Eddie Alvarez's new nickname might be "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas."
The UFC lightweight champion told Ariel Helwani during a walk-and-talk interview in Philadelphia for MMA Fighting that if he were to fight Conor McGregor, he would break a lot of people's hearts.
"I feel like if this fight is signed and it happens, I feel like I'm about to tell the whole world that there's no Santa Claus," Alvarez said. "And everybody is gonna be disappointed. There's no Santa Claus. He don't exist. It was a lie and I'm gonna steal the magic from everyone. The magic is gone. And I can't wait. It's gonna be a great time for me."
There is no official fight set between Alvarez and McGregor, the UFC featherweight champion. There have been rumblings about a possible date between the two at UFC 205, the UFC's first-ever trip to New York at Madison Square Garden. From a financial perspective, that makes plenty of sense.
But Alvarez is not sure if McGregor really wants to fight him.
"Where we differ is I'm more about what's real and I think he's more about perception," Alvarez said. "This game is changing. I'm watching it change. The game of MMA is changing. Because the business is coming before the sport now, the perception is becoming more important than what really is. This is why I said I don't think they'll take the fight. If the perception is the most important, then you don't try to beat the best guy in the world. You don't go after me. You go after the guy who looks like the best guy in the world, but really isn't."
Alvarez, 32, won the UFC lightweight title by knocking out Rafael dos Anjos in the first round at UFC Fight Night 90 in July. McGregor is coming off a majority decision victory over Nate Diaz at UFC 202 last month. Alvarez has campaigned a bit for the fight, saying McGregor would be an "easy" opponent. He hasn't come off that line of dialogue, either.
"In a sparring room, there's always a guy, we call him the rest round," Alvarez said. "[McGregor is] the rest round. He's the guy you grab when you're super tired and you go, ‘Hey, c'mon man, let's do a round.'
"He comes to our gym and trains, he's the rest round. For everyone, not just me. For Frankie [Edgar], for Edson [Barboza], for Marlon [Moraes]. For any one of us."
McGregor, 28, was lauded for his performance against Diaz, coming back from a second-round submission loss to his rival at UFC 196 to gut out a victory at T-Mobile Arena. Alvarez didn't think the performance was all that special.
"I was impressed by like about seven minutes of it," Alvarez said. "About the first seven minutes and then it all looked really sloppy and didn't look of championship caliber to me. It didn't look like a guy who spent $300,000 on a training camp. I could have did that sh*t for $5, what just went on there. I think he could have spent a lot less and got a lot more."
Those first seven minutes of McGregor against Diaz was what stood out to Alvarez. If the two men were to fight, Alvarez believes the brash Irishman would be in deep trouble after that stage of the fight.
"Past the eight-minute mark, I don't see anything but being dominant," Alvarez said. "I think he can do well, because it's easy to be technical in the first round or two. It's easy to be technical. But when the sh*t hits the fan and it turns into a fight, I will f*cking dominate this guy every step of the way. When it turns into when he's a little bit tired and he has to dig down, it's over. It's all over."
Outside of some of the shots he has taken at McGregor, Alvarez said he doesn't really care if McGregor or someone else is next. "The Underground King" said he's not actively trying to procure a title defense against "The Notorious." It's up to the UFC, Alvarez said.
"I'm the champion," he said. "I have the title. People want what I have. I'm not begging for anything from anybody. If this guy wants this title, he can come get it."