With last month’s opening-round, knockout-victory over Rafael dos Anjos, seasoned MMA veteran Eddie Alvarez beat the odds to become the UFC’s new lightweight king and the latest unofficial member of the promotion’s growing group of late-blooming champions.
Alvarez has waited a very long time to get to the top—and he’s definitely paid his dues along the way. But the proud Philly native isn’t interested in divisional dominance now that he has a crown to defend. Instead, he’s chosen to chase a life-changing payday in his first appearance as the no.1 lightweight in the world, and Alvarez has his eye on one of the only opponents who can actually guarantee the kind of money that he’s talking about.
Immediately following July’s career-altering win, Alvarez fired a few shots at the walking bank machine better known as featherweight champ Conor McGregor in an attempt to lure the Irishman into a highly-paid headliner.
”So I would ask Dana White please to give me an easier fight like Conor McGregor,” said Alvarez via Fox Sports. ”I deserve that. I’ve been fighting the best guys so I would like a gimme fight. Conor, I more than welcome that.”
— Norphans (@Norphans) August 10, 2016
While former undisputed featherweight ruler Jose Aldo has used his resume, and more specifically, last month’s win over Frankie Edgar, to get McGregor back in the cage, and Nate Diaz is about to benefit from the Irishman’s obsession with revenge, Alvarez seems to think that he can talk his way into a clash with the king of big-money bouts by pretending that a meeting with McGregor would be some sort of Octagon vacation.
Although Alvarez didn’t refer to a matchup with McGregor as a ”gimme fight” during last week’s interview with CSN Philadelphia, he did lay out his ideal plans for the fall–and they weren’t limited to the featherweight champion.
”I got my sights set on Madison Square Garden—they’re having something on the east coast,” said Alvarez. ”I believe it’s going to be in November. So looking at something like that. And I know Nate Diaz is fighting Conor McGregor, I would like to try to get the winner of that fight. Hopefully someone comes out on top there and they’ll sign their name on the dotted line.”
Becoming a champion in the sport’s leading promotion can be extremely lucrative for some. But there’s no guarantees, and often, the champion chasing the big paycheck believes that they’re suddenly far more popular than they actually are.
Does Alvarez fall into that unfortunate category? At the moment, the answer would have to be yes. But Dana White and the UFC don’t usually grant a champion’s demands until he or she has defended their title a few times. Just ask new welterweight king Tyron Woodley.
Despite demanding an Octagon payday of his own with a bout versus either Nick Diaz or Georges St. Pierre just minutes after ending Robbie Lawler’s reign, Woodley was very recently notified that he’ll be facing Stephen ”Wonderboy” Thompson in his first title defense—the one fighter he’s been trying to avoid.
— AtTheBuzzer (@TheBuzzerOnFOX) August 11, 2016
On the other hand, we wouldn’t be in the midst of a UFC money-grab if it weren’t for McGregor. The Irishman may have stuck to his division’s hierarchy while working his way to Aldo, but his fellow UFC fighters saw every cent that he earned along the way—especially against Diaz. And understandably, they want to get paid.
A few years ago, any UFC champion who chose to chase the money instead of fulfilling what were seen as his or her divisional obligations would’ve earned nothing but ridicule. Rumors of so-called ”super-fights” were heard from time to time, but we expected a newly-crowned UFC champion to begin preparing for the division’s top contender the minute they left the post-fight press conference.
However, while the recent cash-fueled requests made by Alvarez and Woodley are perfect examples of the influence that McGregor has had on his fellow UFC’ers, as well as the sport itself, the proud Irishman and his nemesis are the only fighters who’ve actually banked the benefits of that influence. And until others do the same, every demand for a big-money bout will be answered by an unpleasant wake-up call.