Tuesday 17 October 2017

UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez blasts 'Irish dude' McGregor 'who can't fight for sh*t'

Tom Rooney

UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez is decidedly offended to be mentioned in the same breath as Conor McGregor, let alone being heralded as the Dubliner’s next opponent.

The last four days have proven very instructive as to what some of the relevant parties feel should be the next step in Conor McGregor’s compelling career.

After earning a majority decision win over Nate Diaz in their epic rematch at UFC 202 last weekend, McGregor looks to have some interesting options on the table.

The blood was still being mopped from the octagon canvas when Jose Aldo took to Twitter demanding that the Crumlin man face him at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden in November.

McGregor concussively usurped Aldo as the featherweight champion in just 13 seconds at UFC 194 last December, but the Brazilian recently assumed the interim crown at the expense of Frankie Edgar and is eager for a second unification bout with him.

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UFC president Dana White strongly advocates this scenario and has frequently stated that McGregor must return to the 145lbs division to take on Aldo or relinquish his title.

SBG coach John Kavanagh disagrees somewhat, recently telling Ariel Helwani that there are no enticing match-ups for this student at featherweight and, for the sake of career longevity, he should move to lightweight, where a less onerous weight cut awaits him.

Moreover, Nate Diaz also used social media to agitate for a trilogy fight with the ‘Notorious’, but that is unlikely to materialise in the short term.

Interestingly, McGregor has made no definite proclamation about his future but, at the post fight press conference for UFC 202, he informed the media that ‘the shit was about to hit the fan’.

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McGregor celebrating after his victory. Photo: Joshua Dahl/Sportsfile

Just over six weeks have elapsed since Eddie Alvarez ruthlessly and, indeed, unexpectedly unseated Rafael Dos Anjos as the lightweight champion. In a career-best performance, the veteran Philadelphian pummelled his way to a first round TKO victory.

In many respects, Alvarez is the polar opposite to McGregor, and his journey to the zenith of MMA has been a long and arduous one.

Alvarez spent over a decade fighting in a plethora of promotions around the world, winning titles wherever he competed.  

His delayed arrival to the UFC dictated that he was only familiar to the hard-core fan base, who were zealous advocates of his talents.

Alvarez’s final fight with the Bellator promotion saw him recoup the lightweight crown from Michael Chandler in November of 2013 and, even then, his move to the UFC was paved with obstacles as the companies had to legally settle his release.

His promotional bow was at UFC 178 in September 2014 - incidentally the same night McGregor defeated Dustin Poirier - but he was beaten by Donald Cerrone via unanimous decision.

Two mildly impressive but forgettable wins over Gilbert Melendez and Anthon Pettis followed before Alvarez was granted his shot at Dos Anjos, who was returning to action following the foot injury that prevented him from facing Conor McGregor at UFC 196.

Sitting pretty atop of arguably the sport’s most competitive division, Alvarez is suitably equipped in the verbal sparring realm and, earlier this month, sent a barb McGregor’s way.

"I don't know him personally, but thank God he's good at talking because he can't fight for shit," Alvarez said to CBS Sports Radio.

Speaking to Jon Anik and Kenny Florian on their podcast in the aftermath of McGregor avenging his loss to Diaz, the 32-year-old married father was equally dismissive of the Irishman. So much so, that he seemed genuinely taken aback that many fight lovers would hope to seem them face off.

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Conor McGregor lands a punch on Nate Diaz. Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

“When I beat a legit guy who I feel has taken his time in this sport and is a real fighter and then I get done with the fight and I get asked about this Irish dude it's really kind of disappointing to me where the fans and the media are because the guys I've fought were way higher calibre than this guy."

Like many of his detractors, Alvarez has little regard for McGregor’s endurance and ability to perform steadily for a full 25 minutes. Notably, last Saturday was the first time he fought beyond the third round, which proved Diaz’s purple patch.

Yet, McGregor bounced back to take the fourth and while all the judge’s gave Diaz the fifth stanza, it was far closer than initially thought.

"Honestly, the first round it all looked good but I've said it a million times, he's just not a championship fighter. Not a five, 5-minute round fighter. Never has been, never will be. Some guys can have the chops for it and some guys don't.

 I've said it from the beginning, I looked at him as a three, 5-minute round fighter and that's where he'll be, that's where he should stay. I think he's good. I think anything past 8-9 minutes it just starts to look sloppy and looks a little messy."

Should the UFC pair Alvarez and McGregor, it is likely they would allow the latter to hold on to his featherweight crown until the bout is decided.

The SBG exponent was originally matched with Dos Anjos so he could vie to become the first man in company history to concurrently reign over two divisions, so it is difficult to imagine they would deny their biggest draw the opportunity.

Lightweights such as Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov will be suitably angered by such a scenario but McGregor currently walks a higher path to the rank and file.

Alvarez is just waiting for a call from his employers to be told what to expect on the horizon.

"I'm waiting on the UFC. Whoever the UFC wants. I was looking forward to watching that fight this weekend with these two guys and we'll see. I don't know what's gonna happen. I'm waiting to hear from the powers that be. I'll fight whoever they want next. That's who's next."

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