Thursday, Eddie Alvarez will attempt to make history by becoming the first fighter to win both UFC and Bellator gold when he challenges reigning UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. This past weekend, Alvarez spoke with Bas Rutten and Mauro Ranallo on Inside MMA about his upcoming fight with RDA and how he matches up with the champion.
"I think he's overly aggressive. That works against guys who have the ability to be bullied and who won't fight back. I think that's the wrong approach to go about this fight with. If he does that and decides to go that route, I think he's gonna bring the dog out in me and this could end up being bad."
That "dog" Alvarez mentions has been mostly caged since his arrival in the UFC. Alvarez came to the UFC in the fall of 2014 as the biggest free agent signing for the promotion since Mirko Cro Cop. Alvarez was the Bellator lightweight champion and had built his name off of an all action, fan friendly fighting style, but his arrival was stunted when he lost his first fight in the promotion to Donald Cerrone. Since then he has beaten Gilbert Melendez and the suddenly reeling Anthony Pettis in two lackluster, clinch heavy split decisions. The exciting style he is known for has mostly been absent, something he says is intentional.
"It's the art of deception. I can't ever let no one peg me or tell me what I am. It's important to always be changing, always bringing a different game plan, always surprising your opponents. I'm sure RDA has a vision of how I'm gonna fight him as well, but he has no idea."
And frankly, no one does. Alvarez's recent stylistic change makes it difficult to predict how he will look this weekend. But if the vociferousness of his training is any indication, we may see the old Alvarez in the cage on Thursday night.
"We've done 150 sparring rounds, live sparring rounds for this fight. I couldn't have perfected this dance any more than what it's gonna be. We're just ready to go in there on Thursday and do it...I don't believe in over-training. I think someone made that up who didn't necessarily want to train that day so he came up with a line and said ‘over-train.' I don't believe it. I'm in the mind that the more you do something the better you get at it."
Alvarez's contention runs counter to the current prevailing trend in MMA training towards less and less live sparring because of the effects of over-training. Brian Stann has spoken often about the prevalence of over-training in MMA (especially compared to other sports), welterweight champion Robbie Lawler famously didn't spar for nearly six years of his career, and Junior dos Santos could have died from over-training after his fight with Cain Velasquez where rhabdomyolysis became an issue for him.
The sparring heavy training of Alvarez is a call back to the earlier days of MMA where the best training was thought to be trial by fire. One of the most successful MMA teams of all time, the Chute Boxe Academy, trained its fighters by putting them through gym wars on a daily basis (interestingly, training and coaching those legendary sessions was Rafael Cordeiro, the current coach of Rafael dos Anjos.) But in the current MMA landscape (and in most sports in general) the emphasis has shifted towards training smarter and more efficiently to preserve the body from unnecessary wear, tear, and injury. Whether Alvarez's disregard for this trend will hurt him will soon be determined but even if he loses, at least Alvarez will know that it wasn't for lack of trying.
5 MUST-READ STORIES
Rumble. Jon Jones says he hasn't been intimidated by an opponent since he fought Rampage.
Or it's called BJJ. Sage Northcutt calls his loss to Bryan Barberena a fluke.
Fighter Union. Georges St-Pierre thinks fighters are bad at negotiating their contracts.
Movies. Miesha Tate says defending her title is more important than making movies.
More in his head than Jones-DC. Jose Aldo won't retire before rematching Conor McGregor.
EXTRA CREDIT READING
Under pressure. Patrick Wyman of The Washington Post dissects the best pressure fighter in MMA, Rafael dos Anjos.
Murder. Karim Zidan of Bloody Elbow discusses the trend of Dagestani athletes being murdered by political gangsters.
We have got some new and exciting stuff coming your way y'all. For instance, yesterday Marc and Shaun did a Facebook Live thing to kick off International Fight Week. Check it out.
Embedded. JBJ and Holly Holm seem like they're best friends. And damn dude. Jon looks ready.
It's fight week so let's watch some fights. Crazy to think Chael Sonnen was just minutes away from being a champion in two different divisions.
Gleison Tibau is an enormous lightweight and Tony Ferguson is every bit as big as him.
Fan made promo for the upcoming welterweight title fight.
Watching this heavily edited footage of Conor against VanHeerdan should let you know everything you need to about his chances versus Floyd.
Travis Barker made a tat bet with TMZ.
Gegard with the Amigos.
Severe on the upcoming major week.
That's it. Jim Miller is the new lightweight champ. RDA has to hand him the belt at UFC 200.
Hope everyone came back to work with all their fingers and toes and substantially less brain cells.
Happy 4th of July everyone. Be safe and God bless! pic.twitter.com/0Vek9yJni6— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocicufc) July 4, 2016
$4 billion dollar company.
The perks of being a heavyweight.
This is high level social media game.
Can't tell if he's serious or not.
The Mac Life. pic.twitter.com/UCX3XAmGkU— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) July 5, 2016
It's fight week ladies and gentlemen.
Just a few more days and this feud will finally be over.
BC the dudes not a real martial artist, still haven't found a video of him kickboxing without his wrestling shoeshttps://t.co/2HrHWUGDE2— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) July 1, 2016
Eddie stays ready.
Matt Hughes did a fan Q and A over the weekend on Twitter. I suggest you check it out.
Lee threw two punches and Tito went down is the short version. https://t.co/7wYM2vsx3X— Matt Hughes (@matthughes9x) July 3, 2016
See, check it out.
Offensively:Johny Hendricks— Matt Hughes (@matthughes9x) July 3, 2016
Defenseless: Robbie Lawler https://t.co/MCA6TGp6ga
Congrats to Rory.
Melisandre is screwed. Just wait til Davos breaks out the pool noodles on her.
What sort of outlandish thing do you think Conor will open when he retires for real?
Joe Gigliotti (7-0-0) vs. Trevor Smith (13-6-0); UFC 202, August 20.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2008: Forrest Griffin became the UFC light heavyweight champion, defeating Quinton Jackson via leg kick heavy unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 86. In the co-main, Patrick Cote earned himself a shot at middleweight champion Anderson Silva by taking a split decision off of Ricardo Almeida.
2014: Ronda Rousey defended her UFC women's bantamweight championship, knocking out Alexis Davis in 16 seconds at UFC 175. In the main event that evening, Chris Weidman won a competitive decision over Lyoto Machida to defend his middleweight championship.
Man M.Rmy, it is good to be back! Apologies for no Report yesterday - especially for those of you who aren't American and weren't celebrating - but the biggest fight week of the year is upon us and that is something we all should be pumped about. We have FIVE title bouts ahead of us (six if you think Dillashaw should be the rightful bantamweight champ) and a slew of number one contender bouts and just fun ass fights.
Plus, we have the greatest fighter of all time (not named Georges St-Pierre) fighting against the most underrated fighter in the history of MMA and a guy you can make the argument is the best ever (an argument I will be making later this week). That's right, Jose Aldo is back in action and gonna do the damn thing against Frank Edgar. Yeah, I called Aldo the second best ever. GSP - Aldo - Anderson - Jon Jones - Fedor - with DJ and Hendo right there. Also, I have BJ and Frankie in this nebulous spot where I think they might actually be 1A and 1B in the GOAT category but not based on actual merit/resume. Come at me in the comments because I'm assuming no one agrees with any of that.
Anyway, our coverage is going to be wall to wall all week long and we will be unveiling some new stuff for y'all to enjoy as well, like the Facebook Live session that is linked above. Also, give us a follow on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we should have posts on there all week from the floor in Vegas. Check it all out and let us know what you think.
That's it for today folks. Until tomorrow.
If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting.