On December 2nd at UFC 218 in Detroit, Michigan, former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez will square off with ex-WSOF lightweight king Justin Gaethje, in a fight that has potential to be an all-time classic, even by the lofty standards held by the previous respective bouts of Alvarez and Gaethje.
As fans eagerly await this showdown between the two most entertaining cage fighters in the sport today, Alvarez told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour that he believes that him and Gaethje are the real headliners of the evening. (Via MMA Fighting)
“For me, this is the main event. For me, there is extra leverage going into this fight because I’ve beaten every single champion from almost every organization you can think of. From Shinya Aoki from Strikeforce to (Gilbert) Melendez to Pettis from UFC, then to Bellator, the list goes on and on,” he explained.
“This guy Justin Gaethje…one of the major organizations from not that long ago was World Series of Fighting. He held the belt, he was the captain of that organization and he flew that flag.
“For me, it’s another champion under my belt beaten and I’ve made a career out of doing that. I can’t fight for the UFC belt at the minute. I’m realistic and I’m not getting that shot just yet, so this is the next best thing.”
Alvarez (28-5, 1 NC) is coming off a no-contest vs. Dustin Poirier at UFC 211, a fight in which he was in the middle of a dramatic rally after nearly being knocked out, only for the contest to come to an unsatisfying end due to illegal knees to Poirier’s head while he was a downed opponent.
Gaethje (18-0) has won via stoppage in all but two of his pro bouts, and his spectacular Octagon debut saw him TKO Michael Johnson in the presumptive frontrunner for 2017’s Fight of the Year. On multiple occasions, Johnson had Gaethje on wobbly legs, but in typical Gaethje fashion, he dug deep, fought back, and became the first man to finish Johnson via strikes.
The 33-year-old Alvarez expects to face Gaethje’s ultra-aggressive, high-volume style of striking (and it doesn’t look like Gaethje is going to do anything different), but beyond that, the only other thing he guarantees out of Saturday night is that we will see an incredible scrap.
“I’m not expecting a different guy. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. His team knows that and his style has gotten him so far,” he said.
“I’m gonna be honest, I don’t f**kin’ know, I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know what’s going to happen…I don’t know and I’m not going to lie to the fans.
“I will say this, it’s going to be f**kin’ nuts because I spent a great deal of this training camp working not giving a f**k myself and I’m getting better and better the less I care.
“I don’t have a crystal ball but I can tell fans right now, they better have their popcorn and their soda ready for this fight because it’s going to be something special to watch.”
UFC 218’s actual main event is a featherweight championship rematch between Max Holloway and Jose Aldo. Alvarez vs. Gaethje is second on the main card lineup, right after Tecia Torres vs. Michelle Waterson.
Video of Alvarez’s interview with Helwani can be seen at the top of the page.