If you haven't heard or seen much from UFC lightweight Eddie Alvarez recently, that's not by accident. Since his unanimous decision loss to Donald Cerrone at UFC 178 in September, Alvarez hasn't talked to the media. He hasn't even been active on social media.
"I've kinda been a recluse lately," Alvarez confessed on Monday's The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. "I've just been keeping away from Twitter. I apologize to my fans. I apologize to everyone. I haven't talked much or did anything, but I needed a little bit of time after the fight. That's all."
The reasons for Alvarez's absence aren't complicated. He's been upset and mad at himself. He believes he could've performed better and should have.
"I put a lot into this. I put a lot of sacrifice into it," Alvarez said of his camp and career. "I moved my family from Philadelphia to Florida. I put a lot of people through a lot of sacrifices. For me to go out there and be anything but perfect, I get angry if I'm not. I made a couple of mistake during the fight. I wasn't able to compete the way I wanted to compete. I came up short. It definitely wasn't the night and it wasn't the stage to do it on. I was angry. I'm still angry. I'll get it figured out. There's a couple of small adjustments that need to be made. I'll make them adjustments and I'll win my next one, for sure."
If there's a tinge of optimism, it's because Alvarez didn't think his performance against Cerrone was an all-out disaster. Lots of what was supposed to happen didn't and there's quite a bit to improve upon, but with perspective, the former Bellator lightweight champion can see the good and the bad well enough to carve a path forward.
"I think I fought the first round well. Let me just say Cerrone did a good job of figuring some things out and sticking to his game plan. He did a better job than I did of executing that night. That's what I'm most mad about. Usually I'm the one who's able to execute. I'm the one who's able to go out there and enforce my plan and he did a better job than I did. My hat's off to him. He did a good job, real good job," he said.
Naturally, questions arise as to why matters played out the way they did. Alvarez is the first to shrug off notions of ring rust or Octagon jitters. In fact, he said, it's the exact opposite. He wasn't excited enough.
"Pressure's not something I deal with anymore in my career. It's not an issue for me. If anything, I need to get myself a little more excited, get myself pumped up, slap myself a little bit, and get myself in the fight. Sometimes I need to take a punch or two just to get myself excited and let myself know that I'm in the fight.
"It wasn't anything that the fans are going to say on Twitter," he continued. "Oh, maybe I looked past him or maybe I had the jitters. It really wasn't. It was a matter of, I went out there and I didn't execute and he did. He did a good job doing it. Some nights are yours and some nights aren't. It's that simple. I don't think we need to make it any more complicated than that."
Alvarez said he wasn't miserable. "I definitely enjoyed the show. I enjoyed being there," he said of the experience. As he described it, the problem was he "never really got comfortable."
"I've been in fights where I got comfortable and I've gotten in this creative flow where I can do things and I can just be present and enjoy the fight that I'm in," he contended. "I never really got comfortable in that fight where I felt that way. I just felt a little chaotic. I didn't like the way it felt. Maybe I just needed to get that fight out of the way, I need to lose and I needed to get myself comfortable being in that Octagon."
The UFC newcomer suggested Cerrone didn't do anything he and his coaches hadn't seen in tapes, so it wasn't a matter of surprise. He also acknowledged the devastating leg kicks Cerrone landed "sort of disabled" him. Once that happened, he pushed forward by "telling myself, 'Just one shot. Land one good shot and this guy will go out.'"
Alvarez is damaged, but undeterred. He'll also get his chance for redemption at UFC Fight Night 59 on January 19th when he faces former UFC lightweight champion, another fighter trying to redeem himself after a loss.
This next time, Alvarez said, things will be different. Inactivity won't be a disadvantage he'll have to overcome.
"I think I can beat any guy given 6 to 8 weeks. I think that maybe if I was just able to fight a little before, just to catch up with [Cerrone]. He was so active and he'd been in the gym so long, had so many fights and I only had one. I think if just able to catch up a little bit and get a fight or two, I think I could go out and do better than what I did," Alvarez noted.
"Before the Chandler fight, I knew I was off for a year, so what I did was I put myself in the cage and I made sure that I got real fights in. Five, five-minute rounds of real fights with my training partners. Maybe I was a little bit hesitant of doing real fights in the gym because of the concussion that I suffered."
Those symptoms are over, Alvarez said. But the hesitancy to go full bore weren't. Either way, Alvarez isn't laboring over the details. He takes some cold comfort in his awareness of what went wrong and why.
"Whatever. I can go back and hindsights 20/20. I can say, 'Ah, I should've done this, I should've done that'. The fact is that Donald executed," he said. "I didn't. I rarely make mistakes twice. I'll make sure it doesn't happen again."
With sights fully focused on Henderson, Alvarez said his confidence is renewed. "I feel like I can do well against a guy like that," he contended. More importantly, his original UFC objective is still firmly intact. He hasn't let go of the dream. He just needs another chance to get the process started.
"I still want the best guys in this division. My mind hasn't changed one bit. Whoever the best guys are in this division, I want them in front of me. That's really just how I feel."
In fact, Alvarez said it's all cyclical, really. He faces a setback almost on a regular calendar. From there, though, it has historically been smooth sailing. Losing isn't the preferred option, but if it's all part of the process, that he knows he'll get there eventually.
"I'm OK with losing, man," Alvarez argued. "I lose like every three years or so. Every three years I take a loss and then I go on a tear for the next three years. I understand you can't win all the time. Sometimes it's important to see the other side so you take winning for granted."