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The rise of the UFC is truly remarkable. In the organisation’s early days it revelled in its bad reputation as a blood sport. Mixed martial arts was banned in multiple states and TV channels wouldn’t broadcast the action. Fast forward to 2016 and the UFC is a global phenomenon which was sold for $4 billion in May.
That sale went through shortly after UFC 200 which was supposed to be a real celebration of how far the company and the sport of MMA had come. It didn’t exactly go to plan.
For months, the main event of UFC 200 was billed as rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. However, McGregor refused to attend a press conference for the event and was pulled from the bill. It looked for a while as though McGregor, the biggest star in UFC, was going to retire. Eventually McGregor returned and beat Diaz in UFC 202 and his star power is being utilised in this weekend’s UFC 205 when he takes on Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight Championship in Madison Square Garden, New York.
UFC 205 is set to be the showpiece event that UFC 200 was supposed to be. There are three world championship fights on the bill but there’s no doubt that McGregor v Alvarez is the standout fight.
Conor McGregor 4/6 (Betfair)
Eddie Alvarez 6/4 (Ladbrokes)
McGregor’s own rise up the ranks of the UFC is as impressive as the growth of the UFC in general. He’s come from being a broke, unknown fighter from Ireland to one of the highest grossing and biggest named men in the world of sport. McGregor’s won fans for his brash manner and pithy putdowns to rivals but he’s consistently backed up his hubris with his performances in the octagon.
The problem that McGregor’s got is that he is not content to simply dominate a single weight division, he wants the biggest fights and the richest purses in the UFC. Initially, McGregor came up the ranks in the Featherweight division where he is the current UFC World Champion.
At 5’9″ McGregor has been finding increasingly difficult to make the weight cut of 145 lb for Featherweight. He’s fought twice at Welterweight (170 lb) but that’s where he first tasted defeat in the UFC and there are question marks about his power. He should be much more at home at Lightweight (155 lb).
If McGregor manages to beat Eddie Alvarez he’ll become the first man to hold the UFC belt at two separate weight classes concurrently. The bookies feel that is well within his abilities, pricing him up at odds on across the board.
McGregor is a fair favourite at 4/6 with Betfair but it’s not going to be easy against Alvarez. The American won the Lightweight belt in just his fourth fight in the UFC. That’s a remarkably quick rise to the top but it does mean he comes to Madison Square Garden without any experience of this sort of super fight. The occasion could well prove to be too much for Alvarez.
McGregor Round 1 @ 11/4 (Sky Bet)
McGregor Round 2 @ 6/1 (Paddy Power)
Alvarez on Points @ 11/2 (Sky Bet)
McGregor on Points @ 15/2 (Sky Bet)
Alvarez Round 1 @ 9/1 (Paddy Power)
Alvarez Round 2 @ 11/1 (Ladbrokes)
Both McGregor and Alvarez are known for their striking. McGregor famously used his boxing background to devastating effect when beating Jose Aldo in 13 seconds to win the Featherweight Championship. Alvarez has also had previous success thanks to his strong boxing and varied kicking but he’s been more tactical since joining UFC, making the most of the cage to takedown his opponents.
McGregor fans will worry if their man is taken down too often. There is no doubting his ability to score knockouts with his power and accuracy but there are massive questions about his ground game. The Irishman has impressed of late with his defence around the cage but he is still vulnerable in the middle of the ring.
The other main cause for concern for McGregor’s fans is his stamina. He lost his legs in the later stages of both fights against Nate Diaz and will therefore be aiming for as early a win as possible. He’ll use his range of kicks to keep Alvarez at bay and will taunt his opponent to come forwards in the hopes of hitting hard with a counterpunch.
Alvarez does have a strong chin and should be able to weather much of the early storm. It’s then going to be a case of finishing strongly. However, McGregor’s camp has been based around improving his cardio and being smarter with his energy expenditure. So, the best bet in the Round Betting Market is McGregor on points at 15/2 with Sky Bet.
Conor McGregor to win at 4/6 with Betfair
Conor McGregor on points at 15/2 with Sky Bet