Following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s win over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223, Eddie Alvarez is campaigning for a bout with the new champ, and he’s also relayed he wasn’t impressed with what he saw, April 7th.
As you surely know, Nurmagomedov’s performance at the event has been the focal point of a lot of discussion lately. During the bout, UFC commentator Joe Rogan was critical of Nurmagomedov’s striking. So much so, he argued the bout would bolster the confidence of Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson, in terms of defeating the undefeated fighter. Rogan wasn’t the only person to share this view.
Since “The Eagle” won the lightweight title via judges scores of 50-44, 50-43, 50-43, and landed 134 significant strikes to Iaquinta’s 41, however, some have argued that narrative’s an exaggeration. The argument being that while Nurmagomedov’s striking still needs to improve, he never appeared to be in any real danger against the heavy handed Iaquinta. Further, they point to the fact Nurmagomedov seemed content to stand during the middle rounds.
Well, clearly Alvarez is in the first camp, rather than the latter, as he recently told ESPN this:
“People will say, ‘Oh, he’s just trying to talk himself into that fight,’ but I’m not talking myself into s—,” said Alvarez, who recently argued he’s Nurmagomedov’s “kryptonite”. “I thought the same thing about Khabib that anyone who knows a thing about fighting did: He didn’t look good.
“Defensively, he looked terrible. Of course, he’s always dominant on top, and Al is a good fighter — but even the entrances on his takedowns looked forced. They didn’t look clean or set up. After the 10-minute mark, he looked like he’d wore himself out. I saw a ton of vulnerabilities.”
Prior to UFC 223, other observers pointed to Nurmagomedov’s takedown entrances, as to where they believed the vaunted grappler could get caught. Michael Johnson, for example, tagged Khabib with some hard shots as he moved in, but he was ultimately, unable to halt his takedowns.
Nurmagomedov supporters would also likely point out that he’s now faced dangerous strikers, as well as solid wrestlers, and no one’s been able to end his undefeated run. Could Alvarez be the guy to do it?
That aside, in the aforementioned interview, Alvarez also said that he believes Ferguson will be out for 2018, and he also questioned whether McGregor will fight. Thus, the former champ wants to face Khabib next. If McGregor does in fact take a different fight, would the UFC would look at Nurmagomedov – Alvarez? If Dustin Poirier defeats Justin Gaethje tomorrow, probably not.