On the eve of UFC 218, Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje are on the cusp of settling the debate for ‘most violent man’ in the UFC.
Setting the stage
Justin Gaethje has made a career out of being the most game fighter in the cage every time he steps into the ring. His astronomical run in World Series of Fighting as their Lightweight Champion was more than enough to grant him entrance into the most esteemed fighting company of them all this past year. Gaethje wasted no time in making his name known amongst the UFC faithful. His Fight of the Night performance against Michael Johnson had many fans clamoring for more as he picked up two bonuses on the night.
Since his win, Gaethje has been on a mission to ‘find his equal’ in the octagon. On the MMA hour, Gaethje stated many times that he considers himself a fighter’s fighter who is doing what he does in order to be the best, not to simply cash the checks. His demeanor inside and outside the ring has humbled many of his opponents as he has yet to be bested by the top ranks of fighters at lightweight.
His ability to land strikes, and land with bad intentions, has been a hallmark of his growth as a fighter since he started out. Justin Gaethje possesses an uncanny ability to make fights interesting whether or not he’s the one administering damage. His tenure at WSOF didn’t come without its fair share of bumps and bruises as he defended his title five times. Gaethje will look to continue his streak of explosive fights this weekend with another excellent dance partner in Philly native Eddie Alvarez.
Don’t call it a comeback
The lightweight title picture hasn’t really been static since Anthony Pettis lost the strap to Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 185. After one title defense, Eddie Alvarez shook up the world when he flatlined Rafael Dos Anjos in a flurry that lasted almost three minutes. Alvarez threw everything, AND the kitchen sink in order to ensure victory. Which ultimately panned out in his favor as he claimed UFC gold at UFN 90.
That moment of bliss wouldn’t last long as the overwhelming shadow of Conor McGregor loomed over the title picture as Eddie Alvarez’s first defense was set against the |Notorious” at UFC 205. In a battle of wits, Alvarez was bested by a zen Conor McGregor as Alvarez admitted after the fact that he was overtaken by the whole ordeal.
Making the switch from fighting a Fight Pass main event to headlining MSG put a toll on Alvarez, and it was back to the drawing boards as he went on to face Dustin Poirier the following year. In a back and forth exchange, the fight ended in controversial fashion as a No Contest would decide what should’ve been a marquee fight for both competitors.
Since then, the back and forth Twitter exchanges between Alvarez and Poirier bore no fruit. In an attempt to move in the right direction, Alvarez got the contract to take on Gaethje in a stellar match-up that will further decide who should step in next for UFC gold. Alvarez lauded the hype to this match-up in interviews, citing this as a win-win for fighters and fans alike.
Given both fighters track records, there is no reason to deny that claim. This fight is tailor made to deliver on every level for hardcore and mainstream MMA fans alike. In a division where the top fighters are being held up by outside politics, this fight is a return to normalcy for viewers who want to see the best take on the best.