NEW YORK — When Eddie Alvarez stood across from Conor McGregor for the first time after their fight was announced for UFC 205 in New York, he knew the outspoken Irishman was going to have a lot to say.
McGregor is well known for his bluster and brash responses whenever asked any questions, especially while addressing his upcoming opponents.
After the press conference ended, McGregor charged across the stage and stared at the lightweight champion but he got a funny response from Alvarez, who just started laughing in his face.
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Alvarez is no stranger to the customary pre-fight stare downs that are typically highlighted by stoic faces or a lot of bad words being exchanged, but this time he just couldn't wipe the smile off his face.
“He's the least intimidating man I've ever met. The least,” Alvarez said about McGregor on the Fight Society podcast. “I've never been face-to-face with a man and my heart rate has not gone up or something I felt inside emotionally, that has never happened to me until I was on stage at the press conference at Madison Square Garden where I literally felt nothing.
“I felt the least threatened in my life.”
Now some of that might sound like Alvarez is just trash talking McGregor, but he promises that unlike his face offs with fighters like Gilbert Melendez or Anthony Pettis, his heart didn't race and he never felt like the guy standing across from him was a threat to his title.
That might sound like Alvarez is disregarding McGregor, which could obviously cost him on Saturday night, but the lightweight champion promises that he's been preparing for this bout just like all the others he's had in the UFC.
Still, Alvarez acknowledges that McGregor doesn't belong in the same conversation as some of the other top lightweights he's faced throughout his career.
“I never prepare according to how I feel for a fight. I always prepare to be a better me. I never take a round off or a run off or a pushup off, that's just not in me. I couldn't do that if I wanted to, but I'd be lying to you and the whole public if I told you Conor McGregor was the most dangerous opponent I've ever come up against.
“I'd be bald faced lying to you. The opponent I had before him (Rafael dos Anjos) was much, much harder. He had many more dimensions and that's just how I feel.”
Alvarez can't look into a crystal ball to see how the fight with McGregor will play out, but he finds it laughable that the featherweight champion has been predicting a first round knockout ever since that press conference to announced their fight.
While McGregor promises a devastating finish, Alvarez counters by saying that he can't see a single area where the Irishman out guns him on Saturday night.
He was complimentary enough to say that McGregor definitely has weapons in his arsenal, but nothing the Irishman does is better when Alvarez compares it to his own skill set. That's why he believes his fight with McGregor will definitely be lopsided but Alvarez will be the one walking out with his hand raised.
“He does things well, he has his strengths, but they're nothing that good preparation can't negate. There's not a single strike that good preparation can't negate,” Alvarez said. “I was never the most technical, I was never the best at one aspect at this sport, but what I was always good as was negating people's strengths and putting them in terrible situations where they're uncomfortable.
“That's what I pride myself in and I think that's what the fans have to look forward to. A completely dominant performance on my end and him not being able to use anything he's strong at.”
His fight at UFC 205 will serve as the first title defense since Alvarez won the belt in July, but despite the magnitude and attention being paid, McGregor isn't a top five or even top 10 ranked lightweight.
What Alvarez gets out of fighting McGregor is a big payday for facing the most profitable fighter in the sport while also silencing all those people who kept asking him about a potential matchup with the featherweight champion after winning the title.
“What it does it lets the media never ask me about this guy again,” Alvarez said. “Every time I beat someone, who I actually think is one of the best guys in the world like a Rafael dos Anjos or a guy like Anthony Pettis, Gilbert Melendez, when I actually beat one of the top ranked guys who consistently been ranked in the world throughout their whole careers, all I constantly get asked about is this guy.
“It's really for me, it just answers the question the media keeps asking me and I'll never be asked about him again. I think that's worth it to me just in that to fight him so I can appease your curiosity.”