Last week we covered Frankie Edgar and Jeremy Stephens' fight at UFC 205. Now, we will cover how current featherweight champion Conor McGregor will move up a weight class to challenge lightweight titleholder Eddie Alveraz when the UFC makes its debut in New York City at Madison Square Garden.This fight will mark the second time McGregor has fought beyond 145 pounds. The first two fights taking place at the welterweight limit of 170 pounds against Nate Diaz where Conor went 1-1. Eddie Alvarez, meanwhile, will be making his first title defense having TKO’d Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight belt in July. Let’s take a look at some methods and strategies that each fighter might employ inside the octagon this Saturday.

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor’s style leans heavily on explosiveness. He will explode with his punches and kicks, and he does this with extreme accuracy. After knocking out Jose Aldo for the featherweight title, McGregor explained that it isn’t shear power but, rather, timing and precision that makes a great striker. His explosiveness coupled with timing and precision is what makes him such a dangerous opponent within the octagon. However, the explosiveness in McGregor’s style has a tendency to sap his cardio.

It is a very energy intense style of fighting which was exhibited and exploited by Nate Diaz in their two contests. In each fight, McGregor had early success, then ran into trouble midway through the second round as he began to gas and Diaz was able to capitalize. Conor’s cardio will be an important aspect to watch in this fight.

Eddie Alvarez

Eddie Alvarez could be the most well-rounded opponent to face Conor McGregor thus far. He trains under the superb Mark Henry and Ricardo Almeida and will bring excellent striking and grappling into the fight.

I think his wrestling could play a large role in neutralizing McGregor’s explosive striking. Alvarez has fought a similar opponent before in Anthony Pettis and was able to neutralize his dynamic striking with wrestling against the cage. This strategy will also go a long way in sapping Conor’s cardio. Another technique that Alvarez might find useful is the inside low kick. Against dos Anjos, Eddie was able to land several kicks to the inside of his opponent’s leg. Being that McGregor will often fight out of a bladed stance, he will likely be slow at checking the inside low kick.

Possible strategies

For Conor McGregor, he would do well to maintain a sustainable pace. As pointed out by Jack Slack, Alvarez will often throw a level change right hand to the body. If McGregor can counter this strike, he could land his favorite back-skipping left or an uppercut. Alvarez also has the tendency to brawl when his emotions compel him. If McGregor is able to bait Eddie into a wild brawl, Conor’s precision and timing should have the upper hand.

For Eddie Alvarez, he should keep his emotions in check avoiding wild brawls while still keeping a high pace.

He should look to push Conor to the fence and dig for a takedown. McGregor takes a lot of criticism for having bad jiu-jitsu. While it is wrong to say that McGregor is bad on the ground, it is not wrong to say that he is weak in particular aspects of jiu-jitsu. For instance, he spent a good portion of his fight with Max Holloway in top position and had great success, but Nate Diaz was able to mount him and take his back with considerable ease. Alvarez should look to exploit Conor’s defensive weaknesses on the ground.

If Alvarez can do this, he might be able to make it a rough night for the Irishman at UFC 205.

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