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Alvarez primed for fight of his life

By Associated Press in Philadelphia | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-11 07:15

Alvarez primed for fight of his life

UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez reacts to the crowd after his UFC 205 Open Workouts at Madison Square Garden on Nov 9, 2016 in New York City. [Photo/VCG] 

Eddie Alvarez waited to feel the magnitude of the moment as he stood eye-to-eye with Conor McGregor on a Madison Square Garden stage.

Hyping the biggest fight of his career, Alvarez wondered if nervousness would kick in as he stared down McGregor.

Or maybe anger. An adrenaline rush, something, that would sound the emotional bell inside his body that he shared space with one of the biggest names in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

He had listened to McGregor yap and boast with all the theatrics reserved for a daytime talk show, and when the time hit for the UFC 205 headliners to finally face off, Alvarez felt nothing.

"My heart rate didn't go up ... not two beats," Alvarez said on Wednesday.

"I was standing in front of that man and I didn't feel anything. I don't know what was going on. Maybe I was just off. But this guy made me feel nothing."

Trash talk? Perhaps, but the 32-year-old Alvarez insisted he had a detached demeanor because he viewed McGregor as just another victim on his roll call of champions that he will beat down for a win.

"I don't get caught up in names," Alvarez said. "I just fight."

His most pressure-packed fight yet - the one that could help launch Alvarez into McGregor-type paydays - is just days away.

Alvarez makes his first UFC lightweight title defense against McGregor on Saturday night at MSG in the promotion's return to New York for the first time since the state lifted its ban on mixed martial arts earlier this year.

McGregor, the Irish fighter with the brash public persona that made him one of UFC's top draws, is also the featherweight champion and has vowed to walk out of the cage with both title belts draped over his shoulders.

Alvarez has found the lightweight belt quite comfortable propped on one of his shoulders this summer in his native Philadelphia.

Alvarez has been a championship man about town, as he threw out the first pitch at a Phillies game or mingled with fans at a beer event appropriately named BrawlerFest.

Boxing legend Bernard Hopkins even tipped his cap toward Alvarez, offering congratulations on a banner raised outside the gym where he trained.

Alvarez might make history in New York, but he made his name in Philly fighting on streets, outside bars, even playgrounds, for any reason years before he became a settled family man and forged his way into the MMA cage.

"I never said I'm going to start fighting and I'm going to be the best in the world at it," Alvarez said.

"My mindset when I started was no one could beat me in a fight. I was 18 or 19 years old. You couldn't convince I could lose a fight. You just couldn't. I'd laugh at you."

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