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UFC 205: Why Eddie Alvarez Beats Conor McGregor

UFC makes its triumphant debut in New York with one of the biggest cards in the history of MMA. And the company has booked the best main event possible, as Eddie Alvarez will aim to defend his UFC lightweight title against featherweight champion Conor McGregor.

McGregor is easily the biggest thing in MMA right now, potentially ever, but this fight is not going to go his way. Bruce Buffer will be saying “And Still” at the end of the event as Alvarez emerges victorious. Here is why “The Underground King” is about to rise to the top.

Those Hips Don’t Lie

We all know that Alvarez is an old-school breed of fighter. He utilizes a strong wrestling game to dictate fights – that’s not to say he is a slouch in the standup game. It’s this strong wrestling base that will be his best path to victory against McGregor.

McGregor has never faced a wrestler with the size and skill of Alvarez. McGregor has worked on his takedown defense after being submitted in his first fight with Nate Diaz, but Diaz is far from a great wrestler. You could see in the second McGregor-Diaz fight that when Diaz went for a takedown along the fence, his hips were far too high. Wrestling is about leverage and Diaz rarely had the proper leverage. That’s not to say McGregor didn’t have an impressive showing defensively, but you need to put it into context.

The one truly skilled wrestler McGregor has faced was Chad Mendes at UFC 189. Though Mendes came into that fight on extremely short notice, he went 4-for-7 on his takedown attempts. That was due to his technique and hip positioning.

Alvarez is a tenacious grappler who suffocates his opponent along the cage and fights for takedowns. You could see this in his bout with Anthony Pettis, as Alvarez went 6-for-15 on takedown attempts. His constant pressure and doggedness in the grappling game ensured he picked up the victory in that one. And if you go back and watch that fight, you will see Alvarez is always working for leverage, which means getting your center of gravity lower, which means lowering your hips.

McGregor works best in space, which Alvarez is not going to allow him to do. Eddie will push the fight to the fence and chase the takedown until he gets it. Then, it’s his domain.

Mark Henry’s Game Planning

There was a time when Alvarez was a wrestler with one power punch, but that is not the case anymore. “The Underground King” has seen his striking game grow by leaps and bounds in recent years and that culminated in his title bout with Rafael dos Anjos.

In that bout, Eddie was able to stifle RDA’s aggressive pace with feints and fakes. His constant head movement and speed left dos Anjos swinging at air. That movement ultimately left RDA open to strikes, which were all crosses and uppercuts, as Alvarez knew that his opponent would leave himself vulnerable to shots from different angles.

Though the credit goes to Alvarez for implementation, a portion of his growth in striking belongs to Mark Henry. Henry is one of the best striking coaches on the planet and excels at game planning like few others ever have. Henry pores over film of his fighter’s sparring sessions as well as the upcoming opponents to create a fantastic game plan that puts his guy in the best position to succeed.

McGregor’s Unsustainable Pace

We all know how McGregor vs Diaz I went, with the Irishman pouring on heavy pressure early only to gas out and get choked. McGregor took preparations to work on this for his second encounter with Diaz and though his cardio was better, you could still see him visibly breathing during the second and third round.

Fighters generally fall into two camps in regard to cardio: the ones who just go for it and gas themselves out and those who pace themselves consistently throughout the fight. That’s not specifically to say one is better than the other, as either one to an extreme is a poor method, but it’s a fact. McGregor falls into the latter, as he has large times of output, which requires him to take rest periods to replenish. 

This is not a style that will work against Alvarez. Eddie is able to consistently push forward with aggression through all five rounds and has done so throughout his career. I have no doubt that McGregor will likely win the first round, but he will need to slow his attack to regain his strength after a fast start, which will be the perfect opportunity for Alvarez to attack. We saw it in his last fight against dos Anjos: when Alvarez senses his opportunity to finish, he will empty the cardio and overwhelm his opponent.

As always, Joe Osborne disagrees with me and is taking McGregor to beat Alvarez. You can check out his reasoning here. 

UFC: Conor McGregor vs Eddie Alvarez Odds

Odds as of November 12 at Bovada

  • Conor McGregor -140
  • Eddie Alvarez +110