Arguably the biggest BKFC card to date saw the debut of former UFC and Bellator MMA lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez, paired up with former UFC contender Chad Mendes at BKFC 41 in Colorado on Saturday.
The debut of Alvarez, looking to shake off a rocky stint in ONE Championship, came in a fight that could potentially be the very last for “Money” Mendes, who had openly pondered retirement ahead of the bout.
Alvarez had preached accuracy over power ahead of his debut on Saturday, and showed that early, staying patient as the pair looked to find their range. Mendes surged forward, firing a right hand, and Alvarez welcomed the challenge. Both men connected, and things opened up a little as the final minute arrived. Alvarez fired an uppercut, a right, and Mendes was soon showing a bit of blood by one eye.
Round two saw Alvarez dropped early, though he immediately popped back up and gave a thumbs up. Mendes, rather than chase a finish, chose to take his time, and they squared off again. A couple of exchanges followed; Alvarez fanned on an uppercut that had some mustard on it. Mendes, meanwhile, worked his jab, and finished the round landing uppercuts and a hook.
It was Eddie Alvarez landing a knockdown of his own early in the third. Like Alvarez a round prior, Mendes was right back up. Eddie was on his horse in the second, and when Mendes whiffed on a big punch, “The Underground King” wagged his fingers in response.
Round four arrived with the fight still very much up for grabs. Mendes landed his jab. Eddie found a home for his right hook. As the round progressed, Mendes was walking down the former UFC champ, with Alvarez looking to counter. No knockdowns in this frame, and they would head to the fifth in what was still a close fight.
Alvarez pressed the action in round five, leading the dance and getting off several combos. Mendes had some success with counters, but circled out of harm’s way. The next exchange saw them tie up; the ref came in to separate them, and Alvarez was warned for punching off the break. Alvarez really turned up the heat in the final minute, just winging lefts and rights as Mendes covered up! Mendes went down, and Alvarez might have had it in the bag, but then Mendes scored a knockdown of his own right at the buzzer!
After an excruciating wait for the judges to render their verdict, the fight was ruled a split decision — in favor of Eddie Alvarez. A very close fight, and if that was the final fight of Chad Mendes, he went out on a good one, something Alvarez acknowledged in his post-fight interview.
After a brief break, Mendes returned to the ring to announce his retirement. “I’m officially hanging them up tonight,” said Mendes, thanking his dad, his coaches, Team Alpha Male, Urijah Faber, and the fans before making his exit.
Official Result: Eddie Alvarez def. Chad Mendes by split decision (47-46, 46-47, 47-46)