ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Eddie Alvarez showed up backstage at UFC Fight Night 128 on Saturday night with the division that he calls home in a state of upheaval and confusion.
“A lot of guys hurt, a lot of guys out, in prison, praying, injured, I don’t know what’s going on,” Alvarez told MMAjunkie. “But I’m enjoying myself. I’ve been fighting three, four times a year since I was 19. I don’t mind a little bit of time off.”
For a former UFC lightweight champion like Alvarez, who finds himself near the top of the division, it’s tough to know where things are headed, or who he might get to fight next.
For that reason, Alvarez said, he doesn’t trouble himself too much about asking for a title shot – even if he does regard himself as an ideal candidate to beat current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.
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“I seriously have no control over who gets the shot, so I don’t really focus on it,” Alvarez said. “If they want to give Dustin (Poirier) a title shot, hell, give him a title shot. Do I think he’ll do well? Probably not. But it’s not up to me. Give him a shot, let him do what he wants to do, and that’ll be that.
“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.”
In case you can’t tell, Alvarez doesn’t think too much of Nurmagomedov’s status as champion. The way he won the belt, with a unanimous-decision victory over late replacement Al Iaquinta at UFC 223, seems to have failed to impress an MMA veteran like Alvarez.
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“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.”
Which is not to say Alvarez is holding out for a title shot. He mentioned Nate Diaz as an opponent he’d be willing to consider, mostly because, as Alvarez put it, “I just want his name.” Failing that, he’d like some name that’s interesting, that provokes an emotional reaction. And until he hears that in discussions with the UFC, he’s willing to wait.
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“And I’m sure in the next couple weeks, we’re going to figure out another name that I can get excited about,” Alvarez said.
But when he hears former opponents like Poirier claiming that he’s running from a rematch, that’s when Alvarez gets a little annoyed.
“Fans need to understand. They say, ‘Hey, you ducked a fight.’ Look at my (expletive) resume, bro. Compared to every lightweight in this division, go look at who I fought,” Alvarez said. “If you ever tell me I ducked someone, you don’t know (expletive) about fighting. You know nothing. Because there’s not a single guy in the lightweight division who has fought back to back to back champions, the baddest (expletives) in this sport ever.
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“And if I’m mistaken, give me the resume. I want to see it. But I’m not the guy. I don’t duck anyone. I will take a better opportunity for myself. If you’re not the guy and you’re not as good an opportunity as what I have available, then yeah, I’ll (expletive) duck you, and I’ll duck you, and I’ll take the opportunity that’s better than you. I’ve been guilty of that. But I’ve never ducked anyone.”
As for how a fight between himself and Nurmagomedov would play out, Alvarez suggested that maybe we’ve already seen it before, courtesy of the “Rocky” film franchise.
“I feel like the story is much the same as one we’ve heard before,” Alvarez said. “A guy from Philadelphia fights an undefeated (expletive) Russian that everybody thinks is indestructible. And you know what, we can do it just like that.
“If he dies, he dies.”
For complete covearge of UFC Fight Night 128, check out the UFC Events section of the site.
Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Al Iaquinta at UFC 223: Best photos
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