Olivier Busquet vs JC Alvarado

3 years ago
Busquet vs Alvarado
28 Apr

The long-awaited MMA fight between Olivier Busquet and JC Alvarado turned out to be a brutal affair, with Busquet winning by TKO after three rounds of full-on ground and pound. The lighter Alvarado was simply no match for his heavier opponent.

With $270,000 on the table after Alvarado stepped up to accept Busquet’s open offer posted last September – “Looking for MMA training motivation - trying to gauge interest in six figure fight from anyone in poker community...” opinion was split on whether Alvarado’s MMA training experience would overcome Busquet’s massive weight advantage and great fitness.

With six months of training behind them both, Busquet proved he had learned how to fight and then some, with a brutal series of strong, straight punches followed by non-stop pummeling, with Alvarado’s corner finally threw in the towel at the end of the 3rd round – the plucky Mexican’s face was, by this time, a mass of cuts, weals, and blood.

Going into the fight, the tale of the tape showed some serious differences between the two poker players-turned-fighters.

Alvarado was fighting at welterweight (165lbs) while it was agreed Busquet would enter the cage at the light-heavyweight limit (187.5lbs). This discrepancy would prove fatal to the Mexican’s hopes of winning – although the actual bet saw Busquet put up only 120k to the Mexican’s $150k, with respect to the Brazilian jiu-jitsu background Alvarado possesses.

"Big news,” tweeted Alvarado back in October. “ olivierbusquet and I have agreed to an MMA fight. My 150k to his 120k, he weighs in at 187.5, I weigh in at 165.” Poker-pro-turned MMA fighter Terrence Chan claimed at the time:

JC deserves to be fave based on experience. It comes down to 1) Liv's natural athleticism, 2) how seriously he trains.”

The entrance of both fighters was a markedly different affair – the lighter Alvarado looked confident, shadow boxing at speed and showing off a well-executed roundhouse kick as he approached the cage. In contrast, Busquet walked quietly and calmly towards the long-awaited bout, held in the Syndicate MMA Training Center in Las Vegas.

When the bout started, it was clear that Busquet massively out-gunned Alvarado in terms of both size and strength, the 22.5lbs difference looking more like 35+lbs of muscle! For Busquet, a former choir-boy and philosophy graduate with clean-cut looks, it was a huge change in look! Gone was the pretty boy, replaced by a monster who really would not have looked out of place in a real UFC light-heavyweight bout.

Alvarado’s game-plan seemed clear from the off – leg-kicks and front-kicks to the bigger man’s knees to slow him down – but when the first of Busquet’s huge straights landed, knocking Alvarado on his ass, it was clear that unless the Mexican could find a way to take Busquet out on the ground there would be only one winner.

There were a reported $1.5million in side-bets accompanying the bout, but the crowd consisted of 100 or so friends and MMA fans surrounding the ring (including the likes of Dan Colman and Martin Jacobson). The spectators were quite vocal throughout the fight, though much of that was advice being shouted in Spanish to the smaller Alvarado, who was pinned to the ground for long periods, desperately trying to avoid the elbows and hammer-fists of the American.

What Busquet lacked in refined technique, he more than made up for in sheer power and excellent cardio. Similarly, although Alvarado’s technical skills couldn’t quite land the armbars and triangles he so needed, he proved to have an incredibly good chin and a will to fight – broken only at the end of the 3rd round when his corner seemed to think he’d had enough.

Carrying the weight of a massive Busquet on top of him for minutes at a time had taken its toll, and by the start of the third his face revealed the pounding he had taken. Busquet himself was clearly marked after the fight, his nose and head cut open from Alvarado’s defensive blows in the ground fight, his legs reddened by the kicks – too few unfortunately – which the Mexican had used in an attempt to fend him off.

This was, despite some of the trolling by armchair experts, a very decent fight – although I personally feel it ought to have been stopped halfway through the 3rd when it was clear that Alvarado would be unable to shift Busquet’s huge bulk on the ground.

Anyone who has fought a much-heavier opponent (I have – it wasn’t nice or fun!) knows that if he has been able to power his way through your technical skills on the ground, you are done for. There is only pain and injury ahead.

A jiu jitsu expert friend of mine (and fellow chess master – we are not all bearded intellectuals!) reckoned Alvarado failed on the ground for a combination of reasons, citing the first triangle attempt as being “not really locked up and Busquet was able to shove it aside fairly easily.”

Perhaps if the JC was really on the ball,” he told me, “he could have done more to control his opponent's posture - but I'm not sure if he ever really had his legs locked up tightly enough to begin with - especially considering they both would have been sweaty, making it easier to slip out. There are a few ways to try and secure it, such as raising the hips up off the ground, and reaching with the left hand to grab the right ankle. However, it's not clear from the video if Alvarado didn't know these things, or if he simply didn't get a chance to do them because Busquet just escaped too fast.”

Although it’s unlikely that this will kick off a serious MMA career for the 36-year old Busquet, stranger things have happened (Kimbo Slice anyone?)

Alvarado, though a brave fighter, is perhaps better-suited to the felt where taking out big opponents is much easier for a man of his poker talents!

It's not the first time an event like this has taken place. Two poker players who engaged in a kickboxing match in 2011 were Bertrand 'Elky' Grospellier and Lex 'Raszi' Veldhuis:

So, who will be next to take up a poker-MMA challenge? I could easily imagine Dan Bilzerian and Olivier Busquet sharing a ring, cage, or octagon – it would be harder for Busquet to ‘out-gun’ him if nothing else.

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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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