The talking is done, weigh-ins complete and the stage is set. The UFC returns to New York tonight and sees Conor McGregor take on Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title.
In a matter of hours the featherweight champion takes on the rock solid Alvarez as he bids to make UFC history by become the promotion’s first simultaneous two-weight champion.
In the days leading up to tonight’s bout, McGregor has been enjoying himself. Press conference antics and backstage confrontations with Tyron Woodley, one might think the Irishman is anything but focused in the job at hand.
We have seen this all before however. The hard weeks of training are complete. The ‘Notorious’ one is now working through his repetoir of mind games. Make no mistake, in the octagon tonight, McGregor’s sole focus will be on Eddie Alvarez.
Much has been made of the two fighters’ differing styles. McGregor is a fighter, preferring to keep things off the mat and throwing punches. Alvarez is a brawler. Happy to throw punches but more at home getting up close and personal either on the mat or against the cage, a position McGregor is less keen on entertaining.
While fans debate the merits and deficiencies of each fighter, UFC president Dana White has had his say on the debate.
Speaking to MMA Mania, White make it perfectly clear who his pick for victory is.
“I think Eddie Alvarez is going to come out and fight the way he did in the Anthony Pettis fight.”
“I think he’s gonna try to get Conor up against the fence and take him down, or just push him against the fence and try to work on the fence. I don’t think he’s gonna come out in the middle of the Octagon and trade with Conor and start throwing punches.”
All this sounds like a measured and knowledgable assessment. However, it was White’s comments regarding McGregor’s punching power that gave the game away.
“You better fear his hands. He touches guys. He dropped Nate Diaz at a higher weight class. All the other guys he’s knocked out. He knocked out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. If he touches you, you’re in trouble, you get hurt.”
It seems that despite the credentials and aggressive style of Alvarez, it is clear that White rates McGregor’s striking power above anything the lightweight champion will bring tonight.
Tonight, the MMA world finds out just who and which style takes the gold.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
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