An Irishman picking Conor McGregor to KO Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 might not sound particularly newsworthy, but Greg Loughran’s prediction carries a little more weight than most and his reasoning for the selection provides interesting insight.
Back in 2009, Loughran faced a then 25-year-old Alvarez in the quarter-final of a lightweight tournament at the inaugural Bellator event.
At that point Alvarez sported a record of 15-2, he held a decision win over the highly-regarded Joachim Hansen and had mixed it, albeit unsuccessfully, with Japanese superstar Shinya Aoki. Though Loughran had won 10 of his previous 11 fights, he had been campaigning primarily at a lower level than Alvarez. Thus, rather unsurprisingly, he went into the bout as a sizeable underdog against the touted Philadelphia native. The MMA records database at Tapology states that Alvarez was -950(almost 1/10) and Loughran was +600(6/1).
In the early going however, a perfectly timed counter left-hook from Loughran almost made a mockery of the odds. The shot badly rattled Alvarez as he recklessly launched himself toward ‘The Hitman’, and he did well to remain upright. The future UFC lightweight champion immediately and intelligently grabbed a hold of Loughran though, allowing himself enough time to recover.
Alvarez would go on to submit Loughran with 2 minutes and 44 seconds on the clock. Subsequent wins over Eric Reynolds and Toby Imada would see Alvarez crowned the tournament winner a couple of months later.
Loughran’s fleeting flirtation with victory may have surprised most observers, but the Derry fighter recently told Paul Dollery of the42.ie that he had spotted a defensive flaw in Alvarez prior to the bout and was looking to take advantage of it.
“He was the better fighter on paper, without a doubt, but I went in there feeling like I had a puncher’s chance,” Loughran said. “I knew his wrestling was very good so the gameplan was to stand with him. I had noticed in some of his footage that when he does throw punches he leaves his chin up.”
Fast forward seven-plus years and Loughran feels as though this same tendency will prove Alvarez’s undoing against Conor McGregor at UFC 205 in Madison Square Garden on November 12th
“I think McGregor will catch him with a big left towards the end of the first round,” said Loughran. “Alvarez leaves himself open to that. Then again, it’s MMA and anything can happen on a given night. But I can only see it going one way.”
The Alvarez of 2016 is undoubtedly a much improved fighter from the one that Loughran faced all those years ago, but the ‘Underground King’ seems to have retained this particular bad habit despite his progress. In his title winning effort against Rafael dos Anjos back in July, Alvarez became extremely reckless once he had the Brazilian reeling. Aside from winging dangerously wide, wild hooks with abandon, the powerfully built 32-year-old also attacked with his chin way up in the air begging to be checked.
Against a deadly counter-puncher like McGregor this tendency could certainly spell trouble for the champion.
We would highly recommend that you check out the full article on Loughran by the aforementioned Paul Dollery here, it’s an excellent read.