Eddie Alvarez blew it on Saturday night.
The Kensington native was fighting Dustin Poirier in a much-anticipated 155 pound rematch, 14 months after we were left with a “no contest” decision in the first go-round after Alvarez landed illegal knees while Poirier was grounded. That brought to a complete halt one of the better fights I had seen at that point in 2017.
So it was disappointing this weekend when Eddie, holding an advantageous full mount position and looking strong in round two, broke the rules again, this time throwing a pair of “12-6” elbows that caught Poirier on the shoulder:
Photo credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
See how the elbow is coming straight down in that photo? That’s called a “12 to 6” because if you think about a clock, you go straight from 12 to reach 6. It’s illegal in MMA. All elbows have to be thrown from an angle and can’t be thrown vertically like that.
Here’s the video, also featuring an illegal wet willy:
UFC Calgary Highlight. Not only did Eddie Alvarez do 2 12 to 6 elbows but he stuck his finger in Dustin’s ear. Proof https://t.co/cDkMFhrYq9
— Hank Smith (@hanksmith209) July 29, 2018
Referee Marc Goddard saw the elbows, stood up both fighters, and Alvarez caught a flurry from Poirier and ultimately lost the fight later in the same round.
Goddard explained afterward that it was actually a combination of fouls that resulted in Alvarez losing position:
Mr Usman, I understand that emotion is a factor. Mr Alvarez held the fence, clawed the ear & then threw the 12-6 elbow that is why the positional advantage was taken away. As for your request, no problem that’s easily arranged. I wish you all the best in your career. Thank you. https://t.co/x3GoCEkLqi
— Marc Goddard (@marcgoddard_uk) July 29, 2018
It is what it is. Some people like the 12-6 rule and some don’t, but it controversially pops up every so often. Jon Jones was disqualified for using the strike in what ended up being the only loss of his career.
This was Eddie’s last fight of his UFC contract, and it was a sour note for the 34-year-old to end on, with two controversies coming in his last three matchups. He had won 6 of 7 fights before losing his lightweight title to Conor McGregor back in 2016 and now has a no contest, a win, and a loss in the three fights since.
Alvarez might have been in line for another title shot had he beaten Poirier on Saturday night, with McGregor currently inactive and Tony Ferguson in and out of the picture with various injuries and other bad luck. Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has yet to defend his lightweight belt since winning it against stand-in Al Iaquinta back in April.
If Eddie does re-sign with the UFC, he’d probably be stuck in that 4-7 lightweight range for a bit. I think a Kevin Lee matchup makes sense, but there’s not many other guys down the list that jump off the page as possible opponents. Eddie has already fought Anthony Pettis. James Vick might be interesting. Edson Barboza is a teammate, so he’s out. If McGregor comes back and fights Khabib, I’d think Ferguson and Poirier might make sense, with Eddie on the outside and looking in.
So I really don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve been disappointed in three of Eddie’s last four performances. He didn’t seem like himself in the McGregor fight. He threw the illegal knees in the first Poirier fight. I thought he was phenomenal in the Justin Gaethje fight and had it going again on Saturday before the 12-6 elbows landed.
And maybe the worst part was that coach Mark Henry seemed to be calling and even motioning for it, even though it’s clearly illegal:
It’s crazy to me that both coach and fighter don’t know the rule with 12-6 Elbows. Watch Mark Henry signal for Eddie to do it and then he went crazy that Eddie got Penalised for his egregious foul.
Ref was 100% right here! pic.twitter.com/Psxbeby2Hb
— Will Martin 🏴 (@WillMartinMMA) July 29, 2018
You don’t want the reputation of being a dirty fighter, and I don’t think Eddie is. I’m sure it’s very easy to get caught up in the moment, and since Eddie is a pretty gung-ho and violent fighter, he’s likely not 100% dialed in mentally when trading massive blows with an opponent. Sometimes you go into survival mode and you don’t even realize that you’re grabbing the cage, clutching another dude’s ear, or dropping bad elbows.
But it doesn’t change the fact that Eddie let himself down again, negating another great start with illegal and unnecessary strikes.