UFC 205 tips: 4 best bets as McGregor and Alvarez do battle in the Big Apple
The featherweight champion's reach should prove decisive in one of Saturday's three title bouts in New York...
Conor McGregor v Eddie Alvarez
At UFC 196 in March, Conor McGregor’s lack of conditioning was exposed in emphatic fashion by Nate Diaz.
That weakness was again apparent in the rematch, but, crucially, the Irishman managed to conserve energy, pick his spots, and do enough to win a unanimous decision.
McGregor has learned how to cope with exhaustion in the Octagon and, while he struggled at welterweight, he should be in better condition at this lower weight limit of 155lbs.
Eddie Alvarez, like Diaz, will likely focus on pressuring McGregor, and his chances hinge on his ability to take the featherweight champion down to the mat.
But the American’s size is a major disadvantage, and McGregor’s long reach will allow him to keep his opponent at arm’s length.
McGregor won five of his first six UFC fights by knockout, and his tremendous punching power should translate to this division.
He has beaten durable opponents before, and if he catches Alvarez with his trademark left hand it should be enough to end this fight.
McGregor to win by KO, TKO or DQ –
Tyron Woodley v Stephen Thompson
The night’s second title fight features two fighters on impressive winning streaks.
Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley has won three successive fights, while Stephen Thompson is undefeated in seven.
The 33-year-old is a hugely accomplished stand-up fighter, undefeated in his amateur and kickboxing careers and with just one defeat in the UFC.
He is much craftier than the champion, and has improved as a wrestler during his winning run.
Woodley’s knockout power is obvious – five of his six UFC wins have come within the distance.
But Thompson’s karate style has proven difficult for his opponents to solve, and he should be able to regularly counter Woodley’s often erratic attacks.
Thompson to win –
Joanna Jedrzejczyk v Karolina Kowalkiewicz
This women’s strawweight title fight is in fact a rematch of a 2012 amateur contest between Poland’s top female fighters.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk beat Karolina Kowalkiewicz in their first meeting by submission, and a similar result looks likely on Saturday night.
The champion is perhaps the UFC’s best pound-for-pound striker, using a muay-thai style with a dazzling array of punches, elbows and knees to build an undefeated record of 12 fights.
Kowalkiewicz is also yet to lose in her 10 professional bouts, but she will not be able to wear Jedrzejczyk down in the way she has her previous opponents.
The champion’s conditioning is unmatched.
She proved as much in her last win over Claudia Gadelha when, having lost the first two rounds, Jedrzejczyk recovered to dominate the final 15 minutes and take a unanimous victory.
She will out-work and out-strike Kowalkiewicz in similar style, and should successfully defend her title for the fourth time.
Jedrzejczyk to win on points –
Chris Weidman v Yoel Romero
A shot at middleweight champion Michael Bisping could be forthcoming for the winner of this bout.
Former champion Chris Weidman lost his title last December with a knockout defeat to Luke Rockhold, while Yoel Romero last fought on the same night and picked up his seventh consecutive win.
The Cuban is the more powerful puncher of the pair, having finished all but two of his 12 wins by stoppage, and his style will likely trouble Weidman.
The American often takes his fights to the ground, but Romero, a former Olympic wrestler, will be difficult to take down.
Should they remain on their feet for the majority of the fight, Romero’s striking advantage will ultimately prove telling and earn him his eighth consecutive win.
Romero to win by KO, TKO or DQ –