For about a half hour, Eddie Alvarez had to have felt like the most hated man in New York.
Consider the scene Thursday at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, where the Philadelphia native was heartily booed every time he attempted to speak during a pre-fight press conference promoting UFC 205.
Credit the Conor McGregor contingent for that. Whether they were Irish or simply huge McGregor fans, that rowdy group did its best to drown out the lightweight champion. Alvarez was unfazed by the hostile environment.
“I’m prepared to completely destroy Conor McGregor and silence this whole damn crowd,” he said. “Thank you for coming.”
Shortly after Alvarez vanquished Rafael dos Anjos inside of a round at UFC Fight Night 90 in July, he called for a showdown with McGregor, claiming that it was a “gimme fight.” Eventually, his wish was granted, although negotiations appeared to be precarious at times. With the UFC 205 headliner on the horizon, Alvarez took the opportunity to needle the McGregor supporters.
“I’m half Irish. I’m disappointed in the country of Ireland right now that this is their representative.This is their representative,” he said.
“I don’t understand s—t they say, they’re from Ireland. I don’t understand a goddamn thing they say.”
It didn’t help that McGregor was late arriving to his own party. Alvarez responded in turn, briefly leaving the stage until the Irishman showed up after the press conference was well underway. The altercation that ensued shortly thereafter made for good theater. Pre-fight animosity aside, Alvarez is grateful for the opportunity to face McGregor on the stage that has been provided.
“I’m just glad to at Madison Square Garden, glad to be at home, glad to have the opponent I have in front of me,” he said. “I’m blessed right now. I’m on top of the world.”
Later, Alvarez took a picture of his hecklers, trading middle fingers with the group in the process.
“I love you guys,” he said.
Alvarez’s journey to the UFC was one that carried him through several promotions and many difficult opponents. According to Alvarez his coronation as UFC champion was part of his destiny. A brash opponent and some angry fans aren’t going to lessen his resolve
“I’ve always been the underground king of this sport. I’ve always been the UFC champion, whether I was here or not,” Alvarez said. “It’s just a matter of time before I got this belt, and no one’s gonna take it from me.”