But Alvarez also doesn’t believe Nurmagomedov should be recognized as the legitimate champion. In Alvarez’s mind, the UFC 223 bout between the Russian standout and 11th-ranked Al Iaquinta — despite the unique set of circumstances that led to the matchup with several potential opponents dropping out — should not have been a title matchup.
“If the Philadelphia Eagles show up for the Super Bowl, and New England can’t make it, you don’t bring in the third-place team to play for the Lombardi Trophy,” Alvarez said. “You have to wait and you have be patient. You can’t tell the No. three, four, five guys ‘you get a title shot.’ It just got silly real fast. Everything got silly real fast, and it made the belt quite meaningless.”
Great analogy by Alvarez. Dropouts in the UFC are quite a problem for the major bouts and finding replacement fighters only solves part of the problem. There’s still the aspect of the belt and who gets it. Sure you can let them fight with neither fighter winning or losing the belt, but this has the defending champ (or the challenging fighter) risking serious injury for no reward.
So what’s the alternative? Cancelling the fight and refunding all the PPV purchases? It’s a tough spot to be in.