We’ve had some time to take in what just happened at UFC 205. Now it’s time to take a closer look at what really happened in the main event – Conor McGregor vs Eddie Alvarez. It’s time for a breakdown!
On a superficial level, Conor McGregor completely dominated Eddie Alvarez. And yes, that is what has happened. But like anything worth doing, there is more to it.
It was Conor’s left hand that won the fight – as it has every single one if his. Once the first one connected, Eddie could feel that it had a lot of power and that it was accurate. Since McGregor uses his counter left when the opponent is advancing, which Alvarez as the fighter with the shorter reach had to do, he creates a hesitation in his opponent.
In fighting, hesitation is deadly. You often see coaches tell fighters to be more active. McGregor himself is famous for yelling at his team in the Ultimate fighter house to: “Be first.”
At a high level of fighting(or any other sport, but fighting is really where it is the most important), principles trump techniques.
The principles of being first does a few things. First of all, it puts you on the offensive. If you look at any of McGregor’s fights, he is always on the offence. That makes him the one doing, and the opponent the one who is reacting. Once the opponent is thinking more about how to defend your attack than how to implement their own game, the fight is half won.
Secondly, being first means that you are hitting your opponent – or giving them the opportunity to hit you. To a striker that is proficient both in his offensive and counter-offensive stand-up game, either one works. Either I hit you while you back up, or I hit you when you try to come forward. If your strikes are hard enough – and Conor’s are – they will make the opponent hesitant.
Hesitation is fear. The famous “Iron” Mike Tyson line: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,” is very apt here. Eddie seemingly abandoned his gameplan, which was to wrestle McGregor, and instead got into a boxing match. Yes, he did attempt a few takedowns in the open, which McGregor easily defended, and one on the fence, which was also stopped by McGregor. But not to the extend he should against a superior striker.
(a little side note: everyone who expected Eddie to take Conor down with ease in the open needs to do more research. Eddie isn’t a guy with a fast and strong double shot like Chad Mendes; he takes people to the cage and takes them down from the clinch.)
McGregor is the best today at imposing his game and building momentum. From the bell he is your face, giving you no time to adjust. Building momentum really is the key word here, as it encompasses everything we’ve talked about so far.
For Eddie to turn the fight around, he would have to do something to stop Conor’s offence, and he was unable to do that. Why – because Conor has perfect technique to go along the principles.
Here’s a good video discussing the technical aspect of his left counter:
It does appear that his peers aren’t on his level. Eddie Alvarez is a good fighter and a seasoned veteran, yet Conor handled him with ease. It also shows how tough Nate Diaz really is – he ate shots that knocked out the feather weight champion in Jose Aldo and now the lightweight champ all night long.
Another thing to add is the sheer magnitude of a fight against Conor McGregor. He has created a pressure bubble that only he experiences every time he fights – it is a new thing for his opponents. While it is easy to say that fighters who came from poverty and went through much worse won’t be flustered, we only have to take a look at the evidence. Aldo abandoned his gameplan and lunged straight into a counter. Alvarez was lulled into a boxing match and got outboxed. Pressure, in and out of the cage, appears to make otherwise smart people do silly mistakes.
In any case, Conor McGregor vs Eddie Alvarez fight will go down as one of the best performances of the Notorious. He is truly something special. And he knows he is, as he wants to have a share of the company to keep fighting. We will see…
Next two years, he could see about a billion.