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Eddie Alvarez says he'd welcome an easier fight next, 'like Conor McGregor'

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To kick off the UFC's big long weekend in Las Vegas heading into UFC 200 on Saturday night, Eddie Alvarez made the first big statement by taking the lightweight belt from Rafael dos Anjos. The underdog Alvarez caught dos Anjos with a right hand that wobbled him, and then proceeded to take him apart in the first round.

He put him away with punches at 3:49 of the first round.

And afterwards, when discussing what was next in the UFC's most competitive division, the Philadelphia native said he'd like to get "gimme" fight after hacking through a murderer's row. He even dropped a well-known name.

'I think for me, by far, the best lightweight in this division is Rafael dos Anjos," the new champ Alvarez said. "I had the better night tonight, for sure, but this can go either way. There are great competitors and there's a real small margin for error, and if you mess up once, it could have been me at the other end of that punch, so this guy to the right of me is the best in the division.

"To be able to come out with a win over him, and before him was [Anthony] Pettis, and before him was Gilbert [Melendez], these are the best guys in the division. I'm not taking on top 15 guys. So I would ask Dana White, please give me an easier fight like Conor McGregor. I deserve that. I've been fighting the best guys, so I would like a gimme fight. So, Conor, I'd more than welcome that."

The 32-year-old Alvarez has now three fights in a row since losing his UFC debut against Donald Cerrone at UFC 178 in 2014. The TKO over dos Anjos was also his first finish since coming over to the UFC as Bellator's reigning champion.

Asked what it meant to add the UFC title to the collection of titles he has taken home over the course of his career, Alvarez merely said that hard work pays off.

"This has always been like a marathon for me, not a sprint," he said. "And everybody used to ask me, when are you going to go to the UFC, when are you going to challenge, telling me what I should do and when I should do it. I just think if you work hard enough and you love something, these belts and things like this are just byproducts of it.

"This will not be here forever {points to belt), but I just think working hard and doing something you're passionate about is important. And you know, right now we have the belt and I'm the champion, like I told a lot of people I would be. So, I'm happy."

With dos Anjos on a tear of late, winning five straight bouts going back to 2014, including dominant performances over Anthony Pettis and Cerrone, the Brazilian was heavily favored to retain his title on Thursday night. Yet Alvarez not only took the title, he made a huge statement in the process.

He said afterwards that things really couldn't have gone any better, while deflecting his success to his coaching staff.

"Mark Henry is the brains behind our whole operation," he said of his coach. "I owe it all to Mark Henry. He's gotten...I've improved so much since I've been back home in Philadelphia. They've got my body working in ways, my defense has gotten cleaner, just doing things differently. I can't take much credit, other than just trying to get prepared for the fight. I owe everything to my coaches and my teammates."