Where is the fight?
Saturday marks the UFC’s inaugural trip to the historical mecca of combat sports, Madison Square Garden, New York, USA.
When is the fight?
The main card gets underway at 3am, Sunday, November 13. There will be five fights before McGregor v Alvarez.
Where can I watch it?
BT Sport 2 will air the main preliminary fights and the main card. To watch the earlier preliminary fights fans will need access to UFC Fight Pass.
What are the match odds?
The Irishman is the favourite across the board. The best price for McGregor is 8/13 while for Eddie Alvarez the best price is 6/4. For the neutrals that believe Alvarez has the ability to take McGregor into deep water in the later rounds, going with Alvarez will be a temptation. Find the full list of odds here.
What do the experts say?
Speaking on the MMA hour podcast earlier this week, McGregor's coach, John Kavanagh predicted that McGregor will finish the bout in the second round. He expects much of the early action to take place against the cage, where Alvarez will exert a lot of energy pressing the action and look to control the Irishman, seeking out opportunities for a take-down. Kavanagh believes that when the early onslaught inevitably subsides McGregor will capitalise and end the fight mid-way through the second round.
Another pre-eminent coach had a differing opinion. Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig, the striking coach of former UFC bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw, was less optimistic about the Irishman’s chances. “If I were in McGregor’s corner, I would be cautious in that fight. But I’m going with Alvarez, 100 per cent jumping on that one.”
Alvarez team-mate and seasoned UFC veteran Frankie Edgar showed a level of indignation toward those that favoured the Irishman. “I think Eddie could go out there and sling it out with Conor, no doubt. He has great cage control, take-downs against the fence. Eddie has that dog in him though. He might go out there and trade with Conor, but the take-down is always there."
Former UFC heavyweight and now co-host of the Fighter and the Kid podcast Brendan Schaub has also warned of the threat posed by Alvarez but thinks it will be McGregor’s unmatched fight IQ that will get his hand raised on Saturday. “There’s not a guy at 155 that can starch you like Conor McGregor, has the reach of Conor McGregor, has the movement of Conor McGregor, like Conor McGregor.”
The MMA world is divided. Sound technical boxing and superb wrestling has seen Alvarez slice through some of the toughest lightweights to ever compete both in the UFC and Bellator. Pressure, octagon control and sustained pace has always been the crux of Alvarez playbook and this weekend will be no different.
His last fight was a four minute demolition TKO of Rafael dos Anjos. Few experts predicted the outcome, and now the MMA world is finally looking at Alvarez with a hesitance, considering the possibility that going with McGregor may be once again fall into the trap of underestimating one of the UFC’s most dogged fighters.
Alvarez will likely aim to make it a gruelling battle and control McGregor both against the fence, and look for take-down opportunities. If an opportunity to trade in the pocket with McGregor presents itself, he’ll take it. However, McGregor will have a five-inch reach advantage making it treacherous territory when Alvarez shoots for a takedown or looks to clinch. Navigating this no-man’s land is where Alvarez will be most vulnerable to the infamous, impeccably-timed counter left.
Alvarez might have initial success closing the distance if you’re to subscribe to Kavanagh’s narrative, but all it will take is one less than perfect attempt to clinch, one exhausted or sloppy lunge and it will all be over. For Alvarez, the key to victory will be to do everything possible to make it into this pocket where McGregor can’t land these shots and stay there for as long as possible. This approach won’t be sustainable.
The path to the pocket will be littered with the traps set by McGregor, and sooner or later, Alvarez will be snared.