By: Ryan McKinnon
Conor McGregor made history on Saturday night when he beat former
lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez to capture the title and be the first fighter in UFC
history to hold two belts simultaneously. Conor silenced more of his critics when he
TKOʼd Alvarez, something that an opponent hasnʼt been done since Nick Thompson in
2007. Madison Square Garden attendance records and UFC PPV numbers were
broken in basically every category. However it was Eddie Alvarezʼs ego that was most
visibly damaged that evening.
In a post fight interview, Eddie Alvarez admitted that he didnʼt obey the game
plan he and his coaches created for Conor. Watching the fight, you could see that Eddie
started with leg kicks, and then abandoned them almost immediately. When he
attempted to change levels, he missed huge opportunities to wing one of his patented
overhand rights as Conor dropped his hands in preparation for the takedown attempt.
As Conor began landing big counter punches and winding front kicks to the body, Eddie
stopped changing levels, and when he did, they were sloppy. He got sucked into
Conorʼs game plan, and attempted to fight him on his level. Bad idea. Eddie doesnʼt
have the same caliber of timing and speed as Conor. He fought Conor much like how
Conor fought Nate Diaz in their first encounter. Never in a title fight did someone make
his opponent look like an amateur than what Conor did to Eddie. Alvarez would have
been the much wiser and more disciplined fighter if he obeyed the famous words of
Randy Couture, “Impose your will.”
There is something to be said about the mental faculties of Alvarez. Itʼs highly
likely that Alvarez thought he was going to beat Conor handily. The smack talk leading
up to the fight most likely angered Eddie, which fueled his intentions to KO the
featherweight champion. It was probably after the first knockdown of Alvarez that had
him second guessing his chances of putting Conor away easily. When you believe
100% that the guy youʼre fighting doesnʼt deserve to be in the cage with you, the
sobering moment of truth that challenges your beliefs can have drastic effects on your
mentality. It is at this point when Eddie may have started to panic, and completely cast
aside his game plan.
It only took Conor 1 minute to time Eddieʼs right hand, and put him to the mat by
throwing two left hooks. There was absolutely no setup behind the punch, and Conor
took full advantage. Youʼll notice that Conor was focused intently on Eddieʼs center of
mass, and not at his shoulders. It took almost exactly another minute for Eddie to make
the same mistake, and for Conor to employ the exact same technique. About 15
seconds later, Conor throws a cross, then a lead to get Eddieʼs head moving to his left.
At this point, Eddieʼs feet are planted, and his upper body is lowered, leaving him with
little mobility. Conor exploits this by throwing another left straight that puts Alvarez on
his butt, with his back to the cage. In hindsight, it would have been smarter for Eddie to
roll with the slip, instead of leaving his head stationary. Conor calmly engages Eddie on
the ground and gets in a few good shots, then backs away to continue the standing
assault. The rest of round 1 sees Eddie moving left into Conorʼs power, allowing Conor
to land a few left hands, and body kicks to keep Eddie just within striking distance.
In round 2, it took 30 seconds for Conor to defend a jab cross combination from
Alvarez, and return a combination of his own. If you go back and watch the exchange,
youʼll notice the difference in footwork between the two fighters. When Eddie throws his
1, 2 (jab, cross), Conor glides backward with his feet planted under his hips, in a
balanced stance, upper body erect. This puts him in an advantageous position to return
the exact same combination. When Conor throw his hands, Eddie doesnʼt glide out of
range. Instead, he leans his upper body backward, away from his center of gravity,
which makes it impossible to move his feet and get away from danger. Conor effectively
lands the combination because of Eddieʼs lack of mobility.
Eddieʼs lack of striking ability compared to Conor is most noticeably exemplified
at around 3:30 of round 2. He throws 3 left/right combinations in a row (lead uppercut +
right hand, feints the jab + right overhand, left pushing hand + right hook), but barely
uses his jab as a setup. Also, his feet are square, and not moving with Conor. Conor
calmly and wisely circles to his right, away from Alvarezʼs power, and takes every power
right hand off his shoulder or head. Moving away from Eddieʼs power ensures that the
force of the blow is diminished even if Eddie makes contact with McGregorʼs head.
Eddie attempts basically the same combination 10 seconds later. This time Conor ducks
the wild hooking right hand, and plants a left hook of his own behind Alvarezʼs right ear.
Alvarezʼs night came to an abrupt end at 2:01 of the second round when he
strangely rotates his upper body into somewhat of a southpaw stance, but leaves his
feet in an orthodox stance and throws a weak lead right hand that Conor counters with a
strong left hook over the top that lowers Eddieʼs head and makes it a prime target for
the rear uppercut. Conor lands a left straight and a right hand that puts Eddie on the
mat, only to have Big John McCarthy stop the fight shortly after. Once again, Eddie left
himself extremely vulnerable to Conorʼs power left straight when he threw the right jab
because he had nothing to protect himself with afterward. Also, Eddieʼs left hand was so
far back, Conorʼs right uppercut found itʼs mark easily.
Alvarez was foolish to engage in a striking war with the southpaw. He was outclassed in all
aspects of the fight, and never created an opportunity for himself to score a takedown. It
will be a long road for the former champ to meet the Irishman again in the cage, and
after a loss like that he might be mentally scarred, which will prove advantageous for
Conor should they ever meet again.