We are just days away to the biggest fight in UFC history, writes Ciaran O'Flynn for the Irish Examiner.
Conor McGregor takes on UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez next Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City at UFC 205.
A victory for McGregor, the current UFC featherweight champion, will see him become the first ever two-weight world champion in the organization, cementing his name in the UFC history books.
Standing in McGregor’s way is a true pioneer of the sport in Eddie Alvarez who is adamant he will put an end to the illusion of greatness that surrounds McGregor.
The event itself is a landmark for the sport of MMA as it was only legalised in New York earlier this year.
It will be the biggest UFC event of all time and one of the biggest events Madison Square Garden has hosted. UFC 205 has already broken the gate record for Madison Square Garden previously held by the fight between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield back in 1999. With the figure yet to be released it is expected to exceed $13.5 million.
The fight itself is between two of the best fighters in the world today. Eddie Alvarez has been in the sport a long time and will bring a wealth of experience. With his experience, I don’t believe McGregor’s mindgames will have any major affect on Alvarez.
Stylistically he is a high-paced, high-volume fighter with exceptional wrestling and very good boxing.
He also has phenomenal cardio and the longer this fight goes on the more Alvarez will have the advantage. Alvarez has also brought a fighter called Jonas Bilharinho into his team to mimic McGregor’s unorthodox style and his camp believe the addition of Bilharinho has elevated their camp to another level.
McGregor on the other hand will bring a level of striking Alvarez has never faced before.
McGregor’s accuracy in his punches, along with his speed and power, means all he needs is one of those punches to land and it's all over.
The first two rounds are where McGregor will be at his best and his most dangerous, so for Alvarez its about surviving the first two rounds.
I expect McGregor to utilize a lot of his kicking abilities to keep Alvarez at bay like he did in his fight with Chad Mendes. McGregor’s body kicks are one of his best weapons but can be draining on his energy levels.
He has spent most this camp working on his wrestling so definitely expect to see some wrestling exchanges.
With both fighters not leaving any stone unturned in their preparation for next Saturday it could potentially be one of the best title fights the organization has seen.
For Alvarez, a chance to show he is the best lightweight fighter in the world. For McGregor, a chance of making history by becoming the organization’s first two-weight world champion.
Madison Square Garden has hosted some of the biggest events in combat sports from Muhammed Ali v Joe Frazier in 1971 and again in 1974, to Evander Holyfield v Lennox Lewis in 1999.
McGregor v Alvarez 2016 could very well join that list.