We are well used to the prophetic musings of ‘Mystic Mac’ at this stage but Conor McGregor isn’t the only member of the SBG team that likes to fire out predictions in the lead-up to his fights.
Speaking on this week’s edition of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani ahead of McGregor’s bout with Eddie Alvarez, SBG Ireland head coach John Kavanagh offered his own – noticeably more measured – prediction for how the fight will go down.
A lot of people have pointed to Eddie’s win over Anthony Pettis as a reference point for how he will deal with the offensive capabilities of ‘The Notorious’ but Kavanagh isn’t too sure that the similarities between McGregor and Pettis are as real as people think. When asked if he thought Alvarez would employ a similar tactic, this is what he had to say.
“That would seem to be the smart money. The Pettis fight was a nice one for us to study, you know, he’s kind of a slick southpaw. The glaring difference would be that Pettis wouldn’t be known for fighting with his hands on the inside. Beautiful kicks. Eddie just smothered that.”
Eddie has been known to stand and trade, though, something a lot of people seem to forget due to the more cautious nature of his run in the UFC. He epitomises the underdog and Kavanagh went on to state his belief that, though he may come into the octagon with the intention to brawl, the power of Conor McGregor may serve to make him think twice about such an approach.
“That’s not to say that Eddie doesn’t enjoy a brawl,” he said. “He seems to. Anything I’ve heard from him, he seems to be very up for that. They’ve been studying Conor’s style of boxing. I’m looking at them doing a lot of pads and maybe they feel they do see a glaring hole there. Eddie does feel like he can expose him. I mean he’s coming off of a knockout victory of a tough guy [Rafael dos Anjos], so maybe they see that as their route to victory.”
Eddie Alvarez trains with the likes of Edson Barboza, WSOF bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar, and he has established himself as a champion in virtually every single organisation he has fought in. Adversity is no problem for the Philly-native, but Kavanagh believes that while Eddie will come on strong with a clear head, it won’t take long for the power of McGregor to break him.
“It just happens so often that they do get in there and the talk goes out the window,” said Kavanagh. “They get cracked with a couple of clean jabs and then it becomes the ‘head down’ and back to what you know and what you’re good at. With Eddie, it’s that sort of mauling, grappling style he did against Pettis.”
As for his actual prediction, Kavanagh didn’t agree with his fighter’s call of a 1st round KO, but instead offered a more measured response, one characteristic of his more methodical views on the sport.
“I’ll go with 2nd round,” said the trainer. “I’m going to be conservative. I do think round 1 will be quite a lot on the fence. But, it’s an exhausting style, especially the way Conor can defend himself on the fence, he doesn’t rely on muscle he relies on posture, which is not tiring. It just takes one break.”
“Round 2 they start. The shot won’t be quite as fast. The muscles won’t be quite as energetic and he’s a slippery customer to try and hold for that length of time. So I think around about the 8-minute mark. That’s when it’ll happen.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena