Just like most American football players dream to get to the NFL, and basketball stars to the NBA, it’s safe to say that a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter has his or her sights set on Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as the end game.
But just because a fighter makes it to the Octagon, doesn’t mean he or she is above the rest. Though UFC boasts the most impressive roster of MMA fighters on the planet, Eddie Alvarez says several of the best fighters right now don’t fight for the Endeavor-owned promotion.
“That whole theory is crap that everybody who’s the best is a UFC guy,” Alvarez said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “It’s complete crap because I was the guy who didn’t fight in the UFC. I went there and won the belt. I beat arguably the best lightweight in that history. [Rafael dos Anjos] at the time was killing everyone. Like literally murdering the who’s who. So to go to UFC, win the belt and be a guy from the outside that never fought there, I’m the guy you’re talking about.”
Indeed, Alvarez was already considered one of the best 155-pound fighters on the planet before he eventually made his way to the Octagon in 2014 after winning titles in several promotions before that, including Bellator MMA.
And even though he lost his Octagon debut to Donald Cerrone, Alvarez went on to claim the Lightweight title four fights later by taking out dos Anjos via knockout. He eventually lost the strap in his next fight to Conor McGregor.
“I wasn’t a UFC fighter per se, but I went there and I won the world title. If I could do it, isn’t it true that anybody from the outside could possibly go there and win the title? It’s not arguable. It’s fact. The best fighters in the world, they’re all over and they’re virtually unknown.”
Furthermore, Alvarez says when comparing the striking skills of fighters under UFC contract when compared to those of ONE Championship, the race isn’t close.
“As a fight fan myself, it’s clear that the level of striking is easily in the favor of ONE Championship. That can’t even be argued,” Alvarez said. “When you watch ONE Championship, and when you watch what goes on in the Muay Thai bouts and even the MMA bouts, the striking is vastly better in ONE Championship.”
Alvarez signed a massive deal with ONE Championship in late 2018 after a four-year run with UFC that saw him go 4-3-1. In his debut, Alvarez came up short against Timofey Nastyukhin, losing via technical knockout this past March. He bounced back with an impressive submission win over Eduard Folayang a few months later in the opening round of the promotion’s Lightweight Grand Prix.
Unfortunately for fight fans, UFC has never been — and never will be — in the business of cross-promotion, which is a real shame since we’ll never get to see the best of the best of each promotion fight each other.