Former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez won the belt the old-fashioned way, picking off the top five as he closed in on and ultimately knocked out then-champion Rafael Dos Anjos.
According to “The Underground King,” newly-crowned lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov won the gold under very different circumstances.
Alvarez recently gave his thoughts on Nurmagomedov’s title-winning victory over No. 11-ranked Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 and was rather critical of Nurmagomedov’s championship win, Not surprisingly, he thinks he’s the man to beat Khabib:
“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.”
“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.”
Nurmagomedov remains undefeated with an unreal 25-0 record. The Dagestani thrashed a game Iaquinta over five rounds, and while ‘Raging Al’ certainly had his moments, Nurmagomedov ultimately won the lightweight belt after many attempts by the UFC to get him in a title fight.
Nurmagomedov has been scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson four times now, with Ferguson pulling out just days before UFC 223.
Meanwhile, Alvarez got back on track with a knockout over Justin Gaethje in December. Prior to that, illegal knees turned an otherwise thrilling fight with Dustin Poirier into a no contest. Now just two fights and one victory removed from losing his belt to Conor McGregor at UFC 205, Alvarez wants to be the first man to beat Nurmagomedov.
Does Alvarez have what it takes to beat the undefeated Nurmagomedov?