UFC 205 is looking like it will be the record-breaking card to end all others before it. They’ve front-loaded the event with three title bouts and a ton of other top rate fights. You must also factor in the super obvious elephant in the room, Conor McGregor is headlining the whole thing. That pretty much ensures that it will be a guaranteed hit machine.
This will be the card that UFC 200 should have been. While 200 was a great group of fights for the most part, the brilliance was dulled considerably when they pulled Conor and Nate from the card, and then Jones was pulled from it as well.
Now, Eddie Alvarez doesn’t have the kind of can slinging, water bottle launching history with Conor that Nate Diaz had, but from a purely technical standpoint, the fight is just as, if not more intriguing than the challenge Diaz presented.
I won’t say Conor is a one-trick pony, but he’s not as multi-dimensional as Eddie is, at least from where I’m sitting. Let me explain my mode of thinking here.
McGregor has a few tricks up his sleeve, and his team seems to always be working on a gameplan, but their plans always seem to be geared toward what his opponents bring to the table. I’ve always been from the “Close all the gaps in your own skillset and work on all aspects” school of thought. If you’re only working toward certain things your opponent may or may not do, you’re missing out on fine tuning everything you’re good at, as well as closing loopholes in your own game.
Conor is a counterpuncher primarily, and has serious power in that left. He often carries it low, inviting people in. He’s been cracked a few times because of it. It’s one of those risk-reward things, and obviously, he’s judged the risk to be well worth the reward.
His wrestling is good enough to keep himself off the ground against lesser players, but Eddie Alvarez has great wrestling. He’s a dominant guy and very controlling once he’s got you down. He’s much bigger than Chad Mendes, so I see Conor having a tough time if the fight goes to the floor.
Eddie also has power, and demonstrated that in his fight with dos Anjos. He’s also got great cardio, another area Conor hasn’t quite gotten a good grasp on.
Then there’s the experience edge. Eddie is a seasoned pro at being in long, grueling battles. He’s been in several five-round wars, where Conor has been in exactly one. Eddie’s fought through adversity quite a few more times than McGregor, and is always game to keep fighting, even when the chips are down.
I’m picking Alvarez to win for a couple reasons. If Conor were fighting RDA, the way it was originally planned, I probably would have chosen him, but Eddie has a lot of weapons in his arsenal, and is the more well-rounded fighter in my eyes.
The other reason I’ve chosen Eddie is because I feel a weird sort of kinship with him. We’re not friends or anything like that, but we share a common bond in that we both suffered through the Bjorn Rebney era of Bellator. That gives us a tiny, invisible bond, and it’s this bond that makes me hope for the best for him.