nearly completely swelled up. That forced him to change his game plan and resort to grappling and wrestling.
“I would love to take that back,” he said of the eye injury. “It’s all connected. I fought through it.
“I would have liked to open up a little more, but I had to fight through my eye (injury).”
Years in the making, Alvarez and Melendez had several heated exchanges. However, after the 15-minute battle, the two congratulated each other and embraced.
Alvarez scored with a late takedown in the first and tallied three takedowns total. That helped off-set the plus-50 advantage Melendez had in strikes landed.
“I found that chink in his armor late,” he said. “I had to go after it cause of my eye.”