After running through Rafael dos Anjos in the main event of UFC Fight Night 90 earlier this month (July 7, 2016), newly minted lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez is now waiting to see who will stand across the Octagon from him in his first title defense. Many have speculated that the challenger will be oft-injured longtime No. 1-ranked Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov, an undefeated Dagestani-born wrestler. Alvarez, however, doesn’t feel as if Nurmagomedov deserves the shot.
Speaking at a recent Q&A session, “The Silent Assassin” said that he fought the division’s best on his way to the top, implying that Nurmagomedov has not. “The Eagle” has only fought once over the past two years, scoring a dominant victory over unranked UFC newcomer Darrell Horcher last April. In fairness, Nurmagomedov was scheduled to face surging contender Tony Ferguson, but Ferguson was forced to withdraw with an injury.
Check out what Alvarez said below:
“Look, when I came here to the UFC I fought every top guy, everyone from top ten to who was in front of me,” Alvarez said. “I didn’t fight number thirty or number twenty-five, number forty or number fifty and then say I want a title shot. I said I want to fight that guy because he’s the best, that guy because he’s better, that guy he’s better than him and then I said I want to fight the champ.”
“That’s what I did to get my title shot and that’s what you do when you want to fight the best guys in front of you,” he said. “You don’t just rack up a great record fight thirty, forty and fifty and then say I want a title shot.”
Continuing on, the champion took a serious shot at “The Eagle”, also saying that he’d like to fight reigning featherweight champion Conor McGregor next:
“Look, I fight the best, he fights the rest. That’s how it goes. Tony [Ferguson] is calling me out, Khabib is calling me out – when you win the belt, everyone just calls you out. I got my own agenda, I’m just trying to get this fight [with McGregor].”
It’s interesting to analyze this statement as Alvarez may actually be contradicting himself given the fact that McGregor has yet to compete at lightweight in the UFC and is currently unranked in the division. It does, however, make sense why Alvarez would want a crack at the “Notorious” one and that would of course be due to the financial gains a fight with McGregor brings in.
Who would you like to see Alvarez face next?