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What would you say if someone told you UFC 211 boasted a pair of former world champions, both among the best to ever ply their trade, in separate bouts of considerable import?
Would you think they were main and co-main event? Would you think they were all over promotional materials and media, hyping hard to sell their bouts? Would you expect people to be clamoring to see them in action, knowing they were to witness excellence?
Or would you think they were buried on undercard bouts, lost amid surefire explosiveness in a heavyweight title rematch and a women’s champion on her way to cementing a legacy at 115-pounds with another title defense of her own?
It’s the latter, if you’re wondering.
Nick Catone UFC @NickCatone
Team prayer for @frankieedgar & @ealvarezfight finishing up camp. #ncmma @ufc #ufcdallas… https://t.co/E2gqUAvOoN
5/6/2017, 5:04:17 PM
Eddie Alvarez and Frankie Edgar, fighting prides of Philadelphia and New Jersey, respectively, head into battle Saturday night as two of the foremost purveyors of fistic fury the game has known, but they are afterthoughts in the construction of the card.
It’s a compliment to the UFC in a way, having these two greats so deep in the lineup that they’ve been largely ignored, but it’s also indicative of the need for fans to be made aware that a “y’all musta forgot” moment could easily be incoming.
Alvarez meets Dustin Poirier in a tilt that is guaranteed to produce fireworks, it being the former lightweight champion’s first foray back into caged chaos since Conor McGregor used him as a stepping stone to immortality.
While many may have been watching Alvarez for the first time on that record-setting night, there’s a narrative of him getting there that shouldn’t be forgotten. He was legitimately, undeniably great in the decade leading to that stage, and the loss once he arrived there doesn’t change that.
Poirier is talented and seems to finally be coming into his own as a lightweight, but an Alvarez on point is an Alvarez that goes through the Louisiana native far more often than not.
Should he do that, the enjoyable verbal crossfire he had with McGregor before their meeting and the general flux of the weight class at the moment might be enough to springboard him right back into a title shot (or, if one prefers, an interim title shot).
Not long after the world finds out what’s left of Alvarez, they’ll find out what’s left of his teammate Edgar. Another former lightweight champion and another who most would argue to be among the best to ever compete, Edgar will battle Yair Rodriguez in his first appearance since UFC 205.
He’ll look to show that he’s not ready to be a kingmaker for prospects just yet, landing his second straight win and moving to 6-1 at 145-pounds in the process.
Success now, with no one really looking or actively expecting anything, is to cash in on the highest of stakes, just as it is for Alvarez.
If Edgar wins, he’ll defy Father Time again and show his years of taking punishment at the hands of bigger opponents in the lightweight class haven’t yet caught up to him here, in the early days of his twilight. He might also get his name back into talks to fight Jose Aldo for a third time, and though everyone knows how those fights generally look, his ability to win and stay relevant remains admirable.
UFC 211 is a great card on paper. From top to bottom it’s full of big names and big fights, and it’s got people talking like no event on the thin 2017 UFC calendar has to this point.
On that card, propping it up and deepening it so impressively, is the forgotten greatness of Alvarez and Edgar.
Saturday night that greatness is apt to be quickly, and probably fiercely, remembered.
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