Former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez is among those bewildered by the current situation surrounding the 155-pound title. Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov are expected to be competing for the legitimate belt at UFC 223, however the company have yet to strip the man currently holding it, Conor McGregor.
Considering the history with Ferguson vs Nurmagomedov, a matchup that has been scheduled in each of the last three years, only to fall apart each time, Alvarez has a theory about what the promotion is actually hoping to achieve with UFC 223.
“What’s going on is, this fight is 0 for 3. They’re not going to strip Conor of the belt, then have a vacant title for a fight that’s 0 for 3.” Alvarez said this week on The MMA Hour. “They have not been able to make this fight. Either Khabib gets hurt or Tony gets hurt. So I think what the UFC’s thinking is, this is a theory, it’s just an opinion on my part, this fight is not going to happen.”
“There’s a very unlikely chance that it’s going to happen, so they’re not going to strip the champion and then have the fight fall through and not have a champion. So, I think on the day of the weigh-ins, they’re going to strip Conor. It’s going to make real big news, and they’re going to have a title fight and it’s also going to make big news. So it’s going to make for a lot of publicity in one day, that’s my theory.”
Alvarez, 34, is the highest-ranked UFC lightweight behind the three men in question. He still currently has no match-up in place following his 3rd round stoppage victory over Justin Gaethje. With this in mind, “The Underground King” knows he could be in a prime position if indeed the fight between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov was to fall through yet again. And for that reason he’s staying ready in case the UFC need a last-minute call-up to help save UFC 223.
“I’m probably still going to end up fighting one of those guys” Alvarez said. “That fight is probably going to get scrapped. They’re 0 for 3 there, so somebody might get scrapped, I’ll be ready for that.”
Regardless of how UFC 223 plays out, Alvarez’s next fight is going to be a big one as it is the last one on his current UFC deal.
The Philadelphia native is currently campaigning for a summer showdown with Nate Diaz. Although, even if that match-up fails to come to fruition, Alvarez is hoping to end his contract with a bang, and expects to remain a part of the company afterwards.
“They want to keep me on.” Alvarez said. “We haven’t gotten to that agreement yet, but I’m sure we will. I have a good rapport with everybody there, and we’re definitely going to sit down and come to an agreement, but for me it’s really about what this next fight is, who it’s going to be, whether it’s Tony or Khabib, whether one of those guys drop out and I step right in, or whether Nate wants to do something in the meantime, or whatever, or whether I’m just helping Frankie (Edgar) get ready for Max (Holloway).”
“I’m sitting here idle, and May or June just sounds like a damn good date to me.”
Alvarez joined the UFC in 2014 as a two-time Bellator champion and was one of the most decorated lightweights of all-time to have never competed inside the Octagon. Since then, he has racked up a 4-2 record with one no-contest while fighting the best the division has to offer. His three-fight win streak over Gilbert Melendez, Anthony Pettis and Rafael dos Anjos helped him capture UFC lightweight title. And now, with just one fight remaining on his contract, Alvarez isn’t at all worried about what his future may hold.
“To be honest, I don’t care” Alvarez said. “Free agency is great. In this sport, to be one of the top guys in the world, champion everywhere, and become a free agent, that’s an amazing thing. I’m sure there will be offers everywhere, but I have a good rapport with the UFC as well, and I’m sure they’ll step up and do the right thing and pay. But I don’t care either way. I just want some big fights, some fights that fans are going to get excited about. Get some people in front of me that are going to force me to fight in a way that gets everyone excited. I’m having a good time either way.”