Eddie Alvarez just raised the stakes for his UFC 218 showdown with Justin Gaethje and to be honest, if it will make these two fight harder, then I don’t think anyone can complain.
I didn’t think it was physically possible to be any more excited for the potentially electric lightweight battle between the former-champ Eddie Alvarez and the former-WSOF champion Justin Gaethje but seeing as we’re now just days away from seeing these guys in action at UFC 218, we will accept this latest nudge from Alvarez himself as a good sign for the night’s entertainment as the hype continues to build.
As two of the sport’s most vicious competitors, Alvarez and Gaethje have both spent their careers experiencing adversity at nearly every corner and now, with both plying their trade in the UFC, they have finally been matched up for a contest that will test both of them to the furthest reaches of their heart and determination.
Gaethje’s UFC debut came on the back of an unbeaten career that saw him rule over the lightweight division of his former home World Series of Fighting. His grit and unwillingness to stay down has seen him consistently bounce back when virtually all hope would appear to be lost and though his first octagon outing against Michael Johnson saw him knocked down on several occasions, ‘the Highlight’ was able to pull through with a vintage display, rallying in the type of way that has seen many herald him as one of the most stubborn fighters to ever do it.
Another man who resides firmly within that bracket, however, is the very man he will face off against this Saturday in Eddie Alvarez.
Alvarez’s stock may have taken a bit of a hit following his UFC 205 destruction at the hands of Conor McGregor but really, Eddie has always found a way to bounce back from these setbacks and with titles in Bellator, DREAM and, of course, the UFC, the highs and lows of this game are nothing new to ‘the Underground King’.
What makes this match so compelling from a stylistic point-of-view is the incomparably violent approach they both have towards the art of combat. Both have seen their own blood spill upon the canvas on many, many occasions and both have been able to ignore even the slightest amount of doubt that may have hindered their ability to get the win.
All in all, these guys are fighters in every sense of the word.
So with fight-week now well and truly underway, Alvarez spoke to MMAFighting about his views on the matchup and why even though no physical belt is on the line, each man’s reputation and resumé will elevate the stakes to a level beyond the spot it has been dealt just shy of the night’s main event.
“There’s not really a game plan to be honest with you. Justin has been able to pressure people and cut them off and has done really well. I don’t think that the strategy that I’m able to apply because I’m an athlete. The guys that he has been facing don’t seem to be doing what they should do.
“I have the answer to what these other guys haven’t been able to do and I’m really excited. This has been the most improvement that I’ve made since I’ve been in the UFC.
“For me, this is the main event. For me, there is extra leverage going into this fight because I’ve beaten every single champion from almost every organization you can think of. From Shinya Aoki from Strikeforce to Melendez to Pettis from UFC, then to Bellator, the list goes on and on,
“For me, it’s another champion under my belt beaten and I’ve made a career out of doing that. I can’t fight for the UFC belt at the minute. I’m realistic and I’m not getting that shot just yet, so this is the next best thing. I only deal with things I can control and right now there’s a whole other title on the line and that’s the ‘UFC most violent man’. And that title is on the line on Dec. 2.”
As for a prediction for the bout’s outcome, Eddie wasn’t going to be baited into an exact answer but thankfully, he reassured the fans that no matter what, the fight was going to live up to the considerable hype that came from the moment it was announced.
“I will say this, it’s going to be f**kin’ nuts because I spent a great deal of this training camp working not giving a f**k myself and I’m getting better and better the less I care.
“I don’t have a crystal ball but I can tell fans right now, they better have their popcorn and their soda ready for this fight because it’s going to be something special to watch.”
The Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan is the venue chosen to host this riveting matchup and with some of the best fights of the year making up the UFC 218 fight-card, December 2 looks set to follow on from the massive highs of UFC 217 earlier this month.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena