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Eddie Alvarez: Khabib Nurmagomedov or bust if I beat Dustin Poirier

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CALGARY, Alberta — Eddie Alvarez believes the only path for him after UFC on FOX 30 is the lightweight title.

The former 155-pound champion said Wednesday at open workouts here at The Palace Theatre that, for him, it’s either Khabib Nurmagomedov for the belt or bust if he can beat Dustin Poirier on Saturday.

“There is no one,” Alvarez said. “I just simply don’t see no gain anywhere except for Khabib. That’s it. I don’t know if the UFC — I don’t see them putting anyone else in front of me. It just don’t make any sense. For where I’m at in my career, the people that I’ve went against. I fight back-to-back-to-back the hardest resume. You name another fighter or anybody in the lightweight division who has fought the toughest guys. You’re hard pressed to find that guy — I’m that guy.”

Alvarez (29-5, 1 NC) said he ran into Nurmagomedov on Wednesday morning at the gym. Nurmagomedov is in town with his training partner Islam Makhachev. Alvarez said there was no exchange between him and Nurmagomedov.

“He walked by,” Alvarez sad. “He didn’t say nothing and I didn’t say nothing. We kept our peace and it is what it is. I wish him luck. Look, it’s hard to get that championship belt. When you have it — it’s hard to get it, it’s hard to keep it. The fight gods are on his side right now and he’s doing well and I wish him the best of luck.”

Nurmagomedov is likely on a collision course with former champion Conor McGregor, the absentee superstar. McGregor has a hearing for his criminal charges Thursday in Brooklyn and that should provide clarity as to what’s next for “The Notorious.” The speculation is that he’ll return before the end of the year against Nurmagomedov for the belt.

Alvarez, who dropped the belt to McGregor in 2016, is very much aware of all of that.

“If Conor comes back, Conor will get it,” Alvarez said Monday on The MMA Hour with Luke Thomas. “I’m a realist. This is what’s going to happen. The ability to make $100 million for the UFC is way more important than doing what’s righteous and what’s whatever for the company. They’ll have to hash out the Conor-Khabib thing, make that fight happen, have everybody make a lot of money and be happy. And whoever is sitting in the wings, who is deserving, I guess will get the next shot.”

Alvarez, 34, is banking on that being him, though he knows Poirier will be a tough task. The two fought to a no contest at UFC 211 last year when Alvarez landed accidental illegal knees to a downed Poirier. Alvarez said he was still feeling the affects of his knockout loss to McGregor in that bout and was not himself. He’s vowing things will be different at UFC on FOX 30.

“I was too much in my own head,” Alvarez said. “Very hesitant the first fight, too much thought going on. I didn’t do much. I gave Dustin a lot of space. And you guys are gonna see almost immediately right away the difference in the fight when Dustin Poirier isn’t given the space that he wants and needs to create his opportunities.

“He does very well. He’s a gifted fighter, talented and athletic. And he does well with space. You take that away, it’s gonna be a long night.”


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