The year of the upset continues as another dream has come true for another unlikely new world champion. The huge underdog nicknamed the Underground King entered tonight as confident as ever in spite of three lackluster performances in the UFC that resulted in two close decision victories over Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis while losing to Donald Cerrone in a lopsided decision. Eddie Alvarez was adamant that the countless rounds of sparring had prepared him for a title shot against the impressive Rafael dos Anjos who made quick work of Cerrone back in December and dismantled Pettis over the course of 25 minutes last March. From early on Alvarez displayed the nice right hand counter against the champ, which would be the same shot that would stumble dos Anjos followed by a barrage of punches, a flying knee and countless combinations that eventually led Herb Dean to step in to stop the action. dos Anjos appeared as the beast entering the bout, but in reality dos Anjos unleashed the beast in Eddie Alvarez as he reminded us tonight who he is and why he was able to capture multiple world championships outside of the UFC organization.
Alvarez’s boxing skills have always been there, but his tendency to brawl has hurt him in the past against names like Michael Chandler and Nick Thompson. The focus displayed by Alvarez during pre-fight interviews was eerie despite the odds being against him. We are continuously reminded that in mixed martial arts nothing is guaranteed and following a night filled with whirlwinds and fan outrage over UFC 200, Eddie Alvarez has etched his name into the fairy tale stories that have come in abundance this year alone. The Philadelphia native came over to the UFC immediately seeking the toughest competition the UFC could offer and when it seemed like the competition level at Bellator and Dream were not enough for Alvarez to be taken seriously as a potential UFC lightweight champion, fans lost hope in the Underground King.
Fans wrote him off almost as soon as the fight was announced and placed on Fight Pass of all places. After all, Khabib Nurmagomedov was the uncrowned champion in the eyes of many after holding a win over dos Anjos. Tony Ferguson was seen as someone who should’ve earned the title shot since he is currently sitting on an seven fight winning streak. Eddie Alvarez should have lost to Gilbert Melendez. Alvarez held onto Pettis for most of their fight. The proof appeared to be in the pudding for Alvarez to be yet another victim of the champion who holds wins over Ben Henderson, Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis, and twice over Donald Cerrone.
The last time dos Anjos was knocked out was eight years ago, which occurred long before dos Anjos evolved into the Muay Thai specialist he is today. At the start of the fight Alvarez almost immediately gave up the center of the octagon and settled to try and counter against the aggressor and he was able to find a flaw and proceed to stagger and beat the champion like we’ve never seen before. The lightweight division will always possess the most depth and uncertainty, but tonight belongs to Eddie Alvarez as he is shockingly sitting atop his throne with a target on his back.