The video doesn’t lie. Watch the replay of the first bout between Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, and in the second round, you’ll see Poirier land two left hands that leave Alvarez on the verge of being knocked out.
Alvarez stumbles around the Octagon at UFC 211, trying to regain his balance and fend off this trained killer who is looking to finish him. It’s the time of a fight that even the most cool, calm and experienced fighters may panic.
Alvarez, though, is a different breed than most. He’s been in some of the great fights of his time because he’s utterly fearless and somehow oblivious to pain and danger.
Alvarez and Poirier will rematch on Saturday in Calgary in the co-main event of UFC on Fox 30. Their UFC 211 bout ended in a controversial no-contest because of illegal knees. Alvarez figures it’s likely that the left hand Poirier threw that hurt him will at some point land again.
“Dustin has a good lead left,” Alvarez said. “He’s very precise with it. He does really well with it. He’ll probably land it again at some point in the fight, I’d imagine. He’s good at it.”
This is the point in the conversation where Alvarez shows he’s different than most of the rest. Most fighters in a similar situation would talk about the work they’ve done in the gym to improve, and to prevent being hit by that punch.
It’s a fight, though, and when you’re fighting an opponent who is one of the best in the world, it’s often not possible to stop it entirely no matter how much one tries. Alvarez isn’t going to stick out his chin and ask Poirier to hit him, but he’s not going to get worked up if he does, even if it’s a solid one.
Alvarez has been in the situation countless times before, down and on the verge of going out, and has not only survived, but rallied to win. His bout at Bellator 58 in 2011 with Michael Chandler is among the greatest bouts ever because of Alvarez’s relentless and utter disdain for his own physical safety.
“[Poirier] will probably land that again, like I said, but you know what? I don’t care,” Alvarez said. “I just don’t care. The difference between me and other opponents is that when there is a problem with a guy and they get hurt in a fight, they have a certain way they feel and they start to think about quitting and they at least get demoralized. You can see it and feel it, and it impacts what happens. Me, I don’t feel anything about anything.
“I don’t care if I’m winning or I’m losing; none of that matters. When that cage door shuts, I don’t have a thought or a care in the world about anything. That’s why I say, ‘Don’t bring the dog out in me,’ because if you watch a dog in a fight, there’s no thought about anything. The dog just reacts and keeps fighting as hard as it can. It’s just instinctual and he reacts, and that’s the kind of mindset I’m in.”
The first bout ended prematurely not long after Poirier landed those two left hands. The bout was well on its way to being the Fight of the Night, and perhaps Fight of the Year had it continued, when Alvarez landed two illegal knees.
The first came when Poirier had his hand on the mat and took a knee to the head. Texas was using the old unified rules, and it was illegal to knee the head if an opponent had a hand on the mat. On the second one, Alvarez kneed him behind the ear.
The two got along that night and embraced when the fight was stopped. Their thoughts on the ending differed after they saw the replays and particularly after Poirier heard Alvarez rip him for quitting on social media.
Poirier had a concussion and was unable to continue, but Alvarez has a different point of view after watching the replay and hearing the microphones pick up Poirier’s comments to the ringside doctor and referee Herb Dean.
“I’m a clean fighter and I play by the rules, inside and outside of the cage,” Alvarez said. “But at the end of the day, we’re in a fist fight. I’m simply trying to survive. I don’t have enough of a fight IQ to think to myself, ‘Oh, I’m losing, or I’m winning, and I should do this right now because these are the rules.’ That’s not what is going on in my head. I think it’s foolish to think I could assess things that quickly in the heat of the moment. But I think he’s just mad because I said, ‘Oh, you’re off the stool now.’
“When I went home and watched the film, deep down in my heart, I feel like he quit. I think he could have continued, but he quit and just tried to get his win bonus and move on easily. Think about this: He was conscious and clear on the stool. He said to Herb consciously and clear-headedly that there was something in his eye. That is what was said: ‘There’s something in my eye.’ Whatever was in his eye was done legally because right before, I caught him with a left hook and cut his eye wide open. But watch it and you’ll see I’m right. He consciously said, ‘There is something in my eye and I can’t continue.’ ”
Poirier disputes that vehemently, and the two will have the chance to prove who is the better fight on Saturday. But the one thing Alvarez says that anyone who has watched his career carefully understands is true is this:
“Only the two of us know what went on in that first fight, but that is the past and this is a whole new fight,” Alvarez said. “But there won’t be a single thing he can or will do to me that will demoralize me or discourage me. I don’t care about a single thing he does. He knows that about me and it is hugely demoralizing because someone like that is a hard and difficult person to fight. He has to put me away because that’s the only way he can win. We’ll see if he can do that.”
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