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Eddie Alvarez’ road to the Land of Opportunity

Eddie Alvarez’ road to the Land of Opportunity

Kensington in Philadelphia is best known for the filming locations of both Rocky and Creed movies. Apart from that bit of Hollywood trivia, it is also the tough fighting neighborhood that shaped newly minted UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez to the man he is today. Born and raised right at the corner of Cornwall and G Street, Alvarez credits a lot of his character to his hometown, recognizing that circumstances would be completely different had he been from anywhere else.

“I think my biggest attribute inside and outside the cage is my ability to be resourceful – to find light where there is none, to be in a dark place and know that I’m still going to come out on top. I’ve been doing it at such a young age that it’s natural to me,” said Eddie Alvarez.

Growing up without many resources, Alvarez was forced to become resourceful at a very young age. With an imagination unlike most kids on his block, he chose to not be limited by his obscure upbringing, something that he compares to being like in the Elephant Graveyard from The Lion King. Sports was his way out and it translated to a respectful high school wrestling career that also presented him with opportunities to take it to the collegiate level. However, financial limitations forced Alvarez to abandon those plans and not long after he discovered mixed martial arts (MMA). The rest, as they say, was history.

Early on in his MMA career, Alvarez was able to find immense success in virtually every promotion he fought for. He established himself as one of the best fighters in the world outside the UFC and earned himself the unofficial nickname “The Underground King.” It may come as a surprise to many, however, that Alvarez never had the intention to make a career as a professional fighter.

Alvarez shares: “I look at this as an opportunity, not a career,” he says. “This was never a plan in the first place. I never wanted to fist fight for a living. It was something that I just started doing and I went with it.”

Back then, prize fighting certainly did not pay the bills as well as it does today but that did not matter to The Underground King, whose sole motivation was his competitive drive.

“I’ve been fighting for so long that it’s never been about the money and anyone who’s followed my career knows I just love it. There was a point in my career when I didn’t even know if the money aspect would ever happen,” recalls Alvarez. “The money is cool but the competitiveness of it is the coolest part. To be in a fight that millions of people are watching and everyone just wants to find out who the better guy is – that’s why I get up early and go to bed late.”

In 2014, Alvarez made his highly anticipated UFC debut and in just two short years, he shocked the world when he became the undisputed UFC lightweight champion, proving to MMA pundits and fans alike what he has always known: that he is among the very best in the world.

Since winning the title, Alvarez has already begun to enjoy a first class lifestyle. However, despite reaching the pinnacle of the sport, he attests that he will never forget his humble beginnings.With his wife and four children by his side, Alvarez has become a product of his own success and failures, and now it is time to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

“When I’m done with this, I’ll be the same guy that I am now. I know who I am and I’m not going to lose my head doing this,” attests Alvarez. “The money is a by-product of a lot of hard fought battles against the best guys in the world. It’s cool that it has manifested itself and we can show something for it. My wife, kids and I have been though a whole hell of a lot with this fight game so it’s pretty cool to see.”

Alvarez is now set to meet brash Irish superstar and UFC featherweight champion Conor “The Notorious” McGregor in the main event for UFC 205: ALVAREZ vs McGREGOR. Set to be the biggest card in UFC history, it is also the first fight event that the world’s premier MMA organization will hold in New York City. It will take place in none other than the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden.

“Three years ago, I came in the UFC and had a lackluster performance. Now we’re fighting in the biggest event in UFC history, in Madison Square Garden, in the East Coast – my home. Words can’t describe it. Walking around Madison Square Garden, walking around New York, it’s just hard not to get goosebumps,” marvels Alvarez who has gone through the unlikeliest of journeys in MMA.

A lot is certainly riding on the line for both combatants. For McGregor, he is looking to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two championship belts simultaneously. Alvarez, on the other hand, apart from defending his title for the first time, is on a mission to silence any more critics who doubt his claim as the greatest Lightweight fighter in the world.

Alvarez has made it clear that he does not believe McGregor offers much of a threat to him as compared to his past opponents. He remains confident as ever in his preparation, believing that he has the tools to derail McGregor’s hype train.

“I think technically, Conor’s a good fighter but after a certain point in a fight, technique doesn’t matter especially in championship fight. It comes down to your spirit and willingness to fight. I think that’s the main ingredient that makes a champion and I think that’s what he’s missing,” said Alvarez.

Alvarez is holding nothing back in training for what will be the biggest fight of his career. Whether it is his extensive fighting experience or well-rounded skillset that will play the biggest factor, there is nothing that seems to faze him or make him doubt that anything can stop him from having his hand raised in the end.

“I’ve had a lot of practice along the way. I know how to prioritize and make sure I’m doing everything I need to do to win the fight.”

While McGregor has held nothing back in the build-up as well, boldly claiming that he will knock Alvarez out cold, the UFC lightweight kingpin has made his feelings about McGregor abundantly clear since they first shared the same stage together.

“Usually when I square off with a man, my heart rate goes up. I feel something. I’ve never felt so unthreatened by a human being when I was up on stage with him. I’ve never felt so unthreatened by another man,” he said.

Only time will tell now who will seize the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

A photo posted by Eddie Alvarez (@ealvarezfight) on


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