Eddie Alvarez: UFC negotiation tactics may be to blame for Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler delay

Eddie Alvarez has a theory on what’s delaying the Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler fight.

This year, McGregor and Chandler served as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 31, with the plan being for the two to match up in McGregor’s return fight after more than two years away from MMA. As of yet, that still hasn’t happened nor has the fight even be announced, leaving many to wonder what the holdup is. And Alvarez, who fought McGregor at UFC 205 back in 2016, has a theory based on his prior experience in a dealing with the UFC and McGregor.

“Me and you dealt with this, with Conor,” Alvarez said told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “… Nobody had any clue if I was fighting or when I was fighting, and we were all just trying to figure it out. Then I get a call from the boss himself, ‘Oh, you found out?’ Yeah, we found out. We found out when we’re fighting and who. I think they’re doing the same thing.”

Alvarez’s own experience with this came ahead of his fight with McGregor, where he was the defending lightweight champion and the UFC reportedly used Khabib Nurmagomedov as an alternative opponent to get Alvarez to accept the McGregor fight on the promotion’s terms. Ultimately, Alvarez did go on to fight McGregor, but he says this sort of strong-arm tactic is commonplace.

“That’s their play,” Alvarez said. “Their play is, we can’t just have two guys involved and know that they’re going to fight each other, because if they know that, now they have leverage to say, ‘Hey, I want this much.’ So they always get a third or fourth or fifth guy involved to beat your price down to nothing. [Laughs.] I think that’s what’s going on.

“Because if Mike Chandler knows he’s fighting Conor, if Conor knows he’s fighting Chandler, then the two have room to negotiate for that fight itself. So I think a third or fourth or fifth player is coming along that we didn’t hear about yet, so they both get beat down to nothing. Not beat down to nothing, but so they both don’t try to negotiate a dollar over what their contracts are worth. That’s what’s going on.”

At this time, it’s still unknown what is causing the delay in fight booking. McGregor officially re-entered the USADA testing pool this past October, meaning he will be eligible to compete again in April 2024, and Alvarez says he wouldn’t be shocked to see McGregor continue to delay any announcement, even if he plans on fighting soon.

“Conor, he holds the cards and he gets to say when it happens,” Alvarez said. “Look, if I’m Conor, I’m not telling my opponent when I’m fighting him either if I don’t f****** have to. I’ll let him know when I feel like it’s my time to let him know.”

McGregor last fought at UFC 264, where he shattered his leg in his trilogy fight against Dustin Poirier.

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