Alvarez entered the title fight against dos Anjos as an underdog, and left as the new UFC lightweight champion. Facing arguably the toughest test of his career, the 32-year-old fighter put on one of the best performances he's ever had, stopping dos Anjos in the first round. Alvarez attributes that "phenomenal" performance to something few fighters ever mention: fear.
"When I look back on my career and I told people going into this fight, whenever I get a guy that everyone is high up about, that he's really dangerous, that he's killing opponents, I usually knock those guys out," Alvarez said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "It has nothing to do with me being good or me having a certain technique, I get scared. I literary get afraid to the point where my body reacts in ways that it just makes for phenomenal performances.
"So in the past, I always wanted guys that are super dangerous because my body responds in ways that surprise myself. And I've always done that especially against southpaws. Every southpaw I ever fought mostly, I think were my most vicious knockouts of my career, so dos Anjos was that guy. That's why I said he probably shouldn't be real violent with me the way he was with Pettis and these other guys because I respond differently when people attack me like that, and I think it's because I'm a little afraid to be honest with you."
Alvarez doesn't consider fear as a sign of weakness. Instead, he embraces it, and uses fear to become a much more dangerous fighter inside the cage.
"People say in this sport and look at it as a sign of weakness like, ‘oh, fighters shouldn't be afraid', but I have a line that says, ‘be afraid, be very afraid,' because that fear throughout my whole career has gotten me my most vicious knockouts I've ever had," Alvarez said. "When I had them nerves, and I turned them into 'I'm okay with being afraid.' I can embrace it as long as I make the walk and I show up to compete. Being afraid is perfectly normal. So I think against guys like that, when guys that are super dangerous I respond differently."
Having taken out one of the most dangerous fighters in the division, Alvarez still has a tough path in defending his lightweight belt considering title contenders such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson, and many more. However, Alvarez is more concerned on bringing the UFC to his hometown of Philadelphia than on who he might be defending his title against.
"More than anything, I would just really love for the UFC to come back to Philadelphia," Alvarez said. "I really want to campaign for that, I really want to push for that. If its not in Philadelphia, like it's somewhere near by. This town is just screaming on the top of their lungs to have the UFC here and I think we can sell out the Wells Fargo arena. I think it's an easy sellout for the city in Philadelphia."