For a guy ranked as the #3 fighter in the UFC’s stacked lightweight division, Eddie Alvarez has been having a hard time getting respect lately. Maybe it was the quick and decisive loss to Conor McGregor, or that questionable no contest against Dustin Poirier. Even his win over Justin Gaethje left him a lumpy bruised mess.
If he’s going to reclaim his rightful reputation as one of the baddest men in the UFC, he’s going to have to convince people. And with fights only coming once every four months or so, he’s started talking more in between. He was at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night in Atlantic City, and he had some serious smack talk ready regarding current lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“I know, 100 percent, matchup-wise, wrestling, stylistically, I watch the champion fight a lot. I am the guy to beat the champion. Not Dustin Poirier. Not Conor McGregor. Not anyone. I understand who I lost to, who I won (against). I’m the best style matchup. The champion don’t want to fight me right now. He knows. He’s going to pick off the wounded gazelles one by one. He’s going to take the good style matchups. I understand. Take them. I’ll be waiting in the end.”
“What’s funny about this whole thing is, Khabib wasn’t a champion,” Alvarez said. “Now he’s the champion after beating no. 11. Let’s just get that out in the open. He says, ‘paper champion, who’s fake champion, who’s real champion?’ You beat no. 11, and now you’re champion. So think on that. Pray on that during Ramadan. No. 11, and now you’re champion.
“When I fought for the title, I literally fought no. 5, 4, 3, 2, then 1,” Alvarez continued. “I fought a champion, a guy who was a champion, who had a belt. That’s a real champion. I’ll continue to fight the best, and I’ll wait my turn. I’ll let the UFC do their job, pick who’s next in line, and I’ll be waiting there for all of them.”
It’s exciting to hear Eddie talking like this. A lot of times UFC fighters seem to talk down potential opponents as a way to justify not fighting them. But it sounds like Alvarez (like Nurmagomedov) has decided to leave the picking of opponents to the UFC’s matchmakers. He’ll just show up and fight like hell and let the results dictate whether he gets his shot at the belt again.