Five days have now passed since Conor McGregor shook up the world and dethroned then-lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez in completely dominant fashion with a 2nd round TKO finish at UFC 205. McGregor’s amazing performance will be remembered for years to come, but the former-champion Alvarez still believes a lot of it was down to his own poorly executed gameplan.
It was about as close to a flawless performance as you can realistically get in the sport of mixed martial arts. Conor was fluid, composed and never looked in any danger throughout the fight’s short run-time. Alvarez on the other hand, was a sitting duck for most of the bout, absorbing left-hand after left-hand until his extremely durable chin could take no more.
Not many can deny the effectiveness of McGregor’s striking in this matchup but in the eyes of Eddie Alvarez, much of the blame for how things went down still rests on his own shoulders. Speaking on Chael Sonnen’s “You’re Welcome” podcast, Eddie broke down the fight from his own perspective, giving praise to Conor’s skillset as well as a grounded critique of his own performance.
The left hand of McGregor was the key difference on the night, and like many before him, Alvarez did not shy away from giving credit where credit is due to the newly-crowned dual-weight champion’s signature weapon.
“He doesn’t engage on it. He throws it off you so it’s the timing of it and I don’t even know, he might have landed to the back of my head. To be honest with you, with the first shot I had no clue what it was. I had no clue.”
Alvarez was dropped 3 times in the opening round, something that would take a toll on the confidence of any fighter competing at this level. McGregor asserted his dominance early on in this bout and now, looking back on the contest, Alvarez still seems bemused by the sheer speed of the Irishman.
“I got hit and my butt was on the ground and I remember thinking in my head ‘What the fuck was that? I had no clue what the first shot I got dropped with was but I think it was that I threw and he threw at the same time. It was basically throw-on-throw. I threw and he threw and I missed but his range was able to get me.”
Eddie began the fight with a few well-placed leg kicks but strangely decided not to use them as the fight went into its later stages. A lot has been made of the mental aspect of McGregor’s fighting and in hindsight, Eddie still seems unsure about how the well-defined game-plan himself and Mark Henry seemed to crumble almost immediately.
“What bugs me about the whole thing is that he didn’t do anything that we didn’t prepare for and I have no one to blame but myself about it and that’s what fucks me up about it and gets me angry. It would be easier if I could go back to my coach and say ‘You son of a bitch, you messed up and you didn’t tell me this was going to happen’. We literally got ready for all of this and I guess there’s a difference between knowing and doing. We knew but I simply didn’t execute.”
“The whole plan, the plan of this fight, if we had to sum it up. It was go left and mostly wrestle. Not wrestle all the time but put him in wrestling exchanges and put him where he’s uncomfortable. But I don’t know if it was after I got hit that I went into fight-or-flight mode, but I got hit and I went right and I boxed. I did the opposite of my plan.”
Many had pointed to Alvarez’s wrestling and clinch work as a possible key to victory this time around but as soon as McGregor achieved that first knockdown, it seemed to spell the beginning of the end for the Underground King. Each takedown attempt was stuffed with relative ease, and even when Eddie did bring the fight up against the fence, he could do little to nullify the offense of the heavy-handed McGregor.
Speaking on Conor’s lethal left hand, Alvarez was full of praise.
“He does it really well. He throws on throw and he also changes it up where he’ll let you throw, he’ll rock back and then he’ll counter. He does it all three ways. All three ways of engagement, he does it all three ways with that left hand and he does well with it.”
Eddie has never been one to shy away from a loss, and continuing on from there he spoke on how, regardless of the result, he felt as good as ever heading into that bout.
“It was the best time I’d ever had on fight week. Honestly, before we went out even my coach Mark Henry, our warmups in the locker room just before we went out to make the walk were probably the best I’ve ever looked. I was confident. When I try to make sense of this whole damn thing, it’s really awkward to sit back and think about. I don’t understand what went on.”
You can watch the interview as broadcast on Chael Sonnen’s ‘You’re Welcome’ podcast, below.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena