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Eddie Alvarez talks ‘freedom of having your worst nightmare come true’ with Conor McGregor loss

Former UFC lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez is gearing up for his first fight since getting knocked out by Conor McGregor back at UFC 205 in November and talking about the struggles of returning from such a huge letdown.

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MMA: UFC 205-McGregor vs Alvarez Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Not all losses are created equal, you can ask Jose Aldo about that one. And, as it turns out, you can ask Eddie Alvarez too. After all, it’s not as though the ‘Underground King’ has never lost before. His career has been dotted with the, admittedly infrequent, short end of the stick.

It’s not even the first time Alvarez has lost a title belt. He lost his BodogFIGHT welterweight championship to Nick Thompson back in 2007, a bid for the WAMMA lightweight championship to Shinya Aoki back in 2008, and the Bellator lightweight title to Michael Chandler in 2011.

Even his UFC career started out on the wrong foot: a unanimous decision loss to Donald Cerrone at UFC 178. But, a couple of contentious split decisions and a huge TKO later, and Alvarez had the most prestigious title of his career around his waist, a UFC championship. His title reign lasted all of four months.

Conor McGregor separated Alvarez from his belt and his senses at UFC 205. It was a thoroughly one-sided beating, on the biggest stage of Alvarez’s career, with the most he had to lose. And coming back, as he revealed in a recent interview for the Luke Thomas Show, hasn’t been easy (transcript via MMA Fighting).

“Climbing back from the Nov. 5th fight was difficult. I’d be lying if I told you, ‘Oh I just bounced right back off the mat.’ I needed some serious dusting off. I needed to forgive myself. I’m my own worst critic so I was very disappointed and pissed off at myself about Madison Square Garden. . .

“I sat around longer than what I would’ve like to. I would’ve like to just bounce back and just get over it already but it was difficult. It was difficult for me. I put a lot into this so it was difficult but we’re over it and I’m having a great time with training and enjoying myself.”
“I think there’s a freedom in having your worst nightmare come true. As a fighter, your worst nightmare is to get knocked out in front of millions of people. That’s like the dream of waking up naked in your classroom. So getting that out of the way, there’s a freedom in it for me. I never thought it would happen. I never pictured it or visualized it ever happening to me and it happened. I realize after it happened, nothing changed. Nothing changed. My family’s still here, my friends are still here. I’m still the same person. Everybody just wants me to fight again and do well again. Nothing really changed. So there’s a freedom in it and if you haven’t experienced it then you won’t be able to feel the freedom that I have right now.”

Hopefully for Eddie, that newfound sense of freedom will help carry him to victory over Dustin Poirier at UFC 211, this Saturday, May 13th. Alvarez vs. Poirier is currently set to headline the FX prelim card before the event switches to PPV. The PPV portion will be headlined by a pair of title fights as Stipe Miocic puts his heavyweight title on the line against Junior dos Santos, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk puts her strawweight belt on the line against Jessica Andrade.