UFC 205 is coming up, and a lot of people are talking about the super-fight between Eddie Alvarez and Conor McGregor. Firas Zahabi, who is considered as one of the best coaches in the sport, has released an in-depth breakdown with his thoughts and technical analysis on the fight.
The first thing the Tristar Gym coach mentioned, was that the short time between fights may not be beneficial for McGregor.
“I personally think it’s too quick of a turnaround,” Zahabi said. “Because his last fight against Nate, he showed he has a lot to fix, still.”
“In round 2 he completely faded. The same kind of thing happened in the second fight,” he said. “He found a second wind and came back, so there’s improvement. But his cardio still isn’t bullet proof. His composure still isn’t bullet proof. His ability to fight 5 rounds, for me I still think needs a lot of work and needs to be addressed. And I don’t think he has the time to address this in his fight.”
“He’s not going to have 6-7 months between the first and second Nate Diaz fights,” he said. “He won’t have time. Expect his abilities to be pretty much the same, his cardiovascular abilities.”
Zahabi cites that McGregor’s strategy of pacing himself early, and landing heavy leg kicks worked against Diaz, as it got him the ability to rest and recover on the later rounds. Each time he threw kicks, Diaz would back off a bit and that helped set a favorable pace.
Problem is, Firas doesn’t think that strategy would work on this bout. Not only does Alvarez’s stance not leave him as vulnerable to those kicks, he also possesses a legitimate takedown threat.
“I think he would be wise to try and knockout Eddie in the first round. Don’t try to pace yourself with Eddie,” Firas said when asked what advice he’d give Conor.
“I don’t think he is going to be able to slow down the pace against an Eddie Alvarez. It’s going to be a hard, punishing fight in rounds 3, 4, and 5. If they go to rounds 3, 4 and 5, the pace will be high and it’s will be Eddie pushing the pace.”
“McGregor needs to win this in round one and early in round two. I don’t really see Conor winning a decision. It would surprise me, it’s not impossible of course.”
“I think if he does win this fight, it’s how he always wins his big fights. Early,” he said. “He needs to get back to that, and forget about pacing. Do or die, rounds 1 or 2.”
“It’s all happening for McGregor in Round 1 and 2. That’s where his talent is. That’s what brought him to the top. That’s what made him famous,” he said. “Rounds 1 or 2, that’s when he’s super dangerous, later rounds, it’s going to be an Eddie Alvarez fight. So I think he needs to avoid pacing himself.”
Zahabi says that while he possesses technical boxing, Alvarez’s penchant of brawling after taking punches, could lead him to trouble against a talented striker such as McGregor. He says if he was coaching Eddie, he would tell him to just “wrestle, wrestle, wrestle.”
“I don’t believe he’s going to be able to stop all of Eddie’s takedowns. Only way he can stop all of Eddie’s takedowns, is if he knocks him out early,” he said. “Other than that, I see Eddie getting a takedown. In the UFC, He has taken down Pettis repeatedly. He took down Gilbert Melendez several times. He took down partially, Dos Anjos.”
“I think Eddie Alvarez’s wrestling is on another level than Conor McGregor’s. Another level than Nate Diaz’s wrestling, and Diaz took him down even the second time. Conor showed some improvement in his takedown defense, however, he’s not one of those guys who is impossible to takedown.”
“Eddie has taken down way more seasoned wrestlers. If he doesn’t get knocked out, I expect him to get several takedowns, especially in the later rounds.”
“If it’s a fence war, Alvarez will come up on top.”
In the end, while most books have him as a slight underdog, Zahabi predicted an Alvarez win.
“Eddie Alvarez isn’t crazy. He’s been in too many dangerous fights to play with fire. I think he’s going to take McGregor down early. Even if he doesn’t, he’s going to grind him out against the cage and is going to win the fight. That’s my opinion.”
“I’m picking Alvarez. I think he gets past round 1 and 2.”
Watch the complete video below, which has over 50 minutes of insightful, technical breakdowns.
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