Already one of the most successful fighters in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, featherweight champion Conor McGregor will step into The Octagon to headline UFC 205 against Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden in New York City tonight.
Carrying a 20-3 record into his lightweight championship match into the bout with Alvarez, McGregor will fight at his third different weight class in the last 11 months, and believes a win will cement his legacy by becoming the first simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history.
“This just puts it even more in stone,” McGregor said. “That second belt? Never been done. No one’s even come close. No one’s even attempted it, so that’s it. My legacy? I’ll be immortalized after this one.”
In his last fight against Nate Diaz at UFC 202 back in August, McGregor was awarded a unanimous decision victory.
McGregor landed 36 of his 63 strikes in the first round, and all of his shots were significant. Conversely, Diaz landed 23 of his 72 attempts. In addition to several left-handed punches to Diaz, McGregor landed multiple kicks to his opponent’s right leg, almost all of which were unchecked and hit flush against the shin and calf.
McGregor controlled the bulk of the second round with punches to Diaz’s face, and twice more forced his opponent to stand up after being knocked down. Despite landing 40 of his 75 strikes, 39 of which were significant, McGregor absorbed 50 strikes from Diaz, the bulk of which were thrown in the final 45 seconds of the round.
Showing fatigue and walking away from several exchanges, McGregor landed only 32 strikes in the third round. However, he did stuff Diaz’s only takedown attempt of the round and held a stand-up position with Diaz despite several attempts at a judo throw.
Diaz controlled the tempo in the fifth and final round and landed 65 throws to just 36 for McGregor. Also, in the last 15 seconds of the fifth round, Diaz earned a takedown of McGregor and followed up with several punches.
However, McGregor is convinced the Alvarez fight will finish well short of the distance.
“I predict I rearrange his face,” McGregor said. “He’s too easily hit. Through all of the talk and through all everything else, he can be hit too easily. It’s happened to him his whole career. We’re talking about somebody with the precision that I have. I’m going to hit him. He’s going to fall. Maybe, if his toughness holds up, he’ll survive, but then, his face will begin to be rearranged, so that’s what I predict.
“I think one round. If he can hold out and he can drag it into the trenches, I’ll take my hat off to him, but he’ll never be the same after if that is the case.”