Eddie Alvarez has given the world an insight into what it is like to be inside the octagon with Conor McGregor ahead of UFC 229 this weekend.
Fight-week has well and truly taken hold and with such a massive occasion set to get underway on Saturday night, the MMA world has been inundated with fresh and interesting perspectives on what is being billed as the biggest fight in the history of mixed martial arts.
Speaking to Brett Okamoto of ESPN in a fantastic piece he published recently in which he spoke to some of Conor and Khabib’s past opponents, Eddie delved into the tactics McGregor employs to lull you into a false sense of security mid-fight.
“What was unique about fighting him, something I maybe haven’t felt before, was he has this calmness that kind of hypnotizes you into feeling calm, and safe.
“So, rather than going in there and moving like I normally do, I feel his calmness made me feel like, “Oh, I’m not in danger. He feels fine, I feel safe.” He does this good job of hypnotizing you into this relaxed state, and then striking quickly.”
On the subject of Conor’s strengths, which are, of course, well documented, Eddie explained how his relaxed style of counter-punching is timed perfectly to hit you at the moment you yourself are least expecting to be hit.
“He likes to punch on punches. Whenever you punch as a fighter, you’re not bracing to absorb a punch. A lot of really good knockouts, not just in MMA but in boxing as well, come when a fighter punches on his opponent’s punch.
“When I’m attacking, it means I’m thinking about hurting a guy. I’m not bracing for a shot. He punches on punches well.
“And he has a unique, relaxed speed. It takes you a round or two to feel that.”
As for his own prediction, Eddie seemed to be just as torn as the rest of us – citing Khabib as a man who has a style that is tailor-made to defeat the Irishman. Conor’s speed and accuracy, however, could be the difference in his book.
“Khabib has the exact style to beat him, but when I think about the fight, he’s not going to be able to take too many shots at a takedown because he’s going to realize the speed of what’s going on.
“I don’t think Khabib is that fast. I think that’s going to be a big factor in this fight: the speed difference. Comparably, Conor is much, much faster.
“It’s a true pick ’em. If Khabib implements his wrestling, he’ll win — but if I had to pick, I would probably have to go with Conor. A lot of that is based on what I saw in Khabib’s last fight with Al Iaquinta.
“Him just shooting the same single leg over and over, not mixing it up. He was making way too many defensive mistakes. Against Conor, you have a small margin for error.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena