Eddie Alvarez is looking to call the shots now that he's UFC champion. The Philadelphia local, who knocked out Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 90 to capture the lightweight belt, says he'd rather fight the winner of Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor than defend the title against No. 1 contender Khabib Nurmagomedov.
According to Alvarez, he almost got into a fight with Diaz in Mexico City, so he'd be more than happy to settle the score with the Californian if he beats McGregor at UFC 202. But, if 'The Notorious' wins, he's happy to cash in the biggest pay cheque of his career.
"Initially, I want the winner of Conor-Nate," Alvarez told Sirius XM's Luis Gomez and Dave Smith on Thursday (h/t Jed Meshew of MMA Fighting). "I would like a big pay-per-view, big money fight. I'm willing to wait for one of them guys. I almost got in a fight with Nate in Mexico City so maybe we can settle our differences, and if Conor happens to win I welcome that fight as well."
Money isn't the only factor for Alvarez, who is the first ever Bellator and UFC champion. The 32-year-old doesn't want to fight someone he doesn't consider a true #1 contender.
"The number one contender in my weight class has fought once in about the last three years or something. So I'm a little nervous about fighting a guy like that who barely shows up to fight. So Conor and Nate, they're the guys on my radar, one of them I'd really like to get my hands on."
"Rankings are subjective anyway. For someone to say, ‘This guy's number one,' who claims him to be number one and why is he number one? That's a question we've got to ask ourselves. It's subjective. So to say, ‘The guy is number one, he should get the title shot,' it's not necessarily so."
Although he faced a two-year absence from the sport due to injury, Nurmagomedov maintained his position as a top contender despite Tony Ferguson's active win streak from 2014-2016. 'The Eagle' did return at UFC on FOX 19, TKO'ing UFC newcomer Darrel Horcher in the second round.
According to Alvarez, though, Nurmagomedov's recent efforts aren't enough to earn him a title shot.
"Look at the case between Tony Ferguson and Khabib. Tony Ferguson is 8-0, he's been active for the last God-knows-how-what, he's been finishing opponents, been on a tear; Khabib's fought once in three years and he's number one and he decides he wants a title shot? The last guy he beat was virtually un-ranked - maybe top 100 in the world - and he's the number one guy in the world. So who says that? Who makes that up? Who appoints him number one? That being said, make the fights that make sense. Make the fights the fans want to see. Who gives a shit about the rankings?"
Returning back to the topic of Diaz vs. McGregor, Alvarez made it clear who he thinks will win on Aug 20.
"I think Nate wins the same exact way he won the first time," Alvarez said.
The rematch between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor will headline the UFC 202 pay-per-view on August 20 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.