Eddie Alvarez (pictured) is less than one month removed from capturing the UFC lightweight crown, but there’s been no shortage of challengers requesting to be his first title defense.
Alvarez, a 13-year MMA veteran, is taking a businesslike approach to being the UFC’s new 155-pound king. He’s worked his entire career to get to this point, and he doesn’t just want to gift a random contender a crack at his hardware.
Alvarez knows now is the time to reap the financial benefits of sitting atop the throne and he wants to cash-in on the winner of UFC 202‘s rematch between UFC golden child Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz.
“I’ve got my eye on Nate Diaz-Conor (McGregor),” Alvarez told TMZ Sports. “I would love to the fight the winner of that whole crew.
“I keep getting asked by all the media, you fight all the best guys in the world and at the end of the day the media asks, ‘What about Conor McGregor?’ So I’m sick of being asked about his name. Him or Nate. I have some history with Nate, too. Either one of them.”
McGregor and Diaz meet August 20 in a welterweight affair, but McGregr is the UFC featherweight champ and Diaz has called lightweight home for the past five years after a brief stint at welterweight.
McGregor was slated to challenge then-lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos, the man Alvarez dominated in July to win the belt, at UFC 196 in an attempt to become the UFC’s first two-way title holder, but Dos Anjos was forced to pull out at the 11th hour with a foot injury. Dos Anjos’ withdrawal turned out to be McGregor’s worst nightmare because he was subsequently submitted by Diaz despite accepting the welterweight scrap on only 11 days’ notice.
It would be easy for the UFC to sell a victorious McGregor as Alvarez’s first title defense, despite the fact he has yet to compete in the division. “Notorious” was previously granted the shot, and let’s be honest, it’s not hard to sell McGregor at anything seeing as how he’s arguably the UFC’s biggest superstar.
Diaz currently sits at #4 on the UFC lightweight rankings, so he would be leapfrogging over Khabib Nurmagomedov, Dos Anjos and Tony Ferguson in order to challenge Alvarez. There’s no denying Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have each done more than enough to warrant next dibs at the gold, but Diaz’s stock would be white hot if he posts back-to-back wins over McGregor, even if both wins came at welterweight.
McGregor and Diaz are the money fights for Alvarez, so that’s what he wants. Sorry, Khabib and Tony. The UFC wants to push McGregor back down to featherweight after this month’s bout for a title unification fight with interim champ Jose Aldo, so if Alvarez wants to score a hefty payday in his first title defense, a victorious Diaz might be his best option.
Either way, Alvarez knows McGregor and Diaz would jump at the opportunity to go after his jewelry – but it would strictly be a look, but don’t touch situation.
“I’m sure either one of them want the lightweight title,” Alvarez said. “They ain’t going to get it, but they can challenge for it.”
All eyes will be on UFC 202, including Alvarez’s.