At one time, Eddie Alvarez was considered one of the top lightweights in the world. He has lost some of that luster when he lost in a Fight of the Year caliber performance to Michael Chandler last November. Nevertheless, we've always wondered just how well Alvarez would do against the lightweights that prowl a stacked 155 division in the UFC.
Now we may just have the opportunity to see how it will play out.
Before the Chandler submission loss, Alvarez was thought to be able to compete amongst the elite in the division. But in the year that has passed since the loss, the lightweight division in the UFC has become one of the deepest in all of MMA. So where would Alvarez match up?
It's an interesting question depending on how you look at it.
For one, outsiders who finally make their way into the UFC often end up finding out that these sharks have a lot more bite. Ask Hector Lombard how his UFC debut went despite being a savage with a ridiculous unbeaten streak before playing where the big boys play.
If you look at Alvarez' resume, it will be difficult to say that he belongs "in the mix" the moment he steps into the Octagon. The loss to Chandler may be the most damaging to his stature. Even without the loss, Alvarez' biggest "names" are Shinya Aoki (whose Japanese submission fighting just doesn't translate well outside of his home country), Roger Huerta and Tatsuya Kawajiri. Throwing him in with the likes of Pettis, Cerrone and Diaz could be extremely rough for a first outing.
He certainly has the tools to be a competitor in the 155 division. Great boxing, strong wresting and being part of the Blackzilians enhances his profile. But if he decides to sign with the UFC (and let's face it, he needs to), who should he take on first?
Clay Guida looks like a good opponent. Their cardio and wrestling should help put on a show, as long as Guida doesn't fight like he did against Gray Maynard. Jim Miller and Matt Wiman could also be entertaining ways to debut Alvarez without throwing him to the sharks at the top of the division too early.
The bottom line is that he has to earn his keep in the UFC. No gift fights and no fights that will put him one fight away from the title. If there is one thing that we have learned, it's that your past before entering the UFC means absolutely nothing. This is a "what have you done for me lately" (word to Janet Jackson) promotion where your history of being great in another promotion gets you in the door but doesn't grant you any special path to a title.
So, how well would Eddie Alvarez do according to me? He's be a solid lightweight but not quite ready to compete with the Benson Hendersons, Donald Cerrones and Anthony Pettis of the UFC. It would be nice to see him in the UFC though after all of these years.
How do you think he would do?