ByDan Henderson, writer at Creators.co
Official Creators profile of Dan Henderson. Former Pride Fighting Championship and Strikeforce champion. Instagram @danhendo
Dan Henderson

UFC 205 is stacked with some really great fights, but there are three I plan on talking about with you guys and gals this week—the title bouts. I’ll be taking a different approach than most, in that I’ll be giving a double breakdown here in this first post, and saving my favorite championship fight—Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson—for its own blog post.

Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez

Eddie Alvarez is the type of fighter with style that I think is necessary to beat McGregor. Basically, anybody that has good stand-up and a wrestling base has a really good chance of beating Conor.

Conor McGregor: Striking Key Notes

  • Power—and it extends all the way to his fingertips. He can wing a counter and just barely graze an opponent with it, yet still do a significant amount of damage.
  • He’s very precise, often finding his mark like a heat seeking missile.
  • He has great timing, and can read his opponent very, very quickly, which is why his precision is on point.
  • His footwork is extremely good and he uses his angles well.
  • I’ve spoken in a previous blog about his use of the high kick to lure his opponent in so he can hammer that counter left when they inevitably dive into the opening he intentionally created. IT’S A TRAP! PAY ATTENTION!

Eddie Alvarez: Striking Key Notes

  • Eddie has great footwork, too, but he takes a much more straightforward approach, and while his striking is effective, it’s not quite as slick and fine-tuned as McGregor’s.
  • He fights from an orthodox stance and is a pressure fighter that uses the cage well to dirty up the fight with hard knees and lots of boxing from inside a phone booth.
  • He’s heavy-handed, and if he gets within range, he’ll turn the lights off.
  • When he’s not turning your brain into soup from up against the fence, he’s perfectly fine in the plum clinch anywhere in the Octagon.
  • Eddie’s use of the clinch to wear out his opponent is very effective and it allows for cage control as a result.

The last facets of this bout come down to their gameplans. If Eddie works that excellent blast double of his, he can absolutely get this fight where it needs to be—on the ground. He’s very good from the top and has deadly ground-and-pound. If he uses his striking in the clinch to wear Conor out and get him down, the fight is all but in the bag for Alvarez.

For Conor to win, he’s going to have to use his excellent footwork and not plant too much to throw those heavy shots. He’s shown that he’s got power from angles, countering—virtually anywhere, but he’ll do best in this fight by picking Eddie apart from the outside. He needs to stick and move, and only commit to those big, planted shots when he’s set Eddie up with a feint or that leg kick lure. Constant movement is the ticket for McGregor. When Conor does get taken down, he will need to get back to his feet quickly just as he has done a good job with in past fights.

Who am I picking, you ask? Eddie Alvarez. Conor is a slick striker, but his wrestling hasn’t come along enough for me to comfortably pick him against a guy that’s heavy-handed and has a great wrestling base.

Joanna Jędrzejczyk vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz

This one is a little shorter because I’m not as familiar with Karolina as I am with Joanna. I’ve seen just one of her fights, and am not as well-versed on her history before the UFC, so for the purpose of this breakdown, I’ll just focus on the champ.

Based on what I’ve seen of both women, I’d have to give this one to Joanna. She moves well, she’s always in great shape and her striking is one of the most technically sound in the UFC, not just in her weight class or even just from the women’s divisions.

  • She throws amazingly crisp, tight shots that find their mark at an insanely high percentage. I believe I heard or read somewhere that she set a record for strikes in one of her fights.
  • Her kicking game is equally impressive, but being a former kickboxer and Muay Thai champion, you kind of expect that, so no surprise there.
  • She’s got good defense in her stand-up, and doesn’t take much damage. She keeps her chin tucked and her arms up, even in the late rounds.
Joshua Dahl/USA TODAY Sports
Joshua Dahl/USA TODAY Sports

Now, this is where things are going to get tricky. While her stand-up defense is great, her takedown defense might be the only part of her skillset that leaves an opening. She’s been able to defend herself on the ground, but there have been times where she’s been threatened with submissions against Gadelha. However, she handled herself well, and really put an exclamation point on her improvements from fight to fight after her rematch with Claudia.

To be honest, unless Karolina is some spectacular submission specialist that has yet to reveal herself—unless she’s been saving that for this particular fight, I don’t see her having much of a chance against someone as dominant as Joanna. For me, the champ is the obvious choice here.