The most anticipated and stacked UFC event comes live, for the first time, from the Big Apple this weekend. The original epicentre of combat sports, Madison Square Garden plays host to a contender for the most stacked card in UFC history, and is a contender to break the UFC pay-per-view record.

 

The card is stacked from top to bottom, but it is the headline fight between Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez and Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor that is the star attraction. The Notorious McGregor is the draw and the man bringing in the numbers. Since his debut in the UFC the outspoken Irish star has been stating his claim verbally that he would be a two weight world champion, and has since backed up his words almost every fight. The loss to Nate Diaz allowed McGregor to regroup and win a fight where almost all attributes were against him and return himself to the top of the UFC tree.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxwE4fPLU3c

The tough and durable Alvarez is a veteran of the sport. A pro since 2003, Alvarez made a name for himself by fighting a who’s who of contenders and champions outside of the UFC. Upon arrival to the top promotion Alvarez dropped a decision to Donald Cerrone before going on to beat both Gilbert Melendez, former Strikeforce Champion, and Anthony Pettis, former UFC Champion. These wins gave Alvarez a shot at Rafael Dos Anjos, whom Alvarez blasted out inside a round to win the promotional belt and cement himself to the top of the world at lightweight. Alvarez vs McGregor was a fight that both fighters would have liked. Alvarez chasing the outspoken and brash man who will bring in the high pay cheque, and McGregor chasing history by becoming a two division champion simultaneously.

The game of Alvarez is a very high pressure offence. While his wrestling is not the best in the world, Alvarez shoots for the double leg and ends up in the clinch by the fence, by far his most dominant position. The energy consuming style of Alvarez is backed up by his excellent hands when on the back foot. Alvarez has the game to grind and breakdown almost every opponent he faces and it is hard to see how he will not deploy a wrestling heavy gameplan against McGregor. This is surely backed up by Alvarez claiming he will win by choking out McGregor after taking him down just like Diaz.

McGregor has proven his ability to adapt and win in different circumstances. The Irishman’s bread and butter is as a counter punching back foot boxer, and his most devastating wins are seen this way – Ivan Buchinger, Marcus Brimage and Jose Aldo. During his time in the UFC McGregor has been mainly a pressure fighter with a high kicking offence and the devastating left cross, which enabled him to beat Dustin Poirier and Chad Mendes. After the inability to beat Nate Diaz at welterweight with this aggressive style, McGregor deployed a five round gameplan to beat Diaz in the high stake rematch to solidify his ever growing capabilities. I see this match up going one way. McGregor’s pressure and power will be enough to hit Alvarez too much. His cage cutting ability will be the key to enabling him to bloody up Alvarez and force the stoppage, and in turn create history on the largest stage yet.

The Co-Main Event features Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley and the challenger Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.  

Woodley earned his belt after a devastating KO victory over Robbie Lawler. Having bided his time and waiting for his shot at the belt, Woodley proved he was deserving of becoming the champion. Across from him is the number one contender in Wonderboy. After a career best performance against Johny Hendricks, and a dominant unanimous decision over Rory MacDonald, Thompson earned his shot for Woodley’s first defence. Since losing to Matt Brown, Wonderboy has relocated to train with head coach Ray Longo. He has found a way to keep his fights on the fight and utilise his blitzing style and full array of world championship level kickboxing.

Woodley has huge power with a strong wrestling game, coupled with the ability to KO anyone once he can plant his feet going backwards. This makes him a dangerous opponent for Thompson, or anyone for that matter. This fight however, Wonderboy will use his range which is the best in the world and will keep the fight outside of striking range. From the outside Wonderboy will shoot in and strike before retreating to safety. His kicking arsenal is the best in the UFC and it will enable him to hurt Woodley to the legs and the body and in turn open up the head before the big finish, creating a new welterweight champion.

Elsewhere, Polish fans will be tuned in to watch the ever dominating Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, as she defends against a fellow country woman, Karolina Kowalkiewicz. I expect Joanna to rise again and further develop herself as a superstar. The fight on the undercard I look forward to the most is Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Michael Johnson. Two genuine top contenders at lightweight will look to stake their claim for a soon shot at the winner of the night's main event.

Kieran's Predictions :

Eddie Alvarez (c) vs Conor McGregor – McGregor creates history

Tyron Woodley (c) vs Stephen Thompson – Wonderboy

Joanna Jedrzejczyk (c) vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz – Joanna retains her belt

Chris Weidman vs Yoel Romero – 50/50 fight, gun to my head I choose Romero

Miesha Tate vs Raquel Pennington – Tate

Frankie Edgar vs Jeremy Stephens – Edgar

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Michael Johnson – Khabib

Vicente Luque vs Belal Muhammad – Muhammad

Jim Miller vs Thiago Alves – Alves should have too much strength and size for Miller at 155lbs.

Rafael Natal vs Tim Boetsch – Boetsch

Liz Carmouche vs Katlyn Chookagian – Chook

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