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UFC 205: What's Conor McGregor's biggest challenge vs. Eddie Alvarez?
2:59 | MMA
UFC 205: What's Conor McGregor's biggest challenge vs. Eddie Alvarez?
Monday November 7th, 2016

Everything you need to know about this weekend’s UFC 205 fight between lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and featherweight champion Conor McGregor. 

Overview

UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor has always been one for visualizing the future. While other Irish children dreamt of wearing the crest of their favorite soccer clubs, McGregor dreamt of wearing the three most-coveted letters in mixed martial arts—UFC.

But signing with and competing in the UFC proved a bit unfulfiling for McGregor, so the Irishman has set his sights on achieving what has never been accomplished before, holding title belts in two weight classes at the same time. For the record, only two fighters have won belts in two different UFC weight classes.

When McGregor left his prior promotion to step up to the biggest stage, he vacated a featherweight and lightweight belt. And as soon as he began stringing wins together in the UFC, his focus shifted to becoming the promotion's first two-weight champion.

Whether he can do so against Alvarez makes for good theater as the UFC holds its first card in New York.

McGregor reached this juncture by dispatching Jose Aldo in 13 seconds at UFC 194 to become the undisputed featherweight champion, He was set to move up in weight and challenge lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos for the 155-pound title at UFC 196, but an injury forced Dos Anjos out of the fight. Nate Diaz stepped in on short notice, going on to defeat McGregor and temporarily delaying the Irishman’s pursuit of history.

McGregor corrected that blemish on his record by defeating Diaz at UFC 202.

In the meantime, Eddie Alvarez got the lightweight title shot when Dos Anjos was healthy. Just under four minutes into the bout, Alvarez unleashed a flurry of fists, forcing referee Herb Dean to stop the fight, giving the UFC a new 155-pound champion.

Background

UFC 205 marks Conor McGregor's lightweight debut in the promotion. Most of his bouts have been at 145 pounds, with the lone two fights outside the weight class being against Nate Diaz at 170 pounds.

Many consider McGregor to be a more natural lightweight, which is the 155-pound weight class, and question whether he can continue to make the cut to 145 pounds, which is increasingly more difficult given the new regulations regarding weight cut. McGregor has fought at lightweight in other organizations before the UFC, so this isn't new territory for the Irishman, and while McGregor fought Diaz at 170 pounds, the Stockton native typically fights at lightweight in the UFC.

Eddie Alvarez is making his first title defense in an unprecedented super fight, a champion vs. champion bout on the biggest of stages—Madison Square Garden. It also will be just his fifth UFC fight.

When Alvarez defeated Rafael dos Anjos to win the strap, he immediately called for the winner of the UFC 202 showdown between McGregor and Diaz, privy to the financial windfall he would benefit from with a marquee opponent. Fighting McGregor in the main event of a stacked card at UFC 205 is exactly the kind of stage Alvarez wanted.

The UFC was more than willing to appease both McGregor and Alvarez by booking the super fight, giving the organization a historic and unprecedented main event for its Madison Square Garden debut. 

Tale of the Tape

 
EDDIE ALVAREZ vs. CONOR MCGREGOR
Jan 11, 1984 BIRTH DATE July 14, 1988
Philadelphia, Pa. BIRTH PLACE Crumlin, Dublin, Ireland
Philadelphia, Pa. FIGHTING OUT OF Dublin, Ireland
28-4 RECORD 20-3
155* WEIGHT 155*
69 in HEIGHT 69 in
69 in REACH 74 in
40 in LEG REACH 40 in

* Official weights announced at the weigh-in (Friday, 6 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)

Last Five Fights

 
ALVAREZ (28-4) MCGREGOR (20-3)
7/7/16 - Rafael dos Anjos - W TKO Rd. 1 8/20/2016 - Nate Diaz - W Majority Dec.
1/17/2016 - Anthony Pettis - W Split Dec. 3/5/2016 - Nate Diaz - L Sub., Rd. 2
6/13/2015 - Gilbert Melendez - W Split Dec. 12/12/2015 - Jose Aldo - W TKO, Rd. 1
9/27/2014 - Donald Cerrone - L Unanimous Dec. 7/11/2015 - Chad Mendes - W TKO, Rd. 2
11/2/2013 - Michael Chandler - W Split Dec.* 1/18/2015 - Dennis Siver - W TKO, Rd. 2

*- in Bellator

Other Numbers To Count On

1: Number of times, in 32 career pro fights, Eddie Alvarez has lost via TKO.

2.51: Conor McGregor's strike differential at 145 pounds, a record for the weight class.

6.02: Number of strikes landed per minute by Conor McGregor, a mark that is eighth-best in the UFC, according to Fightmetric.

7: Number of consecutive Performance/Fight of the Night bonuses.

13,500,000: The live gate record for a combat sports event at Madison Square Garden is $13.5 million, a boxing match between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield in 1999. UFC president Dana White said UFC 205 has surpassed that number, which would also set the promotion's own gate record, which was $12,075,000 at UFC 129 in Toronto, in a venue that held over 55,000 fans.

Greatest Hits

Eddie Alvarez defeats Rafael dos Anjos to become lightweight champion:

Conor McGregor defeats Jose Aldo to become the undisputed featherweight champion:

Matchup

McGregor and Alvarez are tough and tested fighters, who like to strike. That being said, this fight could be determined along the cage. 

Alvarez has found a safer and more conservative approach in his UFC run, changing levels, pushing opponents against the cage and going for the takedown. He used this method to great success against former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.

McGregor's ground game is still a point of concern for most pundits, but he has excelled at defending takedowns along the cage, including UFC 189 against Chad Mendes. In the middle of the octagon is where McGregor is more susceptible to the take down.

Meanwhile, endurance has to be a concern for McGregor, as he seemingly ran out of gas against Diaz in both of their fights. He needs to manage his energy efficiently, while at the same time attacking the body to chip away at Alvarez's gas tank.

For Alvarez, the key is getting McGregor to the mat. While Alvarez is a solid striker and certainly capable of exchanging with McGregor, Alvarez can rely on his wrestling to control, frustrate and wear down McGregor.

The odds

McGregor is the favorite, but not by a lot. Various books have McGregor’s moneyline around -150 (bet $150 to win $100). This is likely because betting lines are shaped, in part, by betting patterns, and McGregor is the more popular and famous fighter. The line on Alvarez is around +130 (bet $100 to win $130) among various sportsbooks.

Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is an underdog in his first title defense, with an average moneyline of +170 (bet $100 to win $170) amongst various sportsbooks. Stephen Thompson, the challenger, is around a -200 favorite (bet $200 to win $100) amongst various sportsbooks.

Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is the biggest favorite in the title fights, with an average moneyline of -370 (bet $370 to win $100) amongst various sports books. Challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz has an average money line of +295 (bet $100 to win $295), amongst various sportsbooks.

Prediction

The cage is where this fight will be determined, and while we shouldn't expect a quick dispatching of Eddie Alvarez like Conor McGregor has predicted, we can expect McGregor to avoid the take down along the cage and use the front snap kick to chip away at Alvarez's conditioning. Alvarez has a tough chin and can weather some of McGregor's shots. Expect this one to be similar to the UFC 202 fight with Diaz. McGregor by decision.

Fighting Words

“You ain’t got a [expletive] shot. Tell him the truth. You ain’t got a shot. Your coach knows you ain’t got a shot and anybody who knows anything about fighting knows you ain’t got a [expletive] shot.

“You’re here because you’re the easiest dude in this division. That’s why you’re here.”

-- Eddie Alvarez at the UFC 205 press conference

"He's claiming it's an easier contest. I look forward to when the eyes shift, when the eyes roll, and the electric shock goes through his whole body and he goes to his knees and then he comes up and he's in survival mode and that panic sets through his whole body, his whole face, that's something that I look forward to. I will punish him for that, for those words that he's saying. I'm going to retire him on this night”

-- Conor McGregor on the UFC 205 conference call

The Rest of the Card

(C) Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson (welterweight title fight)
(C) Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (strawweight title fight)
Yoel Romero vs. Chris Weidman
Donald Cerrone vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Raquel Pennington vs. Miesha Tate

(C) - denotes champion

Fox Sports 1 Prelims (8 p.m. ET): Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Michael Johnson, lightweight; Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens, featherweight; Rashad Evans vs. Tim Kennedy, middleweight; Vicente Luque vs. Belal Muhammad, welterweight.

Fight Pass Prelims (6:30 p.m. ET): Thiago Alves vs. Jim Miller, lightweight: Tim Boetsch vs. Rafael Natal, middleweight; Liz Carmouche vs. Katlyn Chookagian, bantamweight.

Preliminary card (8 p.m. ET, FX): Daniel Sarafian vs. Kiichi Kunimoto, welterweight; Valerie Letourneau vs. Elizabeth Phillips, women's bantamweight; Yves Jabouin vs. Mike Easton, bantamweight; Kajan Johnson vs. Tae Hyun Bang, lightweight.

Online prelims (7 p.m. ET, UFC Fight Pass): Roland Delorme vs. Michinori Tanaka, bantamweight; Jason Saggo vs. Josh Shockley, lightweight.

Programing notes

The card will be broadcast across three platforms: Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET), Fox Sports 1, (8 p.m. ET) and pay-per-view (10 p.m. ET). Mike Goldberg will handle the play-by-play during the broadcast while Joe Rogan adds analysis. Brian Stann and Michael Bisping will be on the desk with Jay Glazer for the post-fight show.

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