UFC 205 Main Event: Precision vs Power
November 12, 2016 represents a milestone event in the history of the UFC. After an unreasonably long campaign against a stubborn athletics commission, a culinary union, and crooked politicians, MMA has finally been granted passage into New York state, one of the biggest sports markets in the world. It took over 10 years to break through this obstacle, but the wait has been entirely worth it, thanks to an all-star fight card for UFC 205. Let’s start from the top down, beginning with Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez.
The Notorious Conor McGregor, aka Money McGregor, aka Mystic Mac, aka the biggest money maker in the history of MMA, looks to become a two weight class title holder if he defeats the hard nosed bruiser from Philly, Eddie Alvarez. This matchup is a lot more realistic for McGregor than his previous fight against Diaz at 170lbs. Fighting at 155lbs is more agreeable to Conor’s body type, and Alvarez is the type of fighter that McGregor usually has more success against. McGregor predicted a first round KO of Alvarez at the UFC 205 introductory press conference. It’s doable, but only if McGregor follows a few simple steps.
McGregor thrives in these big fights. His counterpunching works extremely well against hard hitters like Aldo and Alvarez. It’s like hitting a baseball. The pitcher and the ball do all the work. All you have to do is meet the ball with the bat. In McGregor’s case, if he comes into the Alvarez fight with the level of timing and precision we saw against Aldo and others, all he has to do is wait for Alvarez to commit to a big punch, and meet his chin with any one of his arsenal of punches.
Alvarez is less known to UFC fans, but very well known to MMA fans. He was a superstar in Bellator, capturing the lightweight title twice. He is also the MFC Welterweight Champion, and probably would have become the Dream promotion’s lightweight Grand Prix Champion had it not been for an injury. Die hard fans will always remember his 2 legendary fights against Michael Chandler for the Bellator lightweight championship. Watching those fights will show you just how tough Alvarez is. He can take a serious punch, and deliver some serious power of his own. His most recent fight against former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos is a prime example of his durability, and ability to deliver power, even when he’s taken big shots. He can change the tide of an entire fight with one punch.
Alvarez has more fight experience than McGregor, especially in title fight situations. This experience should help him when the spotlight shines on the two lightweights at Madison Square Garden. The drawback to all this experience is that Eddie has been in a lot of wars. His face is a puncher’s dream because of all the scar tissue that can be opened up. His Fight of the Year against Kawajiri for the Dream Grand Prix is one example. If you haven’t seen that fight, or any of his fights againts Chandler, go watch them now.
The second thing that can lead to a McGregor win is the gameplan of Alvarez. He is training with Mark Henry now, who is famous for training Frankie Edgar. Edgar’s last outing against Jose Aldo left much to be desired. He changed almost nothing in his approach to Aldo, which cost him the fight. If Henry and Alvarez don’t come up with something creative for the fight against McGregor, Alvarez will have a rough night. They need to consider Conor’s counterpunching, his speed, and his lack of defense on the ground. Watching Conor’s first fight against Nate should be on their playlist. Getting Conor winded before a takedown is the number one key to victory. Instead of loading up on big shots, Alvarez needs to work his way inside by beating Conor’s body, and slowing him down with leg kicks. Once Conor loses mobility, a takedown is much easier to score.
Much of Conor’s fights are won mentally before both fighters meet in the cage. Conor has an uncanny ability to get inside the heads of his opponents. Aldo is a prime example. Alvarez is his latest target. Conor correctly stated that Eddie is a wrestler with a right hand, plain and simple. His strategy for beating him is simple. If Eddie hopes to win this battle, he must not get sucked into Conor’s web. If Conor is to make UFC history, he must be aware that one punch from Alvarez at any point in the fight, will leave him staring up at the lights above the canvas, wondering if his shameless self promotion was all worth it.