Eddie Alvarez handled himself with class when asked to give his impressions from what will have had to be an incredibly difficult loss to take.
Speaking to Megan Olivi on Fox hours after relinquishing his title to Conor McGregor, Alvarez admitted he was overwhelmed by McGregor's timing and speed, and cut the figure of a man that didn't know what hit him.
But what was really interesting from that interview was Alvarez's suggestion that he was lulled into Conor McGregor's game:
Yeah he was just kind of relaxed, and I was like, alright it's gonna be relaxed, we'll do it that way. Almost got lulled into his pace, and got out of my own pace. Difficult job, hats off to him.
Conor McGregor's almost zen-like calmness during moments of immense pressure is not only a great help in ensuring he performs to his own potential, but it can also be detrimental to his opponent. You heard it from Eddie himself, it must be unsettling to see a man be as fired up and wild as McGregor was in the build up to this fight enter the octagon and suddenly seems like he's the outcome of the fight already. Like Bill Murray in 'Groundhog Day'.
It must be so difficult for a potential opponent to not let their emotions get the better of them. Think about it, you're fighting a guy that above all else you know is dangerous, the entire crowd cheer his every move and boo you simply for being there, you know full well that record breaking amounts of people are watching this fight.. And they're not watching because of you. Alvarez also admitted that he couldn't hear what his corner were telling him due to the noise.
Then couple in the fact that you're putting your title on the line, risking what you worked so hard to achieve. It's absolutely daunting, and the worst part of it is, as you get more and more anxious, you go have to go through the motions of being introduced and an obligation for Metro PCS that seems to take an eternity... And he's absolutely loving every second of it. Bruce Buffer is hyped, even he's on Conor's side now.
The way he claims the centre of the octagon is a statement that you are in his house. Welcome to the Conor McGregor show, it's real now. He has delivered on his promise to sell the fight and get all these eyes on you, now you have to perform.
You're nervous, but as you walk to the referee for the fighter instructions, he's ice cold. We saw it best with Jose Aldo as well as Alvarez, he knows you're feeling the pressure and he looks at you in an almost sympathetic way. He can't understand why you're not enjoying this as much as he is. You said you wanted it, what happened?
Every move Eddie Alvarez made once that fight started was tense. He stuttered around the octagon constantly moving like a ball of nervous energy. On the other side, Conor was standing in the middle of the octagon and being extremely conservative with his movements, and feeling about as rushed as an old lady in Nissan Micra on the N11. Then when he did move...
McGregor looked as if he thought he was sparring with Artem Lobov, only the eyes of John Kavanagh and Owen Roddy on him. Eddie looked like he had been sacrificed by the human race to fight the toughest boss on Mortal Kombat.
Nate Diaz is the only one who has yet to buckle under that pressure. His severe deficiency of fucks to give resulted in him relishing the chance to represent what he and his area stood for and show it to the world. He just wanted to throw down.
After he beat Conor in the first fight, Nate said that he was so calm out there because he had accepted the possibility of losing. He had envisioned defeat, and once he had done that he realised that it wasn't such a big deal. Fighters that cannot allow themselves to think about a negative outcome are adding a lot of pressure to perform.
The reason McGregor does it is because he knows that not only can he handle it, but he thrives on it, and he is gambling on the fact that you won't be able to adjust when it's your turn to see what it feels like. That's why people continue to be surprised by his performances, they don't see how difficult he is making it to fight at the best of your abilities. Every fighter other than Max Holloway, Nate Diaz, and Chad Mendes (for a round and a bit) were unable to fight.
It helps that he has the skillset to back up what he says, and then some, but it his complete and total comfort on the biggest stage, when the pressure is unbearable for most, that sets Conor McGregor apart from the rest.