Years ago, Eddie Alvarez’s reputation was rather unique. Fighting outside of the UFC, ‘The Underground King’ seemed to deal exclusively in blood and guts battles, often overcoming a knockdown or two on route to valiant victory. He certainly spent much of his time in the win column too, usually coming out on top after some high drama along the way. MMA wasn't lacking great fighters at the top, especially back then but Alvarez was different, his fights just came with a different kind of feel and flavor.
As has been since well-established though, Alvarez’s career would transform in more ways than one. Upon arrival in the UFC, the former Bellator champion was greeted by a defeat, losing an exciting affair opposite Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. In hindsight, it’s clear that this fight was a pivotal one in Alvarez’s career, leading to tactical shifts that eventually, led him to UFC gold. Alvarez wasn't the only man to have his career changed that night though, with a then Featherweight Dustin Poirier being stopped in under two minutes by the surging Conor McGregor.
A move up to Lightweight followed and now almost 4 years later, Poirier finds himself just days away from a rematch with ‘The Underground King’ himself. Alvarez’s more conservative approach indeed earned him a title fight back in 2016 but it was his sheer passion for violence that actually won him the belt. In famous fashion, Alvarez’s title reign would end quickly, with the aforementioned McGregor taking the title from him in one-sided style. In the meantime, Poirier’s four fight win-streak had only just been broken too, dropping an upset loss against Michael Johnson.
Poirier soon returned to form though, beating Jim Miller and positioning himself to be Alvarez’s first fight back after his McGregor defeat. In a fight that laid the groundwork for this Saturday’s highly anticipated rematch, Poirier heavily rocked Alvarez but the former champion somehow recovered, scoring a takedown just seconds after looking out on his feet. However, unfortunately instincts got in the way of a satisfying result as Alvarez landed two illegal knees, consequently causing a disappointing ‘no contest’ finish.
Though just moments prior, Poirier had looked excruciatingly close to victory, this dramatic chaos also felt like a return to Alvarez’s former gruesome glory. Bloody and battered, Alvarez almost snapped into motion in the fight’s closing moments but we were sadly robbed of a fitting conclusion. After Poirier scored a return win against former champion Anthony Pettis, Alvarez’s own revert back to savagery continued, stopping Justin Gaethje late in a brutal fight that involved nothing but aggression from start to finish.
Alvarez had scored his first win in over a year and in doing so, seemed almost inspired by the obscene warfare that he’d just experienced. In the same vein, Poirier may have next somehow topped that effort, also finishing Gaethje in a fight arguably even more entrenched in brutality. Though his history in this genre of fighting was thinner than Eddie’s, Poirier had undeniably become one of MMA’s most exciting combatants at this point in time. A prolific puncher, Poirier’s confidence in his own knockout power often resulted in excitement, and after this impressive Gaethje win there was some obvious business to settle.
The conflict between Poirier and Alvarez had seemingly only grew since their in-cage thrills and at long last, a rematch was finally booked. We are now just days away from that very fight and it’s fair to say that in a stacked Lightweight division, these two are fighting for more than just title contention. Alvarez’s resume of thriving within wildness is well-established but for Poirier, this is the chance to very much elevate his spot in that realm of the sport. The question is, can ‘The Diamond’ indeed close the show after so barely missing out last time?
In a world of excitement, these two fighters stand in an elite group of insanity. With an almost frightening penchant for octagon violence, they look to settle the score in the hunt for more than just a title shot. Both men are top contenders of course but this is about establishing a personal pecking order, a matter of proving that in the heat of the battle, their foe will eventually fall. The famed Gaethje pressure wasn't enough to break them but now once again standing opposite each other, it’s time to finally bring some finality to this mirror image match. A clash of almost identical wills, regardless of the technical contrasts along the way.