We break down the stakes as two of the UFC’s most violent men meet in a rematch of their UFC 211 thriller at UFC Calgary tonight.
UFC Calgary is finally upon us and with that, we take a look at what exactly is on the line as its headlining matchup draws closer.
Eddie Alvarez in three words: Gritty, Experienced, Underdog
Notable wins: Michael Chandler, Anthony Pettis, Rafael dos Anjos, Justin Gaethje, Gilbert Melendez, Shinya Aoki
Highest high: It might not have been his most dogged victory, but his 2016 first-round KO of Rafael dos Anjos felt like the culmination of a career’s work. Clipping the seemingly unbeatable Brazilian early, Eddie swarmed before taking him out within the opening stanza – winning himself the UFC lightweight title in the process.
Lowest low: Alvarez’s title-reign in the UFC didn’t last as long as he would have liked and on the biggest stage of his fighting career – he experienced by far his lowest moment. Facing the featherweight champion Conor McGregor and his sea of supporters, Eddie went out there at UFC 205 and put on a head-scratcher of a performance before being brutally dispatched in the second round.
Recent form: To be honest, McGregor-aside, Alvarez has been pretty solid of late. Sure, he was in some real danger in both his ‘no-contest’ against Dustin Poirier as well as his thriller against Justin Gaethje but in truth – Eddie has lived in the danger-zone for the vast majority of his career and at 34-years-old, he is still performing remarkably well while staying true to himself.
Dustin Poirier in three words: Clinical, Chaotic, Veteran
Notable wins: Max Holloway, Justin Gaethje, Joe Duffy, Anthony Pettis, Yancy Medeiros, Jim Miller
Highest high: Poirier’s fantastic Fight of the Year contender loss against Chan Sung Jung is a favourite but as far as his actual achievements go, defeating Justin Gaethje in his last outing in the manner that he did was something to truly be in awe of. Doing it even more impressively than Alvarez did – and in a five-rounder to boot – Dustin proved his mettle and durability beyond any doubt.
Lowest low: Both men have a lot in common in terms of their approach to fighting and for this section, both share the same low-point. At UFC 178, Dustin was quickly dispatched by Conor McGregor in the opening 90-seconds of their featherweight showdown. There was a lot of trash-talking done on both sides in the leadup and all things considered, it amounted to an embarrassing night for ‘The Diamond’.
Recent form: Since being KO’d by Michael Johnson back in 2016, Poirier has been on fire – beating Gaethje, Pettis and Miller. Sure, his first pairing with Eddie Alvarez saw him in some danger towards the end – but when you watch it back, he really did look like a prime version of himself for the majority of that fight.
What’s at stake?: It’s hard to see the UFC giving ‘the Underground King’ another shot at the belt – given the way the promotion is handling things these days but with his own title of the UFC’s most violent man on the line, it’s a narrative we’re all prepared to follow.
With his advancing age, Eddie is more than likely on his last handful of fights but after winning a title in virtually every organisation he has fought in – you can see that he is no longer as worried about getting gold wrapped around his waist.
Dustin may seem like a slightly more viable candidate for a shot at the belt given his youth but in reality, the queue contains several fighters who could easily get the nod ahead of him, regardless of what the rankings might say after Saturday.
I would argue that the winner – no matter who it is – will still be one win away from a title shot.
Loser’s prize: A fight with the winner of Gaethje vs. Vick or even a showdown against Edson Barboza
Winner’s prize: Kevin Lee or Tony Ferguson.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena