Expectations were that for Eddie Alvarez to agree to a rematch against Dustin Poirier, he would first have to agree to terms with the UFC on new deal.
However, that didn’t end up being the case.
Alvarez and Poirier meet in a much-anticipated lightweight clash on July 28 in the main event of UFC on FOX 30, which takes place at Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome. The fight represents the final bout of Alvarez’s current UFC contract, meaning the stakes will be exceedingly high for “The Underground King” when he rematches Poirier in a contest that could go a long way toward deciding the next 155-pound title contender.
“I’m betting on myself,” Alvarez said recently on The MMA Hour. “There wasn’t a new contract signed, and whoever — whether it’s his camp, or whoever’s camp out there that is kinda putting that out there, that’s bullcrap. I’m not this new guy coming in who signed this new, giant, great deal. That’s not what happened. I sat down with Dana (White) and the UFC, and we’re still very cordial, we’re still talking. There was no deal signed, but there’s a point in every fighter’s career where sometimes you roll the dice on yourself. Sometimes you believe in yourself and you roll the dice.
“I like to put myself in a very emotional state, and I think by rolling the dice on myself, putting my back against the wall — in the past I’ve done really well there, so I’m kinda putting my own back against the wall and I’m rolling the dice and I’m betting on me.”
Alvarez, 34, has long been considered one of the best 155-pound fighters in the world. A former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion, he has compiled a 4-2 record (with one no-contest) over the course of his Octagon run, which began in 2014 and has been spent competing exclusively against top-tier competition.
Alvarez said that although negotiations hit a standstill with the UFC, he maintains a good relationship with White and everyone else involved in his contract talks. He’s hopeful a new deal will get figured out, but given the fan enthusiasm that was building behind the Poirier rematch, he didn’t want to delay things any further.
“Everything is really good between all of us, all parties,” Alvarez said. “We just haven’t come to an agreement. Every deal is different, and every deal takes more time than the next, so I have a feeling we’ll get something done. Right now it’s not, so rather than elongate the process, say ‘I’m not going to fight’ and stomp my foot down and be a baby, I said let’s fight. Let’s just fight. Let’s fight. And then we’ll figure it out along the way. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
“But I think we’re all talking and everything is going well. So I’m happy with the way things are going, but I think it’s more important — fans are yelling and screaming about this fight, everybody wants it, and I think it’s more important that we put this fight on for the fans.”
Alvarez and Poirier competed once before in May 2017 at UFC 211 in a wild, back-and-forth affair that appeared to be trending toward ‘Fight of the Year’ territory until the match ended in an anticlimactic no-contest after Alvarez landed two illegal knees to Poirier’s head. Poirier has campaigned for a rematch ever since, while Alvarez has expressed minimal interest and claimed that Poirier was looking for a way out.
But now that the rematch is officially on, Alvarez is confident he’s making the right decision.
“When I fought Dustin, Dustin did well. And a lot of guys do well against me,” Alvarez said. “He pounds his chest and says he did well. A lot of guys do well. A lot of guys were winning against me. If I can count on my hands who was winning against me, there’s a lot of you guys out there. But you didn’t win. And then when I came back, I felt his spirit break. And this is an honest assessment. I’m not trying to be mean or start a fight or anything like that. This is how I felt inside the cage. And a part of me feels like he knows this, and that’s the only reason he’s begging for a rematch. Because when you feel like you beat someone, you don’t care to fight them again. Why would you care so much to fight a guy that you sincerely yelled to the whole masses, ‘I beat?’
“It just didn’t make any sense to me. So I know what I know, I know what I felt, and it’s going to happen again. It’s sincerely going to happen again. And it has nothing to do with Dustin. It has more to do with my contract issue — that I’m rolling the dice on myself and I’m betting on myself, and it feels lovely.”
Despite their many disagreements, Alvarez did vouch for Poirier on one point. Both men are adamant that their fight will determine the No. 1 contender for the lightweight title.
That’s about it when it comes to peace offerings though.
It’s clear Alvarez and Poirier have a grudge to settle at UFC on FOX 30, and Alvarez wasn’t shy when met by Poirier face-to-face on The MMA Hour.
“You know what happens when you start f*cking me up,” Alvarez told Poirier. “You know more than anyone that when you start f*cking me up, what happens? So I’m looking forward to it.
“You caught me with a shot, all good, you got me. The sh*t ain’t going to happen again. And I want you to fight, man. I dare you to fight me. Everybody who’s come in with that kind of attitude and fought me like that — I want you to come at me, man. I really do. I’m looking forward to it. This’ll be good for Calgary. It’ll be good for the both of us.”