If a mixed martial artist wants to make it in the UFC's lightweight division, don't expect them to be taking too many days off.

It's the deepest division in the world's premier MMA promotion, and the talent pool only continues to stack up.

Eddie Alvarez has been a part of it since 2014 and said it's always been that way.

"Your average man is around our weight," Alvarez told the Herald. "It's right in the middle of strength and speed."

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Breaking into the rankings in any division is tough, but that goes up a notch in the 155-pound (70kg) division. It took four dominant performances for Kiwi Dan Hooker to scratch into the top-15 of the division, but it should see him rewarded with his first bout against a ranked fighter.

While the division is deep, to fight against a ranked opponent you generally need to be ranked yourself.

"If you want to hold your spot or become one of the top guys, there's not much time for a day off," Alvarez said.

A former UFC lightweight champion and current No.3 in the division, Alvarez (29-5-0) was looking to stake his claim to another title shot when he squares off against fellow American and No.4 ranked lightweight Dustin Poirier (23-5-0) in Calgary on Sunday.

Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier both landed some heavy shots the last time they met. Photo / Getty Images
Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier both landed some heavy shots the last time they met. Photo / Getty Images

The two fought out a no contest at UFC 211 in May 2017, with the bout brought to a halt after Alvarez committed an "accidental foul" – landing with his knee when Poirier was downed. It was on track to being one of the bouts of the year and fans have been awaiting a rematch ever since.

"We turned it up," Alvarez said of their first encounter.

"Our styles match up well ... it lends itself to being a fan friendly match."

The pair fought the same opponent in their last bouts; both beating No.7 ranked Justin Gaethje by knockout. Alvarez is quick to point out: "I did it quicker."

Should Alvarez get the better of Poirier in Calgary, he'll be eyeing a shot at current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov who won the then-vacant belt in a bout against No.10-ranked Al Iaquinta. The Philadelphia native has a fair claim to a title shot, too.

"I'm doing something no one is doing; fighting the top most dangerous guys back to back to back," Alvarez said. "Even Khabib, to win the title he beat the No.10 guy."

"I don't think there's any other viable opponent."