McGregor vs Alvarez: Conor's keys to victory

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Is Eddie Alvarez Conor McGregor’s toughest matchup to date?

UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor has overcome a lot of tough opponents throughout his career, but this weekend he will more than likely face his greatest challenge yet in UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.

(Image courtesy of Sherdog)

Alvarez is one of the most well-rounded fighters in MMA. Although he’s best known for his striking, he’s also a fantastic grappler. But if there’s one glaring hole in McGregor’s game, it’s his wrestling. Although McGregor has done well in his career at defending takedowns, many believe it is his achilles heel.

McGregor has only faced one wrestler in his UFC career, Chad Mendes. In the fight, Mendes (who stepped in on less than 2 weeks’ notice,) had a lot of success with in takedown department, landing four in the first two rounds.


McGregor vs Alvarez
UFC 205
Date: Nov 12, 2016
Venue: Madison Square Garden
Location: New York City
Title: Lightweight
Champion: Alvarez

Although McGregor was able to get back to his feet and eventually knock Mendes out, it may have been the first time in McGregor’s UFC career where he looked uncomfortable and was seemingly not confident.

After the Mendes fight, a lot of fans began to question what may have transpired if Chad (or any other grappler) had trained hard for a full camp.

In McGregor’s next three fights, he would face Jose Aldo and Nate Diaz twice. Both are excellent black belts in Jiu-jitsu but aren’t known for their offensive grappling, using it only when they have to. 

Aldo is a very good wrestler, and that was a big talking point heading into the fight against Conor, but it only lasted 13 seconds. We didn’t get to see Conor's response to Jose's wrestling prowess.

McGregor was submitted in the first fight but IT was not due to a takedown initiated by Diaz but rather by a takedown attempt by Conor which was reversed. Diaz is very anti-wrestling so we never got to see Diaz offensively and assertively apply any takedowns until the very end of the second fight, which McGregor easily defended.

In McGregor vs Alvarez on Saturday, Eddie is going to use his wrestling. It’s no secret, and it’ll be a huge factor in this fight if McGregor doesn’t defend takedowns early.

McGregor vs Alvarez: Conor's keys to victory

#1: Defend Takedowns, and early!

As stated throughout this article, McGregor has had some trouble with wrestling, and Eddie Alvarez is a very good wrestler. From the onset, Alvarez is going to shoot in for a double-leg and if he gets it, he just might keep him there the entire fight.

What happens in the first minute or so may be an idication of things to come. Look for Alvarez to shoot in for a takedown. If Conor defends it well, it may give him a massive boost of momentum, and the self-assuredness to keep the fight standing where he likely has the advantage.

#2: Keep composure: Like that old school saying, “You gotta keep you’re composure!"

Conor McGregor does not have the best cardio in MMA. It’s been a big problem for him, especially in the Nate Diaz fight. Against a guy like Eddie Alvarez who has been in some of the craziest battles in MMA history, you have to have top notch cardio, especially with Conor's perceived wrestling disadvantage.

#3: Capitalize on Alvarez’s defensive errors:
Alvarez often times puts himself in vulnerable striking positions that have left him on the canvas in the past. He has some bad repetitive habits that can be capitalized on; something McGregor is very good at doing.

If Alvarez makes even one error in this fight, it could cost him his championship.

This is a very winnable fight for McGregor, but if he can’t defend takedowns, stay composed and energized, he won’t even have the opportunity to put the fight in a position where he can win.

It’s absolutely essential that he performs all of these tasks.


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