Eddie Alvarez is one of the most exhilarating fighters in the UFC, and a former lightweight champion. Winning the 155-pound crown by defeating Rafael dos Anjos, he set himself apart as one of the most talented men in his weight class.
He’s also one of the most consistent and one of the most exciting. He’s essentially the type of brawler fans love – but with crisp technique and a tendency to stay on the Octagon more than he stays on the sidelines. In any other weight class, he’d be an obvious choice for a title contender. But lightweight has always been one of the most stacked classes in all of MMA.
It’s only natural – the average American male weighs around 190 pounds. Therefore, athletes with good eating habits could be expected to be around 180, and thus it would be feasible for most to cut down to 155 pounds with good weight-cutting experts on their side.
The UFC’s lightweight division is a shark tank. The current champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, is 26-0 and has mauled his last two opponents. Conor McGregor, the former champion, is one of the biggest stars in the sport and has knockout power in both hands. Tony Ferguson, the interim champion, hasn’t lost a fight in years.
It’s obvious that there’s a long line of contenders gunning for a title shot, and if the rumors are true, it could be McGregor getting the next shot. And despite the fact that Alvarez would otherwise likely earn a shot should he defeat Dustin Poirier in their rematch, he says he doesn’t have a problem with the idea of being leapfrogged in pursuit of the belt.
Alvarez said: “That is the world we live in today, folks. We are all fools if we think otherwise.” He cited the return of Brock Lesnar to heavyweight title contention after a lengthy absence following a doping violation as evidence that the promotion controls who gets the next shot – not the fighters, fans, or rankings.
Alvarez said he knew that money fights were what counted, and that he was only focused on beating the person in front of him. Money fights are what McGregor is about – he’s known for his high earnings and high marketability. He’s also the last man to defeat Alvarez, taking the lightweight belt in the process. For that reason, McGregor’s return to title contention immediately is somewhat warranted, despite him being 2-2 in his last four fights and coming off a year-plus of inactivity.
Alvarez also said he was happy McGregor didn’t face jail time following his UFC 223 Media Day outburst. He said it would’ve been a crime to lock him up during his prime, and that McGregor being a free man was good for the sport.
He may be right, but it’s also another layer of complexity for the division. If McGregor returns soon, the title match makes sense for him. But with a victory over Poirier, Alvarez will likely be ready for a shot as well.